The government in Ottawa is going through its toughest time since the last federal election. For Justin Trudeau, however, things seem pretty good since the Liberal Party named him leader.
This is according to recent polls, anyway.
But if we consider polling discrepancies where the predicted winner ends up losing – like the provincial NDP’s surprise defeat at the hands of the incumbent B.C. Liberals – it’s apparent that things are far from over for the Conservative Party.
True enough, his first electoral test – the term is generous – was a crowning success. However, many have interpreted the Liberal win over the Conservatives in Labrador’s by-elections as a sign that Trudeau’s election has had the intended impact. But we must be sensible: a by-election doesn’t announce a new government, just as a single swallow cannot be the harbinger of Spring. We need to take this by-election with a grain of salt and remember that this riding has strong Liberal traditions. The outgoing Conservative MP only won by 80 votes in 2011.
That said, the Conservative boat is on troubled waters these days. It’s been a long time since the Conservative government has struggled to control its political agenda. And now, alas, the Senate is causing it trouble.
I’m convinced the Prime Minister recognizes the irony in the fact that the Senate, a chamber he has long criticized, coupled with his very public Conservative appointments to the body, is now back to haunt him. When all this blows over, will Stephen Harper see a chance to convince Canadians the Senate is in serious need of reform?
The Senate has been in Prime Minister Harper’s line of fire since the Reform Party days. He has asked for its abolition on numerous occasions. If we believe comments coming from right, left and centre, it seems people are warming up to the idea of reform in the Senate; maybe not its abolishment but, some serious changes at the very least.
In another ironic twist of fate, these unflattering stories about the Senate and its members make the headlines just as the government announces tightening measures in order to control government employees’ performance. We should perhaps consider the proposed measures as far as Senators are concerned. As for MPs, their performance is a matter for the electorate, who have the responsibility of passing the last judgment.
Standing in the middle of the storm, the Prime Minister doesn’t look overly concerned, and understandably so. B.C.’s recent elections have shown just how long two years can be in politics. Since the next electoral rendezvous won’t be until 2015, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge until then. However, any government must be careful not to accumulate so much trouble that the electorate will deem it controversial.
As for the Conservatives, we can only imagine that they can’t wait for summer to roll along and carry them away from the chamber’s limelight.
Translation Monique Kroeger