Your results may vary, of course. Earlier in January, Ekos tagged Mr. Harper with a whopping 59% disapproval rating, against 34% approval — 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 leaders’ 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 that’s precisely the point: People can see that Mr. Harper’s actions simply do not conform to the malevolent top-line items on his purported agenda. It’s far from clear to me, therefore, that it’s wise to keep insisting that agenda exists. As Chantal Hébert recently argued, the opposition parties’ 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 “Dickens’ London,” 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 Conservatives’ 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. Harper’s would-be successors — not least the relentlessly Harper-bashing NDP leadership candidates — are going to have to go out and win this on their own merits, not just on Mr. Harper’s demerits. If you’re wondering why Canadians aren’t rising up in furious protest, it’s at least worth considering that, despite your very best efforts, they are simply not as angry as you assumed they were.