The old ideological divisions among Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats -- the old 20th century conflicts between the state and markets, big or small government -- no longer define the political landscape. Twenty-first century politics are much more idiosyncratic and dependent on character.
The Conservatives haven't yet figured out that a majority government doesn't need to be constantly on the attack. It's time for them to take a deep breath, pause, shift gears and be the best majority government they can be.
Whether it's labour rights, the long gun registry, the Canadian Wheat Board, approaches to combating crime or illegal drug use -- the list can go on and on and on -- the message from the Harper Conservatives is clear: if you don't agree with us, we will come after you.
The danger for the Conservatives is that this way of operating can become the easy way out to avoid extensive debate on issues that are controversial. Sooner or later the public will see this as Harper bullying the opposition parties or as Harper being undemocratic, and they will see the Conservatives as arrogant.
As Christmas approaches, what will be the topic of discussion around the kitchen table across Canada? Will it be the language proficiency of the auditor general or will Canadians be ticked off with having to pay far higher prices than Americans for the same items?
Canadian consumers are growing increasingly frustrated that we pay more than our American neighbours for the same products even though our dollar is comparable to the US dollar. The problem for Harper is how do you contain that frustration and prevent it from turning into anger that can cost you votes?
No one should have been completely surprised that the Conservatives were appealing to voters in the rest of Canada, given Québec's declining weight in the federation.
Frank Klees' decision to run for Ontario Speaker had the effect of handing over that seat, but there was a catch. They had to get their people to stand down in the race for Speaker. If even one Liberal MPP were to run, it throws the Klees bombshell into doubt. Can he still win? We will see.
While the NDP is so concerned about the U.S. surcharge for Canadian travellers, what about all of those marketing boards that inflate the price Canadian consumers pay?
Mulcair is reputed to have a quick and unpredictable temper, which makes him exciting, but he also seems to look beyond the present. He's said that if the NDP ever wants to form the government, it must be prepared to "do things differently." That sounds like an innovative guy who is anxious to break fresh ground.
Control from the backrooms was always there, but never to the extent that it is now. Until the present generation of MPs, especially in the Conservative caucus, stand up to PMO (and other MPs to their respective leader's offices), not much will happen to improve their lot or that of MPs in general.
The "occupiers" would accomplish more if they would show up on voting day and cast a ballot. They would accomplish more if they financially supported and participated in a political party of their choice.
The once-mighty NDP, led by rookie leader Dwain Lingenfelter, is poised for a humiliating defeat. There is a degree of panic in the party leadership and it is illustrated in their platform. Sensing little chance of winning, the NDP has resorted to old left policies in a desperate attempt to shore up support from unions.
Proportional representation's advocates invented the concept of the wasted vote, claiming that votes for losing candidates are wasted, and that under PR "every vote counts." But ultimately there is no decision. And that surely is a waste of voting.
There are some among the privileged few who believe that they are entitled to use what has been created by and belongs to us all in order to profit themselves alone. The growing gap between the rich and the rest of us is the result of this belief and it is in the process of sinking economies around the world.