The Harper majority, one year on


This week marks one year since Prime Minister Stephen Harper led his Conservative Party to a majority government.

Here’s a round-up of various analyses on what the government has done over the past year, and where it stands in the minds of Canadians:

The Globe and Mail thinks the majority has lost Harper more support than his two previous minority governments did:

A year after the federal election, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are almost neck-and-neck in national voting intentions. But while the gain for the main opposition party is well within the norm, the Prime Minister has lost more support than he did one year after his election victories in 2006 and 2008.

Also from the Globe, John Ibbitson calls the prime minister “a principled economic and social conservative who is reshaping the nation,” and wonders:

Is this Prime Minister determined to dismantle the progressive state, built up over decades by previous governments? Or is his truly a moderate, centrist regime that has abandoned its radical roots and betrayed its conservative base?

Writing for the Montreal Gazette, Marian Scott sees a nation “more polarized than ever,” and quotes a pollster’s take on the matter:

Canadians used to view themselves as centrists who didn’t identify strongly with either the right or left side of the political spectrum, says Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates. That has changed in the past decade, coinciding with the rise of the Harper Conservatives, first elected in 2006, he said.

Postmedia News‘ Michael Den Tandt pokes fun at those who believe the Harper government maintains a hidden agenda:

Indeed, apart from a few highly symbolic flashpoints — gun control and marijuana come to mind — the hidden agenda is gone, absorbed in a mush of accommodative compromise, to the point where government spinners have resorted to patiently walking journalists through all the ways in which, they claim, the Conservatives are transforming the country. Most Canadians have responded to this putative revolution with a blink and a yawn.

Perhaps the most scathing of reviews of the Harper-led government comes from Lawrence Martin, in the form of this long piece for iPolitics, where Martin wonders, “Is this still a democracy?”:
Not to be facetious, but isn’t it time to find a new name for our system of government? Aren’t we being rather generous in still calling the operation in Ottawa a democracy? Isn’t it a bit like calling the Maple Leafs a hockey team or Vladimir Putin Aristotelian?







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The Harper majority, one year on

  1. Harper’s Tories trailed Martin till Christmas 2005, polled behind Stephane Dion’s Liberals in the summer of 2008, and only polled about 3 points ahead of the Ignatieff Liberals as late as Fall 2010.

    The Conservatives (and the Alliance, the Reform Party, and the Harris Tories) exhibited a tendency to perform markedly worse in polls at times when voter attention was low (eg. when elections are far away).* I suspect it is because they appeal to a segment of the population (low information voters) that doesn’t pay attention until an election is called or there is a national crisis.

    *Note: I do NOT mean that the Tories always outperform their pre-election polls. I mean that they gain support when an election is called (or looks like it will be called). They may gain or lose support from there – for instance, they blew it at the last moment in 2004.

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