Wednesday, December 16, 2009

There's a formula in here

Finding myself in agreement with Chantal Hebert today: "Stephen Harper Tories proving to be own worst enemies." She pretty accurately captures the shift in the Ottawa dynamic that's occurred recently, suggesting that Harper and his government have lost their fall edge because they've become isolated on two major issues, Afghanistan and climate change. There's no political cover for them on these two major files, in terms of linkages with any opposition party or in the form of strong public support for the government's positions. Environmentally it's clear the government is on its own and on Afghanistan, in terms of the torture allegations in particular, the public is doubtful of the government's Colvin-bashing. Both issues are dominant at the moment. For e.g.,
In Copenhagen this week, Canada is incurring one of its worst international beatings ever. The federal-provincial divisions that the government declined to address at home are also on full display, raising questions as to Harper's management of the federation.
Afghanistan, the environment...they're not able to fully control how those issues play out and when they have to react, it's in the classic Harper mould, stifling, muzzling, lashing out. It's not a good look.

When the recession/economic issues are at the fore, the Conservative numbers have tended to be better since it's pretty tough to mess up handing out billions of dollars...except that they've done it in a blatantly partisan manner and their record to date in terms of job creation, a major goal of the stimulus, has been abysmal as a result of the slow flow of the stimulus funding. Those latter points may come back to haunt them in a big way down the road, they've promised 190,000 jobs by the end of 2010, for example.
The latest Liberal thinking on election timing involves allowing more time for Conservative chickens to come home to roost. Making a virtue of the necessity of patience may yet pay off for the opposition.
She's on to something in this analysis, a formula of sorts. Isolating the Conservatives on their weakest issues, attaining enough publicity along the way to make a negative perception stick and hanging in there until an electoral change becomes possible.