Below, the party trend line since September:
People will note that the normal ebb and flow between the two principles is stunted in this instance, the Liberals unable to fully capitalize on the Conservative downward trend. I would posit, the Conservative numbers would have fallen further, if the Liberal brand was the least bit attractive- our perceived weakness an artificial barrier.
If we're paying attention to the cementing narrative of the past week, you see a tremendous opportunity for Ignatieff to reacquire some credibility, and much more importantly, for the Liberal to stay ahead of the curve and seize the storyline. It's all about notions of democracy now, within that accountability at the most basic level. This reality that now haunts Harper, the new poster child of all that is wrong with our Parliamentary democracy means a bold Liberal Party can benefit, and in so doing reshape the brand that desperately needs a moral shot in the arm.
Ignatieff has no political baggage, in the sense that he isn't part of this historical erosion in Parliament, apparently climaxing under Harper. This affords Ignatieff the chance to champion democratic reforms in a substantive way. In fact, Ignatieff can use his time abroad to highlight his disgust at how our government operates. "I came to Ottawa, and I'm amazed at the dysfunction". We need a change, we need to "recalibrate" the way our democracy works, we need a more egalitarian expression, that isn't beholden to the whims of pseudo-kings. A tricky discussion, but one that will capture the sentiment behind prorogation.
There are a host of ways to attack the institutional problems, and position the Liberals as the anti-Harper. Whether it rises to the level of constitutional consideration or not, there are levers available to present a new vision of how democracy needs to, and can work. Saying something is wrong with the Harper approach is only part of the story, to truly distinguish you have to embrace "reform".
If Liberals really want to move the numbers, and see a return to the "mirror" effect and beyond, we have to recognize that we aren't exactly a beacon of hope on the democratic front. Harper is worse, Harper has gone further, Harper has no historical peer, all valid, but we must realize that "Liberal" is saddled with institutional malaise, nobody sees it as a force for change. Canadians dislike the current situation, that's at the heart of the perceived apathy, voter drift. We want to fully capitalize, then we take this issue head on, with a new democratic presentation that speaks with a certain authenticity.