Harper’s quest for power

As we enter the second half of the campaign, Harper is ramping up his calls for a majority. With polls at least keeping the prospect alive, we can expect to have a national conversation at some point, reviewing what exactly that could mean.

Jeffrey Simpson made the point, it’s been awhile since we’ve had a majority, Canadians may have forgotten that a Prime Minister in this situation yields more power than a President of the United States, almost dictatorial in scope. Harper wants to talk about a majority, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest a focused debate could backfire. Some are even positing, that talk of a Harper majority is now the Liberals best chance to try and rally support behind a "stop Harper" movement. Not the silly fear tactics of the past- hidden agenda stuff that has never worked- but a more rational reading of Harper with unchecked power. 

When you drill down past the fawning Harper receives on a daily basis, you find ceilings, you find real hesitations about Harper, the Conservatives. Despite a country headed in the right direction, sentiment doesn’t replicate for Harper. Despite certain recognition of competence, steady hand, there is also real apprehension, Canadians forever luke warm about this Prime Minister. A divided opposition vote tends to gloss over Conservative problems, around 2/3rds of us don’t particularly care for the PM. Factor in poor past turnout, and it’s fair to say there is little enthusiasm around, apart from the marginal faithful. 22% of Canadians voted for the Conservatives in 2008, never forget the latent reservations that exist, and they haven’t changed, if the polls are any indication. No matter, our democracy is such that Harper doesn’t require widespread appeal, only a mention in terms of how this discussion may go around Easter dinners, across the country.

My point- let’s not forgot that the call to majority is a double edged sword, a real conversation not necessarily a net plus for the Conservatives. We have to see how this campaign proceeds, but if a Conservative majority looks a distinct possibility, will those hesitations crystallize, can someone else take advantage and we see a late push elsewhere. I’m not predicting, but if we hear more talk like Simpson, this idea of a person with more power than Obama, it could well take soft, undecided voters aback. The word is TENTATIVE, I submit Canadians are still tentative about Stephen Harper. If the question becomes, does this man deserve unchecked power? Do you want a democratic check to keep an eye on him, given past behaviour is more power a good idea? I’m not sure the answer to these questions is positive for the Conservatives. While I understand the Harper logic in calling for a majority, if the prospect looks real and distinct in the second half of this campaign, fair to wonder how that changes the landscape, as well as motivate latent opposition.

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val.

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