054_G18_Canada

Global_18

In Focus Canada A three-horse race With a general election due next year, the Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives would all have it that they stand a good chance of winning Susan Delacourt During his high-profi le trip to Israel in January, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sat down at a piano and belted out a serenade to his host, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The song was the Beatles’ Hey Jude, and so Harper’s Israeli audience was treated to this Canadian politician’s musical ruminations about playing it cool, the world upon his shoulders and, above all, making things better. The audience may have been an international one, but making things better is very much a domestic goal for a politician entering his ninth year in power – as well as for his government, which spent much of 2013 promising its citizens that it was getting “back on track”. The average lifespan of governments in Canada is roughly ten years – a statistic that is lifting the spirits of the opposition New Democratic and Liberal parties and dampening the back-on-track aspirations of the ruling Conservatives. The next federal election is not set to take place until October 2015, but that has not stopped speculation that Harper may fi nd a reason to call one sooner or even that this Prime Minister, known for cool, even chilly calculation, will take a bow and make his exit, recognising that re-election odds are not in his favour. “One day I open the paper and see that I’m planning to resign, the next day I open the paper and see that I’m calling a snap election ahead of the legislated date,” Harper said in a year-end interview with the Global television network in December. “We have an election scheduled in 2015 and I plan to lead the party in that.” As the late John Lennon might have advised Harper, the Beatles’ fan, however: life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Politically, Harper and the Conservatives have been damaged by a long-running scandal that has reached into the highest 54 l www.global -br ief ing.org second quar ter 2014 global


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