It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The Federal Grits, divided and at war - with Grits - with gaping, bleeding, largely self-inflicted wounds. The wretched odor of Adscam apparently permeating deep into the Canadian landscape. Grits broke and Conservatives flush. Grits in the sloughs of despond. Conservatives cheerfully aloft, setting sail for what was sure to be their era in the sun.
The Grits, out of power and with a new leader - a serious and austere ex-Prof, struggling with the Queen's English, broadly berated and ridiculed even by the political literati, cognisenti and glitterati of his own Province.
The Conservatives, basking still in their minority victory of January 2006, with an apparently young, organized, and decisive man in motion leading his team of new eager young men and women, prepared and ready to take the country in a new and exciting direction. Ah, they thought, just a few more yards to the majority government finish line. No photo finish this time. The only thing that will be finished will be the Grits.
Unhappily for Bush's pal Steve Harper, it is not turning out that way.
The great unravelling began with the Conservative about face on the income trust issue. It continued with the billions of dollars of bribe money given to Quebec in the last budget. It gathered speed with the disaster of the detainee issue in Afghanistan and accusations of a coverup, together with the gargantuan and the continued ineptitude of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor. And then, further into the mire with Harper's feeble greenhouse gas policy flogged by his pushy, frat boy pit bull John Baird, more suited to managing the beer machine than selling any kind of a policy.
Hovering over all of this was and is the obvious (some would say odious) ideological love affair between the Prime Minister and probably the most detested and inept western leader in recent memory - G. W. Bush. Not to mention, the Prime Minister's bent for surly and extreme partisanship and Joe McCarthy-like allegations trashing the integrity and motives of Opposition members together with his disdain for the press.
The result of this potent, kool-aid cocktail of incompetence and hubris is a series of polls that put the Grits and Conservatives neck and neck, with the Bloc not wanting to play Jack Kevorkian in the Commons and no Party wanting a quick election. Not yet, in any event.
In the meantime, Stephane Dion continues to slowly and steadily hone and develop his skills. This past weekend, he wooed a couple of hundred local Grits at a fund raising dinner in Calgary. He spoke slowly and clearly to an impressed and rapt audience as he set forth his vision of Canada under a Dion Government. He was joined by his wife Janine Krieber, a solid and brainy politician in her own right, who charmed the crowd.
The next day in a speech to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, he promised to help Canadian municipalities reduce a 100 million dollar infrastructure deficit, with some long-term planning and the permanent transfer of the federal gas tax. Dion's speech earned him three standing ovations.
Is it Aesop or Hans Christian Anderson? Is Dion the Turtoise, and Harper the Hare? Or is Dion the Ugly Duckling becoming a swan? Take your pick. But Dion will be the Prime Minister after the next election.