The more important story of the latest CROP poll is not a still fragile Liberal revival but rather a potentially irreversible slump in PQ fortunes.
For a federal finance minister to drop off the Parliamentary radar for a full month is rare. When that month happens to immediately follow the presentation of the budget, it is unheard of.
But that does not mean the other parties can or will give up without a fight. The Liberals absolutely need a win in Labrador on May 13, but Stephen Harper could use a victory and Thomas Mulcair—whose party has never run better than a distant third in the riding—needs to fight the perception that the NDP is spinning its wheels under his leadership.
Expect that fight to get underway just as soon as the new federal Liberal leader is in place later this month, and don’t expect either party to take prisoners.
Since he has gained control of both Houses of Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper no longer bothers to pretend that the environment in general and climate change in particular is a major preoccupation, let alone a priority of his government.
The fact is that the pro-Trudeau trend is at least as solid among the Liberal base as it is with the fans who have flocked to the party as part of the leadership campaign.
Indeed, as NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair casts himself as a contender for the job of prime minister, he has a duty to give voters fair warning of his position on such fundamental issues.
But in the real world of 2013 Canadian politics, implementing the expert panel’s prescriptions will almost certainly lead to a collision between Quebec and Stephen Harper’s government.
Liberal MP Denis Coderre is not volunteering for the task.
Upon his resignation as premier, he could have bolted the door shut to a federal leadership run instead of courting inevitable speculation as to a future on Parliament Hill.
But if Justin Trudeau is to convince Canadians that he is the agent of a belated Liberal rebranding, it might help if he did.
But Stephen Harper’s strategists would not be experts at retail politics if they had not spotted at least two of their vulnerabilities to a Trudeau-led Liberal party.
In the year and a half since they secured a federal majority, the federal Conservatives’ success has translated into more provincial resistance than acquiescence.
If the premier aborts next month’s campaign take-off, the window for an election could be closed for at least a year.
In politics, few developments have more potential to reawaken the independent streak of a government MP than being repeatedly left out of a Cabinet shuffle.