No one columnist exemplifies that sane side of the conservatism more so than Jeffery Simpson. He is the main stream establishment personified. Nothing could be worse for the Conservatives than having him publish a piece that makes the opinions on Progressive Bloggers seem almost kind in comparison. Just for a taste, consider the following (MEIB):
The Harper government – that is, the Prime Minister and his entourage – tried to slip a fast one past Canadians. It announced the end of the long form in the dead of summer, on a Friday to boot, as a sop to their far-right core constituency.
They must have figured no one would be paying attention, so they could take out their dislike of Statistics Canada when no one was looking – a dislike grounded in their blinkered belief that the agency collects facts that are then used by pressure groups, often of the social activist variety, that want more and bigger government.
Canadian civic society immediately smelled a rat. At last count – the figures are provided by the redoubtable retired professor William Stanbury – more than 200 groups and institutions publicly oppose the Harper policy, while three support it.
The three are fringe, right-wing institutions: the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the National Citizens Coalition, the little organization for which Stephen Harper himself once toiled in a Calgary office of two people (himself and a secretary). There've been a few supportive, far-right media shills, of course. But that's been it. ...Canadians witnessed the disgusting spectacle of careerist ministers – Industry's Tony Clement in the lead – tap dancing to the Prime Minister's tune. Their justification for dispensing with the long form – the best chance of getting the most accurate data – was a mélange of distortions, misrepresentations and exaggerations of so gross a kind that Canadians recoiled in indignation. ...
Such are the consequences of having people in government who live in a world of political spin and who prefer ideology over data – who claim, for example, that statistics showing a decline in crime rates are not reliable because they don't fit the government's "tough on crime" agenda, or who say the situation in Afghanistan is improving despite the fact that the past two months have been the most violent since the war began.
The census debate, so provocative and so needless but for the exigencies of ideology, roused civic society as few decisions have done in recent decades. The census will lodge itself in a corner of the electorate's collective memory as a talisman for what the Harperites might do if given a freer rein and, as such, has ruined what little chance they had of achieving a majority.
Read the whole thing. He has written a few strongly worded critiques on the Conservatives recently (such as this) but not so full of disdain. This could very well be catastrophic for Harper.
Why? Because the margin by which they achieved government is so thin. It is also the way in which they reached their seat total. It was not done on the basis of attracting new voters. It was the result of getting traditional Liberal voters to stay home. I covered this topic in this series of posts after the 2008 election. If opinion leaders for the centre-right such as Simpson solidify the image of Harper has a dangerous ideologue and convinces all those stay at homes to vote this time, Mr. Angry is done.