Prime Minister Stephen Harper is busy re-arranging his Cabinet chairs aboard the HMCS Tory, Canada's ship of state. South of the 49th parallel, American legislators are returning to Congress.
In both nations political party leaders are sharpening their focus on upcoming Federal elections. That, and the notion of fixed election dates is about where the similarities end. To digress: America's fixed election date is enshrined in the Constitution of 1776. In Canada, although the law to fix Federal election dates was adopted by Parliament in the winter of 2006, politicians on both sides of the aisle citing prorogation(s); minority governments; dysfunctional Parliaments; bad economy; good economy; (the list grows) have so far circumvented their own law, and there are every indications to conclude they'll do it again before 2011 ends.
Since Prime Minister Harper's first minority Conservative government was elected in January of 2006, Canada has been in perpetual general election mode. Down south of the border the Obama administration faces the daunting task of rebuilding its battered reputation as the race to the November 2012 Presidential election launches against an emboldened adversarial Congress. The Republicans have welcomed more than a dozen "Tea Party" supporters into the ranks as a result of the recent mid-term face-off. A "Tea Party tidal wave" as described by the movement's darling; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Over the holiday break, publishers of President George W. Bush's biography "Decision Points" confirmed the tome had sold two-million copies; a favourable comparison with Mrs. Palin's "Faith, Family, Country" which has topped 1.5 million copies. Cynics scoff that it's toss-up which is the better door-stopper. Either way, with the holidays over it's likely what's left in the bookstores will soon find the way to the remainder bins...I digress!
Quite unlike Prime Minister Harper who knows exactly who he is politically and what he wants; President Obama's problems are exacerbated as he seems to still be working through the political equation of who 'he' is? - As perhaps are the American people. His antagonists will attempt to make the most of the dilemma. In the process the Republicans and their Tea Party associates must walk a fine line and not overreach and "scare little kids and pets" - Perhaps defining a situation which on the northern side of the border may explain why Stephen Harper and the Tories have been mired in minority territory for four years.
Critics have described the legacy of President George W. Bush as a stewardship of illusions. The Edith Piaf of Presidential policy as one put it: "He regrets nothing!" - It seems also quite clear to those same analysts that Mrs. Palin is not qualified to be President of the United-States. Many believe that the talk about a potential bid for the high office was just to help "move books" when "Faith, Family, Country" hit the shelves early last fall.
Somewhat like bookends, the frame of the American Presidential race for the next 20 months seems abundantly defined. One could wish only that Canada's seemingly never ending struggle for the "hearts and minds" of the electorate was so crystal clear.