The country is coming up to a significant milestone: in under a week (next Monday, to be precise), Stephen Harper will have been prime minister for five years. This puts him well past the time in office of other, less memorable PMs (Kim Campbell, Joe Clark, Charles Tupper, John Turner, Arthur Meighen) and well into the category of some of Canada’s most distinguished, like Lester Pearson. (No Suez Crisis for Harper yet; he’s just getting marks for attendance here.) This is, of course, causing a flurry of reportage from the national press, who are trying to tell their readers and listeners What It All Means.
Is Harper remaking the nation in his own image? Or is Canada just humming along under his benign but light-handed guidance? Is Harper a tactical genius or a petty dictator? Or both? Don’t ask more than one reporter, because that’ll just start a fight.
Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff would like to enter the ranks of significant federal politicians, so he’s out on tour (again), this time visiting ridings currently held by other parties. The problem so far this week is that Monday and Tuesday have been pretty big news days, and “Ignatieff still wants to be PM someday” doesn’t make for great copy. Between the Tory attack ads, Harper’s interview with Peter Mansbridge (the PMO takes CBC’s calls?) and today’s more sombre news, it’s going to be hard for Ignatieff to make the front pages. It’s so bad that a story about Oakville cats being stuck inside beat out Ignatieff for the front page of the Toronto Star, hardly a Conservative rag.
Ignatieff was in London yesterday, where the Liberals got this adorable video of some poor, confused child calling him “Mr. Prime Minister,” but he’s in Toronto today, so maybe he can get some attention from the media. Oh, wait, his first big event in a major media centre isn’t open to the press? Well done, Liberal Party. Well done.
• Travers: Harper’s changing the country more than we realize [Toronto Star]
• John Ivison: Canadians better off, even if they don’t feel it [National Post]
• Fear and loathing in Ottawa [Toronto Star]
• A tale of two Harpers, five years on [Toronto Star]
• Liberal tour: Ignatieff needs a positive message [Toronto Star]
• For Harper, no news is good news for his legacy [Globe and Mail]
• Harper at 5, no vote needed [Toronto Sun]
• Wells: Election windows in 2011: There’s only one [Macleans.ca]
• Orders of the Day – Just Visiting . . . Downtown Toronto! [CBC.ca]