British Prime Minister Harold Wilson coined the phrase that even one week is a long time in politics.
What the socialist leader meant was politicians can wake up on Monday and find they were top of the opinion polls, only to go to bed on Friday night and find the opinions polls had collapsed for them.
This insight came back on reading about Stephen Harper’s immensely successful trip to Britain, followed by a high profile visit to France.
In Britain, Harper had a private 30-minute session with Queen Elizabeth, who still holds great affection in the eyes of most Canadians.
Then he became the only Canadian prime minister since William Lyon Mackenzie King to make a speech before the British Parliament, and King’s speech was made back in 1944 in the closing days of the Second World War.
Harper’s speech to the British Parliament gave some required nods about how Westminster is the modern cradle of democracy, how Canada’s affinity with Britain never wanes, but then a subtle slap at the USA for its reckless government spending, and a slap at Communist China for its authoritaristic nature.
Some might say Harper’s speech was made up simply of nice platitudes, but this is a man who is a great monarchist and traditionalist, who put the ‘Royal’ back into the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and got rid of nonsensical art in Canadian embassies and replaced it with portraits of the Queen.
After Britain, Harper was off to France for more favourable newsmaking, and then to the G-8 meeting in Ireland, fighting for Canadian issues and noting Canada now has the strongest economy in that group of countries.
Just a week ago I would have said Harper’s political career was over because of the apparent scandals in the Senate — now I’m not so sure. Opinion polls can go upside, as well as downside.
And a week ago Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was patting Senator Mac Harb on the back, saying Harb’s alleged spending was entirely different to that of Conservative Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. Now Trudeau has egg all over his face amid revelations suggesting Harb may have billed taxpayers for a whopping $230,000 for which he wasn’t entitled.
Of course, none of these allegations have been proven in court, but mud tends to stick. Trudeau is also in hot water for earning a staggering $277,000 in speaking fees from non-profit outfits and charities.
Also a week ago New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair was hammering Harper with great pomposity over the Senate scandal — now it has been found he harassed an RCMP Security Officer on Parliament Hill after going through several stop signs, and when questioned by the officer said, “Don’t you know who I am?” That’s a statement one should never make to anyone in authority.
So, if you are following my drift, the tables have been turned on both Trudeau and Mulcair, while Harper continues his successful visit to Europe.
Of course, Harper and his Conservatives aren’t out of the stormy waters yet, but the wind has surely been let out of the sails of Trudeau and Mulcair. Harper’s demise at the next federal election two years hence is no longer a sure thing.
It would be nice to know what Queen Elizabeth thinks of all this. Perhaps unlike Queen Victoria, Elizabeth is amused.
Paul Jackson is a former Calgary Sun editor who now spends his time between Sylvan Lake, Calgary and Guadalajara, Mexico.