Friday, October 05, 2007

Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu?

Looking at the recent troubles of Stephane Dion I cannot help but think I have been here before.

I really do not need to go into all of the problems as they have been well discussed.

What strikes me are the similarities of his situation with that of Stephen Harper after he won the leadership of the Conservative Party. At the time, the takeover of the PCPC by the CA created all sorts of problems. New announcements by prominent Progressive Conservatives that they were leaving the new Conservative Party were rampant and it all culminated in Scott Brison switching sides to the Liberals.

The pundits at the time had written off Mr. Harper. The Conservatives were moribund in Quebec, Mr. Harper was seen as an uncharismatic policy wonk who could not connect with voters, the Party was having difficulty raising money and Mr. Harper was having great difficulties organizing the Party. The pundits all believed that Mr. Harper would be crushed by the Big Red Machine and that the end of his political career was just an election away. Sound familiar?

Of course there are differences. Stephen Harper was saved by the Sponsorship Scandal which was a three year cancer that ate away at the Liberals and their support. I doubt that the Liberals can expect such a gift from the Conservatives.

However, there are other very important differences that need to be kept in mind. During Mr. Harper's time of troubles the Conservatives were sitting in the low 20s in the polls while the Liberals were in the mid to high 40s. As well, this was the period when Paul Martin could still do no wrong. He was the golden boy of politics, respected, LIKED, and popular in every part of the country. (Indeed, there was even talk that the Liberals would actually pick up seats in Alberta.) Can the same be said of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives?

As well, during this period the Conservatives were sitting at single digits in Quebec and they had absolutely no organization there. The Liberals on the other hand have a base in Quebec and they do have an organization even if it is in some disarray at the moment.

Yet despite those realities Stephen Harper was a few badly timed comments, from some of his candidates, away from winning the 2004 election and he won the 2006 election.

Compared to Mr. Harper, Mr Dion is in great shape. I do not know when the next election will be but as things stand now the Liberals do have a realistic shot at winning it.

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