Sparrow’s fall might be just an episode, unless it turns out to be a symptom of a deeper flaw in the Conservative campaign. Harper seems to want to run a classic front-runner’s race: reassuring, quietly confident, besweatered. Stay the Course. The Land is Strong. Yet his own weird linking of climate change policy and national unity, and Sparrow’s ugly mistake, and even the silly Puffin thing—all suggest a party more naturally inclined toward the scrappy, noisy, risky, at times reckless, style of come-from-behind outsiders. Maybe that’s still how they see themselves. But they can’t have it both ways. Right now, their style undermines their intended message.

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