That Stephen Harper is the undisputed leader in Canadian politics — that he utterly dominates the landscape, in a way no one else does — is a fact. It is also a blessing and a curse for the Conservative Party of Canada.
It is a blessing in the sense that Harper, more than any other person, is responsible for all of his party’s successes. It has been a long time in the making. About a decade ago, Harper commenced working on a three-step plan to transform Canada.
First, he brought together the warring factions of the right. He convinced Reformers and Progressive Conservatives that, unless they came together as a single conservative force, the Liberals would continue to beat them.
Harper knew his principal rival was, and remains, the Grits. Over a decade, Harper has methodically deconstructed the Liberals, to the point where the once Natural Governing Party is a rump in the House of Commons.
Finally, Harper has moved his party to the centre, and shed much of the racism and extremism that once was synonymous with the Reform Party. He now has the most ethnically diverse caucus in the House of Commons, and he has purged most of the rednecked mouth-breathers who dominated his caucus. Just a few weeks ago, he mercilessly put down a social conservative attempt to reopen the abortion debate.