Columnist Lorne Gunter wrote in today’s National Post:
“Somewhere around Nov. 1, Stephen Harper’s government became the longest serving Conservative minority ever — by a factor of three. No other Conservative minority — there have been four previous ones since Confederation — has managed to last as long as seven months. In early November, Harper’s entered its 21st month. It is now almost 23 months old.
The longevity of the Harper minority was the most under-reported political story of 2007; and not just its longevity, but its effectiveness despite its minority status, too.”
“Before Harper’s, Canada’s Conservative minorities produced almost nothing other than (usually) a brief timeout between Liberal majorities.
Harper’s, though, is already the fourth-longest surviving minority since Confederation and the reason for its success is the prime minister’s strategic genius. He has mastered the art of manoeuvring his opponents into corners from which they cannot escape and without their noticing until it is too late.”
“Despite its minority, the Harper government has cut taxes, changed childcare policy, backed us away from draconian Kyoto emission targets in favour of made-in-Canada reductions, curtailed the federal spending power, increased provincial autonomy and tried to end the ridiculous leniency of our criminal justice system.”
“But what makes its achievements all the more remarkable is that the Harper minority is the smallest of the 10 minorities Canada has had. According to the Library of Parliament, the average lifespan of a Canadian minority government is one year, three months and 29 days. Come Feb. 6, Mr. Harper’s government will have been in office two years. And with a minority of 60 seats, it is far and away the smallest minority ever. Even when the gap between the government and the opposition is calculated as a percentage of the total number of seats in the Commons, this is our smallest minority ever (19.5%).
Mr. Harper also has no ideological allies among the opposition, unlike Liberal minority prime minister’s who can always count on the NDP to prop them up.
It is remarkable that a Tory minority has lasted this long and, with qualifiers, achieved so much.”