Desperate times call for desperate measures. There certainly seems to be a whiff of desperation following the Conservative campaign these days. Rumours of dissension in the ranks followed by the importation of the so-called “Wizard of Oz” to shore up the team would certainly suggest things are going awry.
Harper himself seems lethargic – barely engaged at times; content to say the same thing over and over without much enthusiasm. He claims he still has fire in his belly but it hardly shows. Maybe this long campaign is starting to wear on him – he is after all not a man comfortable in the company of others.
What next? I expect we will see the Prime Minister take a pause from the campaign. It will likely be done in the few days before the next debate. That provides cover at least. He can be preparing for the fray – studying up so that he can make a better impression, persuade people that he still has a handle on the economy.
The oddest thing about this campaign so far has been the extent it has been a one-man show. While you might expect that from the opposition parties – they are trying to present their leader as a potential PM after all – it is the Conservatives that have put all their money on a single representative. While Trudeau has talked a lot about his team and even brought in former PMs to bolster his campaign, Harper has hardly let anyone out of the compound. The Finance Minister has been invisible and even Jason Kenney, his last remaining go to guy, has been curiously silent in the last week or two. Of course, Harper may be on to something given the performance of Chris Alexander. Maybe he wants to lose the same way the myth says he won – on his own.
Mulcair too has been running a largely lonely campaign. He has no ex-PMs to call on but he does have a few stars. They do appear on radio and TV (unlike most Conservative spokesmen) but haven’t been highlighted in the main campaign. But maybe that is yet to come.
There is after all more than five weeks to go. Despite the seemingly endless campaign we’ve actually only reached the half-way point. There is still an entire normal election period to go and anything can happen – good or bad – for all the campaigns in the coming weeks.
Still, it is the Conservative campaign that faces the greatest challenge. Their base has finally been revealed to be smaller than everyone (except me) suspected – something like 24% of the population – and their room for growth is smaller than the other parties. Despite Harper’s blustering, a minority Conservative government – if he wins the most seats and the GG agrees to let him face the House – is unlikely to survive the Throne Speech. What then? Another election or a minority government of another stripe?
The Wizard of Oz may help – though if he turns out to be the racist some seem to think he is, he may not. He has a good track record but he’s failed before. But if he constructs a new Harper majority, it will be desperate times indeed.
And that’s ten minutes.