Your results may vary, of course. Earlier in January, Ekos tagged Mr. Harper with a whopping 59% disapproval rating, against 34% approval â€” so, a -25% approval deficit. (Bob Rae, by comparison, had 44% approval against 24% disapproval.) That sounds bad. But in September 2010, the last time Ekos asked after the leadersâ€™ reputations, it found Mr. Harper had a -20% approval deficit. And only 32% support. And then he went on and won a majority.
After nearly a decade of fearmongering, the Conservatives just keep gaining votes. The Opposition has been in disarray, certainly, but thatâ€™s precisely the point: People can see that Mr. Harperâ€™s actions simply do not conform to the malevolent top-line items on his purported agenda. Itâ€™s far from clear to me, therefore, that itâ€™s wise to keep insisting that agenda exists. As Chantal HÃ©bert recently argued, the opposition partiesâ€™ screeching about Old Age Security may well make the modest reforms the government eventually proposes more palatable.
If Mr. Harper does indeed transform Canada into â€œDickensâ€™ London,â€ as Mr. Caplan puts it, then his party will presumably go down in flames in 2015. Certainly, there will be voter fatigue. Never mind the Conservativesâ€™ serial murder of their own openness-and-accountability promises. This is an ostensibly pro-free-speech government that, on Monday, denied Green Party leader Elizabeth May leave to speak on the legacy of Vaclav Havel. These people are just as hardwired for eventual self-destruction as the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives before them.
But you know what? I have this weird feeling that Canada in 2015 is going to be pretty much the same place as it is now. And that Mr. Harperâ€™s would-be successors â€” not least the relentlessly Harper-bashing NDP leadership candidates â€” are going to have to go out and win this on their own merits, not just on Mr. Harperâ€™s demerits. If youâ€™re wondering why Canadians arenâ€™t rising up in furious protest, itâ€™s at least worth considering that, despite your very best efforts, they are simply not as angry as you assumed they were.