Whither the federal Liberals?

What’s that old saying about a week in politics is like a……?

I am amazed at how things have changed in federal politics in Canada. I can remember just a few years ago a Liberal friend of mine talking about the next 20-30 years of Liberal hegemony. Paul Martin was going to sweep in and fix the democratic deficit, fix Equalization, fix health care ‘for a generation’, fix Canada’s reputation in the world, finally end the troubles with the Aboriginal population, address regional development and decentralize the federal government out to where the people are (remember moving the Tourism Commission and its 10 jobs to Vancouver?). Just post Stephen Harper’s victory as leader of the Reformers, this friend suggested that the centre right would split forever and the left would enfold into the Martin agenda. This guy (hope he is not reading if so I’ll buy you lunch) even had McKenna pegged for 8 years out (as Martin was getting old).

Now, fast forward to 2008. I had coffee with a guy who is an NDP supporter who tells me in his opinion after the next election, the NDP and the Greens are going to merge (as the new Green party) and sweep away the left and centre left vote – leaving the federal Liberals in a vacuum between Harpers centre right and May’s (?) centre left constituencies. He thinks the Libs are all but toast in Quebec for a generation.

So, how did we get from “the natural governing party” to a marginal throwaway – in 5-6 years?

Now, remember my forgotten phrase about a week in politics is like a…… It is possible that the Libs might resurge. It is possible that Harper might not get his majority and the Libs might make a near term comeback. Who knows?