This week marks the first anniversary of Justin Trudeau's ascension. Lawrence Martin writes that the Harperites are filling the air with polls. They have tried to make hay in the aftermath of Jim Flaherty's death, pushing the meme that he -- and they -- have been superb economic managers. However,
Mr. Trudeau’s accomplishment has been to bring back the Liberal support base. That base is traditionally larger than the Conservative one. This has been evident in polls that have shown the Grits around 35 per cent and the Tories at around 30. That picture has held not only for the past year, but dating all the way back to September of 2012, when Mr. Trudeau announced his intention to seek the leadership. With his name on the ticket, hypothetical polls immediately showed the big change.
Tories hope that the corner is now being turned, that they’ll draw even with the Grits or close to it. If there is little or no movement, they might as well go back to the drawing board. It will be a clearer signal than ever that the economy cannot save them. It will be a signal that after many years in power, fatigue has set in and the public wants change, pure and simple.
This was the case in the latter years of the St. Laurent Liberals, the Pierre Trudeau Liberals, the Brian Mulroney Tories and others. If it wasn’t the policies that turned people off, it was the governing culture.
It seems increasingly clear that Mr. Harper and his acolytes have overstayed their welcome. Despite their economic hype, it's their style and their shift to the past which leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Canadians:
The culture of the Harper operation grates. A country is supposed to be governed by consent, not by coercion. With this man, there has been too much of the latter.
There’s that and there is the progressives’ argument that this is a country moving backward in time. Backward on criminal justice policies, backward on the environment, backward on labour rights, on democracy and backward, with the unremitting focus on resource exploitation, on economic vision.
By the end of the month Stephen Harper should have a good idea of how he's doing -- and whether or not it's time to head for the exit.