Harper’s surprising legacy?

The Conservatives suffered a major defeat in the last federal election, and many fingers pointed at Harper. Out he went. But could it be that the positive effects of Harper’s time at the helm are only now starting to surface?

Yes, the Conservatives suffered, but it was merely a setback. The NDP brand, on the other hand, is systematically being rejected across the country.

The federal NDP went from almost clinching the lead in the last election – nearly forming the government – to a distant third place. They were the official opposition prior to the election, but were demoted, despite initial indications they might be promoted. In the aftermath of that stunning loss the party very quickly fled to its radical roots by pushing the Leap Manifesto at the recent convention in Edmonton. They also booted their leader and now find themselves enduring an existential struggle to define themselves.

They suffered nationally, but then went on to win provincially, taking Alberta by storm. Huh. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

After that, the NDP were kept in their extremely small minority position in Saskatchewan in the last election. No significant gains or losses (not that they have much further down to go anyway) contra the reigning right-leaning Saskatchewan party.

Then there’s Manitoba. They just voted to oust the reigning NDP in an upset almost as stunning as the NDP victory in Alberta. It might have been as stunning if Manitoba were a major economic player in our nation, but left-leaning policies tend to neuter progress wherever they are implemented, so whatever happens in Manitoba does not impact the country nearly as much as what happens in Alberta. In their stead, Manitobans elected a conservative government.

Across much of the country the NDP brand has, and continues to, suffer major losses. As they do, the veneer of “modest left” is wearing off and their radical left roots are becoming clearer. Indeed, the radical roots of the NDP in Alberta are showing through loud and clear as they pursue a bunch of tax and social policies that were never in their election platform. Classic bait and switch maneuver.

Speaking of Alberta, doesn’t the NDP victory disprove this trend?After all, they not only won, they crushed the provincial conservatives with a commanding majority victory. If the political analysts and commentators are right, then the NDP vote was less about support for NDP policies and more about a rejection of the corruption and chaos that Albertans saw in the reigning PC party. The sense of political “entitlement” exhibited by those at the helm became too much to bear.

Subsequent to the election the NDP polling numbers have tanked which seems to confirm that the votes they received were never really for them, but against “the other guys.” So even the Alberta victory was not fundamentally about support for the NDP.

Indeed the trend across the country seems to be that the NDP brand (which is revealing its far-left tendencies) is not considered politically viable for most Canadians. Most Canadians seem to want to avoid the far left, or at least more of them want to avoid it than previously wanted to avoid it.

Which, by definition, is a wide-spread shift to the right. Not much of one, admittedly, but a shift nonetheless. And in a country as historically prone to flirting with socialism as Canada is, that shift is no small accomplishment. Most Canadians probably still lean generally left, but it seems their left-leaning isn’t as far as it used to be.

And quite likely that accomplishment is largely due to the efforts of Harper to demonstrate that Conservative policies do, in fact, work. They are attractive. Conservative principles at least look more plausible than “the other guys.” So despite his shortcomings (which even many right-leaning Canadians will acknowledge) Harper does appear to have steered the views of Canadians at least a little further away from the left than we used to see things. And that is clearly a good thing.

Why is that a good thing? You’ll have to read For the Love of Alberta to learn more.