The latest Canadian opinion polls suggest that Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government enjoys a solid lead over the opposition parties. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's attempt to force an early election look doomed to failure – and his own position as his party's leader is now in jeopardy – with a clear majority of Canadians opposing another vote. Canada elected a second minority Conservative government just one year ago. The largely left-wing opposition parties attempted to remove Stephen Harper almost immediately but he is proving to be the great survivor of Canadian politics.
Writing for the National Post, however, George Jonas regrets that Mr Harper has never moved beyond "pussyfoot conservatism". The article is now more than a month old but Jonas says right-wing leaders that govern with confidence are rare things – particularly in a left-leaning nation like Canada:
"Would a majority make [Stephen Harper] govern more like a true blue Tory, perhaps even a Tory with a libertarian tinge? Would he champion ideas and policies of the kind he championed once as head of the National Citizens Coalition? Would he try to stem the tide of the regulatory state? Would he buck interventionist trends in business, environment, education and free speech? Would he reform, or even abolish, human rights commissions? Nix the gun registry? Help cool the globe without freezing the economy? Make sure "universal" in healthcare doesn't translate into "universally unavailable"?
What would it take for a Conservative government to feel sufficiently mandated to pursue conservative policies? Would a majority do it? I doubt it — not if past performance is an indication…
Some centre-right leaders in the United Kingdom and the United States haven't been as vulnerable to the syndrome of pussyfoot-conservatism as Canada's centre-right leaders. But even the least wobbly, Margaret Thatcher, say, and Ronald Reagan, weren't entirely impervious to it. With all their self-confidence and charisma, Thatcher and Reagan never radiated that cocksure, hubristic aura of self-righteous intellectual and moral conceit that's the hallmark of centre-left leaders from Pierre Elliott Trudeau to Barack Obama.
Simply put, the centre-left feels entitled to govern; the centre-right doesn't."