That's an easy one: As he watches the proceedings in Halifax, no one will be cheering more lustily for Jack Layton than the current resident of 24 Sussex Drive. New or not, the Prime Minister is in their corner, and vice-versa, in the lead-up to the next election.
Speaking of not new, it must have been music to Mr. Harper's ears to hear Ed Broadbent thunder, "What modern Conservatives and Liberals have done is not only to reject the political legacy of the CCF and the NDP, but they have also rejected part of the political legacy of Lester Pearson, John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau and Bob Stanfield…." And, I'll bet the Prime Minister didn't even take offense when the old social democrat war horse said, "There's been a straight line from Paul Martin to Stephen Harper, and don't let the Liberals tell you otherwise…There's a fiscal link from the Liberals of the 1990s to Mr. Harper, and anyone who thinks there isn't is off in cloud cuckoo land."
Let's face it: The stronger the Dippers and the more they eat into the Liberal vote, the greater the chances that Stephen Harper and his family will continue to enjoy their chef's fine food and that great view overlooking the Ottawa River after the next election, notwithstanding the Conservatives being supported by a mere 36 per cent or so of Canadians. Plus he'll have the power to name senators and judges and fly around the world in his own jet meeting interesting folks like Barack Obama, if not Bono.
It took numb-skulls on the centre-right three consecutive Chrétien victories to figure out that they had to unite their forces if they hoped to form government again. Now, with Michael Ignatieff hugging the centre and playing doppelgänger to Mr. Harper, it's beginning to look as though it will take dim-wits on the centre-left at least as long to figure out their path to victory. In fact, after striking out on their coalition coup - an embarrassment that you'll not hear mentioned by the speechifiers at this weekend's meeting - it might take them even longer.
Sure, Mr. Harper will not achieve a majority Conservative government; as long as the Bloc remains strong in Québec, no party will. Still, being in power atop three successive minority governments has its rewards: just ask Lester Pearson. True, Stephen Harper is no Lester Pearson. But, unless he comes up with a new game plan, it's looking less and likely that Michael Ignatieff will ever get the chance to show whether he can measure up to that standard.