Following up on the release of a new book called The Big Shift by John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker, Gerry Nicholls is in The Hill Times this morning to boil it down for us:
Harper's majority victory in 2011 was no fluke.
Rather, the Conservative Party won because its emphasis on low taxes, balanced budgets, law and order, and a strong military, resonated not only with voters in Western and rural Canada, but also with Ontario's suburbanites.
This is the big shift: voters in suburban Ontario now share many of the conservative values of their rural and Western compatriots.
The Conservatives went into the last election with not just the usual incumbent advantage but with the benefit of unprecedented use of taxpayer resources for self-promotion and fundraising. There was also the overwhelming endorsement of the corporate media which had previously done an excellent job of reinforcing CPC narratives at crucial points — remember the coalition of socialists and separatists? And with all of that, the Conservatives still couldn't manage 40% of the vote.
Getting complete control of the agenda with that kind of support certainly is a fluke — it's a quirk of a badly broken electoral system. Being able to ignore all of that and spin the Conservative victory as representing some fundamental shift in Canadian values demonstrates a remarkable ability on the part of the spinners to see the world the way they'd like it to be.