But strange things are happening in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's close-knit office. A senior advisor and at least one strategist are moving on, which has some Conservative observers concerned about internal morale and questioning the operation's top official.
MPs confide there's a darkening mood in the big guy himself (Quick, hide the chairs), hardly surprising given the stormy economic challenge Mr. Harper faces. One source says there was a blowup between a furious Prime Minister and key players last week (Good management technique Steve. Feeling out of one's depth are you?). And PMO chief of staff Guy Giorno is now plotting the second major internal shuffle in eight months.
First, consider that the next vote will be Mr. Harper's fourth as Conservative leader. Never before has someone gone before the electorate that many times without winning at least two majority governments and the odds that he will actually win one now seem a long shot at best. (and with Duffy in the Senate and Zaccardelli retired, there are two fewer allies to come up with a last minute surprise).
He'll be entering the fray as ruler over an ugly recession and forced by unprecedented circumstances to sacrifice his prudent manager credentials, (Someone needs to acquiant Donnie boy with Kevin Page) which had already been tarnished by recession denials during the election campaign and his government's long-range surplus forecasts just three months ago.
Mr. Harper is, after all, a lousy loser. He petulantly hinted he would reconsider his future the day after losing the 2004 election. If he sees serious doubt in being safely re-elected with a reeling economy stacked so dauntingly against the party, he might well quit early rather than fight the losing battle.