Harper passes Diefenbaker next week.
Rising rapidly among his fellow members of Canada’s ultimate political pantheon, Stephen Harper is just days away from surpassing another of his 21 predecessors — this time John Diefenbaker — to become the ninth longest-serving prime minister in the country’s history. …
Diefenbaker — who was the Progressive Conservative prime minister when Harper was born on April 30, 1959 — served five years, 10 months and one day in office. But with the lengths of months varying as they do, Diefenbaker (elected in June 1957 and succeeded by Pearson in April 1963) also notched 2,132 days at the helm of the federal government.
Either way, by the end of next week, Harper will have outlasted “Dief” as holder of the highest office in the land.
After that, though, Harper will not move further up in the rankings of longest-serving prime ministers until 2014. Then, within a three-month span during the autumn of that year — presuming he remains in office until the next federal election, expected in late 2015 — Harper will reach eight years and 10 months as PM and overtake three other prime ministerial peers in time served: Liberal Louis St. Laurent (1948-1957); Conservative Robert Borden (1911-1920); and Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney (1984-1993).
We looked at that list here in January.
Well, I’ll hang my prognosticator’s head in shame — I did predict a Tory majority, but I didn’t think the opposition would provoke an election in 2011 to give it to us.
I think that Harper’s got a fighting shot at winning in October 2015 (he’s the favourite now), but I don’t think he beats Laurier for longest-serving consecutive years as PM.
Well, we’ll see.
Is Bob Rae gearing up for the Liberal leadership? Warren Kinsella thinks so.
Can Newt Gingrich actually be president? It’s looking more and more possible.
The Newt Gingrich surge has moved him to the top of the polls in Iowa, big gains in New Hampshire and now a two-point edge over President Obama in a hypothetical general election match-up.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds Gingrich attracting 45% of the vote while President Obama earns support from 43%. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.
The Liberals are back in second place, or so says Nik Nanos’s latest poll.
The federal Liberals have picked up support from both parties and are now in a dead heat with the NDP, a new poll shows, as concern over the economy returns to the fore for Canadians.
The Nanos Research Poll, conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV, shows the Liberals with 28.1 per cent, up from 23.4 per cent last month.
The Liberals were bolstered by added support in vote-rich Ontario, where the party is now in a statistical tie with the Conservatives, the poll shows.
The Tories, meanwhile, edged down to 35.6 per cent from 37.7 per cent in last month’s poll, and the NDP dropped to 27.3 per cent from 30 per cent.
I’m not worried about the Tories’ numbers — they’re still ahead nationally, and this is a standard between-elections poll for Stephen Harper. (The CPC gets a ten-point bounce when the writ period approaches.) But the Liberals’ numbers are more interesting: they’re solidly in the top two parties in Ontario — marginally ahead, in this one.
So… are the Liberals alive?
Update: Chantal Hebert –
A couple of polls does not make spring and based on the November numbers, it is premature to say that the Bloc and the federal Liberals are on the way back to parliamentary prominence.
Support for sovereignty continues to slip in Quebec, a trend that acts as a drag on all parties associated with the secessionist project.
The healthy Liberal numbers in Ontario are not matched by a recovery in the other regions of the country. In Quebec, the party is polling in the mid-teens — a level at which it would have to work hard just to get its current MPs re-elected.
What the polling trends in Ontario and Quebec suggest, though, is that a permanent NDP membership in the major federal leagues is hardly a done deal.
By focusing on leaping to government rather than on consolidating its second-place position, the party may have gotten dangerously ahead of itself. …
With every passing week, more ink is expended on the dynamics of the future Liberal leadership campaign than on the ongoing NDP one.
It does not help that the Liberals have an interim leader who happens to compare favorably with any of the candidates seeking the permanent leadership of the NDP.
Ontario was long seen as Bob Rae’s Achilles’ heel. But the November polls suggest otherwise.
Brian Topp has released his tax plan.
The gist? He wants to add a new top tax bracket of 35% at $250,000 in income (the current top rate of 29% kicks in at 128,000), and tax capital gains as ordinary income.
Capital gains currently are taxed at 50% of income, so the effective marginal tax rate on capital gains is 14.5% — right in line with similar jurisdictions (capital gains are taxed at 15% by the US government).
Suffice it to say, this would be a huge tax hike on Canadian wealth-creators.
Which shows that Brian Topp is right in line with his party.
Here’s the Democrats’ first salvo against Romney, Mitt vs. Mitt.
It’s pretty effective, except for this: how can Romney possibly be painted as an extremist now?
He’s obviously a non-ideological technocrat.
We all know about Romney’s ideological somersaults.
So, you know, if we’re looking for a replacement for the current president, and we are worried about those scary Tea Party folks, well… doesn’t this burnish his centrist credentials?
Update: Mind you, Gingrich is no paragon of conservatism.
Perhaps the best demonstration that a leader should know as little as possible about foreign policy is Michael Ignatieff. The former Liberal leader, BBC globetrotter and Kennedy School thinker is the subject of a new book by our distinguished colleague Peter C. Newman, who signed on to chronicle Ignatieff’s triumph in the recent elections but who remains flexible based on changing events. Newman is down on the Liberals these days, but remains oddly persuaded Ignatieff had greatness in him.
