The streak of fortune continues.
One of the unwritten stories about Stephen Harper is how the fates continually smile on him. Few Canadian politicians have ever been as fortunate.
The latest break came last week. Just when it appeared the Conservatives were about to lose a huge swath of supportive media in a newspaper sell-off, a darkhorse bidder saved the day.
Liberally-inclined Torstar appeared to be the favourite to win the National Post and the other Canwest papers, all of them in the conservative philosophical corner. The thought of it had the Harper Conservatives climbing the walls. The country’s media landscape was about to change.
But a surprise bid from by a group led by National Post chairman Paul Godfrey saved the day.
Just how sensitive the Conservatives are to media has been demonstrated in their attacks on the CBC for using a pollster, Frank Graves, who says the Liberals should employ a culture war strategy against Harper. What the feverish Tory reaction should tell the Liberals is that such a strategy is a good one.
The break on the newspaper sale followed a highly fortunate turn in January, when just as momentum for a national day of protest against his prorogation of Parliament was building, the Haitian calamity struck. It wiped out all other news and gave Harper a chance to change the dial, which he did effectively with an impressive Haitian relief effort. The prorogue protest went ahead but was half the size it would have been.
In years previous, the wheel of fortune seemed to always spin his way as well. During the coalition crisis he was at death’s doorstep when the opposition parties blew the deal by bringing Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe into a press conference. Then the Governor General saved Harper’s bacon by granting his wish to shut down Parliament, thereby avoiding a confidence vote.
He received a remarkable break in the 2006 election, which brought him to power. Midway through it, the RCMP announced an investigation into the Liberals, which turned momentum in Harper’s favour. Before that, during his opposition days, Harper got the break of a lifetime when the sponsorship scandal exploded, sending the Liberals plummeting in the polls.
He got good breaks in both his Canadian Alliance and Conservative leadership campaigns when no big-name opponents came forward to challenge for the titles. He’s had great fortune as well in drawing weak opposition leaders thus far.
It’s amazing. For other politicians luck usually runs out. For Stephen Harper, it just keeps on coming.
Lawrence Martin is a journalist and author of 10 books who writes about national affairs from Ottawa.