Quite the weekend: Mr. Mulcair, at a national policy meeting of the NDP, gets a 92 percent approval rating while the Liberals give the leadership of their national party to Justin Trudeau by what it would be an understatement to call a landslide victory.
While the Liberals’ second-place finisher in the leadership race espoused a “unite the progressive parties” stand, her runner-up position was so far behind Mr. Trudeau’s support that it’s clear that the mainstream Liberals currently have no stomach for making common cause with the NDP, especially since they once again have a Trudeau at the helm.
We have predicted in this space a couple of times that Mr. Harper should be good for one more majority government following the 2015 election while the 2019 tilt should be up for grabs not least of all because by then the Tories will have been in office long enough for the country to want a change.
Having awarded Mr. Harper another mandate in 2015, we should also hasten to say that his government could just as easily stumble and fall between now and then in spite of the great lengths the Prime Minister’s Office goes to to avoid embarrassing missteps by backbenchers through the vigorous authority of the party whip who is not at all shy about telling MPs pecisely what they can and cannot do.
This is no doubt in large measure because Mr. Harper does not enjoy an enormous amount of bench strength, in spite of his large caucus.
Indeed, the ministers closest to him, who are clearly very loyal, are almost all from Ontario where they honed their talents as part of Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris’ cabinet between 1995 and 2002.
While Mr. Harper keeps his caucus, by and large, in check, he has had this past winter some embarrassing moments with several Conservative senators (joined by at least one Liberal) who have made financial claims for which at least a few of them are not entitled.
The next couple of years will be particularly interesting as the Conservatives will, predictably, try to advertise Justin Trudeau into political oblivion with attack ads (they began before he won his party’s leadership, in fact) while the New Democratic Party will be doing everything possible to maintain all of those Quebec seats that propelled them to Official Opposition status while simultaneously denying the Conservatives much more than a foothold in this keystone province.
We’re unlikely to see the young Mr. Trudeau elevated to the near-cult status that his late father engendered in the heady days of Trudeaumania nearly 45 years ago (many of us thought at that time that this ostensibly new word “charisma” had been coined purely in PET’s honour) but nevertheless it will be more than a little bit interesting to see how Justin Trudeau grows into the job for which, other than being born into 44 Sussex Drive, he really has not a lot of practical experience. Some, yes, but not a lot.
One thing is for certain: the young Mr. Trudeau will be doing everything possible to show Canadians that he is just as capable of managing his caucus and eventually serving as prime minister as Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair.
And these two gentleman will not lose a step in trying to trip him up, likely especially Mr. Mulcair for if the New Democrats can succeed in eating the Liberals’ lunch, especially when the lunchmaker is a Trudeau, they’ll be seeing the way clear to absorbing the Liberal brand and giving Canada a two-party system in which they’ll eventually be guaranteed to form the government.
The next two years in particular will make for fascinating political drama as Mr. Trudeau gets his leadership legs under him while the other national parties do their best to false-foot him (and one another).