However, it does seem clear the party is actively trying to generate some sort of mystical aura around the person of Stephen Harper.
How else do you explain the special 2008 calendar I recently received from the party as a gift for my "loyal support"?
Now, most gift calendars from politicians feature photos of Parliament Hill, the Peace Tower or maybe some prairie wheat fields.
This calendar features almost nothing but Stephen Harper.
For January it's a photo of Stephen Harper getting off a plane; February features Harper posing next to a guy in a snowman costume; March shows off Harper in a turtleneck; in June there's a shot of him looking studious in his office, and on it goes, month after month.
In other words, for virtually every day in 2008, owners of this calendar can gaze upon a smiling, benevolent, wise-looking Harper.
Obviously, the leader gets the lion share of the focus, pretty standard stuff. However, what we are seeing from the Conservatives seems to be a blend of Harper’s own “go it alone” style and a strategic calculation that Harper is the party’s ace.
You can see the superficial logic in highlighting leadership, because it draws the comparison to the Dion, which works to the Conservatives advantage. That said, the Conservative strategy misses one key element- Canadians don’t much care for Harper. Sure, Harper outpaces Dion, but it also true that “Neither” is the preferred choice of Canadians, when polled on best leader. In other words, Conservative make an error in assuming that Harper is the difference, Harper should be the focus.
Another quote from the column, which is relevant:
”After all, in order to have a personality cult, the leader actually has to have, well, you know, a personality.”
Harper isn’t charismatic, he isn’t engaging or riveting. Harper is pretty wooden, which makes him a strange candidate for “aura”. I don’t dispute the leadership gap with Dion, but I also see no evidence whatsoever that the Conservatives can carry the day, based solely on the weight of Harper’s personality. In fact, we are now two years into Harper's reign, wherein he has already put himself at the center of almost every initiative and the Conservatives have gone nowhere. Our guy isn't as bad as their guy is hardly an impressive strategy.