Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - So much for Tories' tough year

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Credits: REUTERS


A year ago, Liberal prognosticators were salivating over their crystal balls anticipating a hellish 2012 for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, predicting the provinces would be rising up against him in collective fury.

But this never happened.

The reason, of course, is that provincial governments that should have been bounced from office managed to get re-elected.

This threw a wrench into everything.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Yukon, incumbent governments were re-elected almost without breaking a sweat.

This was no mean feat.

Just ask the pundits who had predicted their doom.

A global recession, scandals at every turn, and that so-called "need for change" should have resulted in the New Democrats of Manitoba and the Ontario Liberals and their Pinocchio premier heading to oblivion.

But what happened instead? They got re-elected.

For Stephen Harper -- re-elected in 2011, and finally with a healthy majority -- the struggle of the provincial governments to keep their own heads above water meant they could be virtually ignored.

Sure, they hemmed and hawed at a gathering of finance ministers in Victoria a year ago, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty knew he had them in a corner.

They could complain all they wanted about the funding of health care, and be outraged over the lack of negotiations, but they were totally outgunned by the federal Conservatives' majority.

And, back in Ottawa, it was a joke.

After the Liberals annihilation, they were looking for a new leader, and a new face to be president of their party.

When former Liberal Rat Packer Sheila Copps presented herself as candidate to be that new face (she narrowly lost), and with Bob Rae hanging onto an interim leadership, we knew the Harper Conservatives had no worries.

The provinces, even as a collective, could mount no offence, and this was before Quebec narrowly elected a laughable government under Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois and the construction scandal had too many high-level politicians being figuratively fitted with cement boots.

Today nothing much has changed.

By this time next year, however, Canadians will finally know just how empty Justin Trudeau is as a vessel for change.

Liberal prognosticators will disagree, of course.

But they're used to being wrong.

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