“This party needs to change, this party has to grow, this party needs to renew,” Ignatieff told Newman in July, 2010. “We’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do.”
“If people could have only heard the way he talked to me on the bus,” Newman writes. I think that’s precisely backwards. People heard, loud and clear, that the Liberals need to change, grow and renew, and that they had a hell of a lot of work to do. So people declined to elect them.
Meanwhile, Harper’s image as a Bastard is cemented by this piece.
Hell, just from the layout — headline of “Decency alone can’t save Parliament”, with a photo of the PM firing off something from his seat 11 over on the Speaker’s right.
TORONTO – Count us out, says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
Hudak vowed Tuesday his party will vote against the government’s Throne Speech, and risk sparking another election.
“We have a serious jobs crisis in Ontario and we have a serious spending crisis in Ontario,” Hudak said just moments after Lt.-Gov. David Onley wrapped up the brief speech outlining the minority Liberals’ agenda for the new session.
“Today’s Throne Speech meant that (Premier) Dalton McGuinty failed to address either of those big problems. There are no new ideas today. I’m deeply disappointed.” …
However, he downplayed the prospect of a sparking an election so soon after voters went to the polls last month, saying the Liberals have the last word.
“I guess that ball is now in Dalton McGuinty’s court,” Hudak said. “But I’ve been very clear from the beginning — if you want Conservative votes, you need to address the spending crisis in Ontario and the jobs crisis.”
Hudak’s bravado comes with a safety net — New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath suggested her party’s 17 votes were leaning towards the Liberals.
Hudak’s early decision to declare he’ll vote No Confidence keeps him out of the box Bill Graham, Dion and Iggy spent 5 years in.
That’s slightly unfair to Bill Graham, who wasn’t so dumb — it was the Bloc that passed Harper’s first two budgets. But it’s analytically correct: the Official Opposition, loyal or not, must oppose.
Otherwise, it becomes ridiculous.
So, with the new Throne Speech, the Liberals are threatening to run the following campaign against Tim Hudak if he doesn’t support their agenda: “TIM HUDAK FORCED AN UNNECESSARY ELECTION SEVEN WEEKS AFTER THE LAST ONE.” Shades of Stephen Harper, there. (And another indicator that Harper wrote the book on how to deal with minority mandates.)
Hudak? He seems to be holding firm.
The battle for the hearts and minds of Ontarians is back on. After barely a day back in the Legislature, Tory Leader Tim Hudak reverted to guerilla warfare by threatening to vote against the throne speech, setting off fresh speculation of an election confrontation.
But the battlefield analogies only go so far, because this is more jaw-jaw than war-war. The Progressive Conservatives may be indulging in mere psy-op tactics as they try to position themselves for the next war, so soon after losing the last one. The truth is that they are as much allied with the government as against it, because they want cutbacks — just sooner rather than later.
Of course, timing is everything in politics, and the Liberals are wishing themselves a long life in power. Tuesday’s throne speech suggested the minority Legislature had a “four-year mandate.” Speaking to reporters later, McGuinty kept repeating his full mandate mantra, but his public musings sound more like dream-dream than jaw-jaw. McGuinty knows he serves at the pleasure of a minority Legislature, and the early signals from the Tories are ominous. If their ideas aren’t adopted, they will abandon the Liberals.
Well, we’ll see.
What do I think? I think Hudak should do what I think Ignatieff should have done — act as opposition leader, and oppose.
There’s something in how Harper behaved with Martin — hang back, negotiate something with the Throne Speech, initially let a budget pass for one’s own reasons, and then decide that the government needs to go, and stick with it.
But basically act this way: when you make an election threat, always be prepared to follow through.
Received “When the Gods Changed” on my Kindle at 1 AM or thereabouts. Naturally, I’ve already read it through.
Peter Newman is pretty pessimistic about the Liberals’ future.
But it’s still a sympathetic portrayal of the Liberals’ doomed last leader, Michael Ignatieff. Newman can’t quite figure out why Ignatieff couldn’t capture Canadians’ imaginations.
I got a kick out of some of it — there’s an amazing lack of self-comprehension.
For instance, this passage from the last chapter, on election night:
Ignatieff could not seem to absorb them. He’d done the equivalent of flying to the moon, and must have been wondering how this shocking result could have come from all those goddamn burgers he flipped and all those lies he heard from strangers who promised to vote for him. His disappointment bit into his face, hardened its topography and caused his eyes to water, though he maintained a frozen smile.
The voters, those bastards!
Even better is this excerpt from just before that, in an interview extract between the penultimate and ultimate chapters, “Ignatieff on Canada and Harper”:
Our political culture is absolutely distinct. It changes the character of the people who live it.
I just don’t think Harper understands. He speaks French, and that’s to his credit. What he doesn’t understand is that this breeds moderation into the national character. We cannot afford to be an ideological community. We cannot afford to be a country in which adversaries are enemies. …
Yes Michael, Harper doesn’t get Canada. That’s clearly the lesson to take away from your five-year foray into Canadian politics.