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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Polls Tell Us Why Harper Will Not Be Going to the Polls - at Least Not Now.

The continuing volatility amongst Canadian's and our feelings about our federal government is showing up in the to-and-fro opinion polls results for the past many months. Flux and frustration are the political realities in the country today and Harper knows it. Do not hold your breath for an early election under the circumstances.

Harper is dancing as fast as he can, trying to catch up to the new rhymes and rhythms of the Canadian consciousness. He has made moves to change his framing from GST tax cutter and baby-bonus boy into the "thoroughly-modern vert-nouveau man." In the process has has been- seriously testing his credulity with Canadians. We just do not believe him nor do we seem to believe in him.

He breaks promises. He chases butterflies like Quebec "nation" without understanding the concepts and consequences. He panders and poses and under performs even on his tepid Five Priority Policy Agenda. Then he compounds the problem with cheap shots about parliamentarians loyalty and the Taliban, and makes unwarranted and unfounded personal slurs around the Air India tragedy, just to name a few.

Every time he sees the light and does something right and not just mean he get a 5 point bounce in the polls, for a day or two, moving from 35% to 40%. The mainstream media immediately goes into a rhetorical overdrive printing headlines about the Cons flirting with majority government territory and salivating over election fever. Then they retreat as the cold light of day emerges in follow up polls and we find that Harper has fallen back to earth, yet again.

The latest iteration of Harper’s up again and down again toilet-seat political fortunes happened over the March 19th Budget. The bounce to 40% territory happened in the first 2 days after the Budget. By the end of the week he was down to 35% again as people reflected on the Budget's political implications and realized Harper' s personal intentions.

Now we have to wait and see what the fallout is going to be for Harper out of the Quebec election. We all can see the consequences of his Budget bungling and interference in the Quebec election. He bet billions of our tax dollars on the Charest horse who turned up lame, in more ways than one.

The fiscal pain inflicted on the rest of us Canadians increased our frustration when Charest decided to use the Harper largesse for enhanced equalization money purely for personal tax cuts to Quebecers. We all understood the extra funs were intended to address the mythical fiscal imbalance for Quebec. The rest of Canada got no tax relief from the federal Budget and we are not amused. Especially Saskatchewan and Newfoundland who are legitimately angry with Harper. He screwed them royally in the process of paying off Quebec to purchase a personal power base.

Harper has essentially shown no progress in earning the trust and confidence of Canadians in the 14th months he has had control of the government. Do not be fooled, even with a minority government Harper has had de facto control. The Liberals spent most of 2006 finding a new leader and all of 2007 figuring out where they want to go with him so they have not been a force.

The major reason is after 5 years in federal leadership politics 65% of Canadians say they do not yet “know Prime Minister Harper any better as a person.” Those numbers are the same for all of Canada – expect for Quebec where a mere 59% say they don’t know him. This is not the stuff of long term viable political leadership.

I remember the headlines "Joe Who" immediately after Clark was chosen Progressive Conservative Party leader. Five year after Harper was chosen Reform/Alliance/Conservative party leader and over a year since he was chosen Prime Minister, we are still asking ourselves "Who is Stephen Harper?"

That is the real problem Harper has going int the next election, whenever it happens...we simply do not know who he really is after all these years.