Big bad Stephen Harper released his ultra-scary platform yesterday (well, it was leaked...likely in anticipation of the Liberal smear adds which will start airing next week). Among the SCARY, SCARY things he's proposing:
-Tax break for the second lowest tax bracket
-Fixed election dates
-An increase of 2,000$ per child in the child-tax deduction
-Giving 3 to 5 cents of the gasoline tax to the provinces
-More money for health care
This is about the worst case scenario for the Liberals. Harper is supporting the Health Accord signed by Jean Chretien and arguably has the stronger pro-health care platform of the two parties (we're still waiting on Martin's). Throw in Pettigrew's "ahh-shucks" Health Care comments and Martin's private physician and suddenly it becomes impossible for the Liberals to attack Harper on Health Care which had been their plan all along. In fact, there is absolutely nothing in this platform they can attack the guy on. What are they going to do? Campaign against child tax deductions? Campaign against Martin's beloved fuel tax to the cities scheme? The Liberal reaction yesterday was of the "how will we pay for this?" variety which is going to ring hollow when Martin starts making promises himself. There's nothing they can hit this platform with.
Harper has given Canadians a platform they can live with. Which means Canadians who are fed up with Martin (and I'm sure there are plenty of those) might be willing to give Stephen a chance. Don't get the wrong - the Liberals are going to go ahead with the Stockwellification of Harper but it just won't work. Attack him on Health Care? What about McLellan and Pettigrew's comments. Attack him on the war? What about David Pratt, Martin's own Minister of Defense.
I wouldn't at all be surprised if Stephen Harper is Prime Minister 6 weeks from now. Or, at the very least, within 2 or 3 years.