Federal politics in Canada seems to have settled down to the opposition parties not being able to overhaul the Conservatives in the polls and the Conservatives not being able to get into solid majority government territory, 40+ per cent. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories were ten points ahead of the Liberals, up a few points from the poll before. This week, the PM’s party has slipped a few points in the EKOS poll, but are still leading Michael Ignatieff’s Grits by a healthy margin of about seven points (32.4 to 25.5 per cent).
The troubling news for the PM though is that EKOS calculates that, if an election had been held last week, the Conservatives would have lost seats, going from their current 144 to 123, and the Liberals would have gained ten seats. The NDP would have been up four seats to 40. On the encouraging side, we have the Conservatives leading in Ontario (36.8 per cent to 29.9), the last real bastion of support for the hapless Ignatieff.
The Liberals will claim this is all good news for them since their leader is keeping PM Harper from his coveted majority, while the Conservatives will say that despite the haranguing of the opposition—cheered on by the media—over treatment of Afghan detainees, Guergis-Jaffer affair, handling of H1N1, et cetera, the Tories still have maintained a healthy lead over the Grits.
I see the status quo as a stalemate, which, if not broken soon, will cost us dearly as a country. Minority governments have their place, but the prospect of a forth in a row is unpleasant. The opposition parties are making such a mockery of our parliamentary committees they are beginning to resemble Star Chambers. Every move is made with an eye on the polls, every piece of legislation is offered based on short-term gain in public opinion. We have peace and order, but need better government than a minority parliament will allow.