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Parliament took its summer recess last week. MPs return to their riding looking for signs of support, and indications of dissatisfaction. Political scientists proceed more formally to assess how parties are performing. How many citizens qualify as partisans of one party or another? To what extent do people identify with a party without being a member? And how do we evaluate voter intentions?
The meaning of the sudden NDP surge is this: It's a grasping for hope in a dispiriting situation in which all of the likely outcomes are bad. That grasping comes from within the majority -- from the 60 per cent or more who see Stephen Harper as a negative, anti-democratic force.
Above all, it raises the question of how to ultimately bring together this loose centre into one, uniting not only Liberals and New Democrats, but disaffected Progressive Conservatives and both federalists and soft nationalists in Quebec, perhaps leaving the Greens in the left-wing slot the NDP used to occupy.
Who's complaining about polling now? The polls have been wild and crazy, but they're revolutionizing this election. So what's the message in the madness?
First and foremost, hats off to Quebec. She just can't seem to help herself. It looks like she just might rescue Canada -- again.
Remember, last time out it was Quebec that mostly saved us from a 2008 Harper majority. And it happened poetically. Francophone artists went viral and turned the tide. Once Quebeckers realized that Harper scoffed at the arts, a worrisome flirtation was off and the Conservatives stalled at the same 10 seats they got in 2006. The rest is history.