I was at the University of Calgary University Club on Thursday for a Faculty luncheon, the purpose of which was to recognize volunteers who had made a contribution to academic activities and studies at the University (which usually means those recognized helped to raise money). It was one of those sedate and proper events where behaviour is genteel and reserved, and talk is measured and civilized. Present were a few faculty members and staff, some show-case students, and several men and women from business and professional circles.
What seemed to be the preponderence of the attendees were many aging, and obviously successful business men together with their loyal and faithful (and probably more than a few long suffering) wives. This latter group, well into their twilight years, have the look of being comfortable in the knowledge that for them the rat race was well-nigh over and they are quite satisfied with where they finished in the pack. In other words, since it was taking place in Calgary, it was mostly a Conservative Party gathering. Or so it seemed.
Although the room seemed more appropriate to a cup of tea, I remained true to my principles and took instead a glass of good Merlot, and entered into conversation with several of the attendees who were milling about before the speeches. The talk turned to the by-election in Calgary Elbow where two days before the Liberals landed their first victory ever and for the first time increased their city standings in the Legislature to four members. This group of Conservatives were happy with the victory. None of them could in fact stomach Stelmach (now, there's a line!). According to them - still speaking in the measured and sober manner as befitted the occasion - he had done nothing as Premier, had neglected the cities and was not up to the job. This Taft fellow looked pretty good to them.
The talk then drifted to Stephen Harper. Whereas the name 'Stelmach' seemed to stir up little emotion amongst our group, it was quite another matter when the name 'Harper' entered the conversation. Smiles turned into frowns. What were friendly and affable eyes, turned fierce and angry. "That liar," uttered a fuming and animated, quite formidable senior lady, who a few moments ago appeared and behaved as everybody's favorite grandmother. "He's broken so many promises," uttered another gentleman. "Look how he has cuddled up to Quebec," remarked another. Another stated, "I've never been a Liberal. I've been a Progressive Conservative, I was in the Reform, the Alliance and supported the new Conservative Party and voted for Harper. But never again!" Nods of approval all around.
I suspected, although did not confirm, that their anger was probably related to Harper's senseless flip-flop on income trusts, which adversely affected retirees with some money in much greater numbers than other Canadians. They had seen a good part of their net worth disappear forever with a stroke of the Harper pen. He broke his word and squandered the support of this formerly loyal and reliable segment of the Conservative constituency. Judging from their comments - if they were representative of their class, and I suspect they were - they will not return to the fold in time for the next election. If ever.
A Decima poll released June 12, had the Grits ahead of the Conservatives, 32 to 29, with the NDP at 18 and the BQ and Greens tied at 9 each. Liberals led the Conservatives in Atlantic Canada 38 to 31, and Ontario 39 to 33. In Quebec, although the Bloc led with 38, the Grits were ahead of the Tories 23 to 16.
Take my word for it. Stevie is going down. Prime Minister Dion, ah, it has a nice sound to it, doesn't it?