But it turns out that while the legions of Harper opponents were waiting for the hard-right social agenda to be firmly planted in Ottawa, the Conservatives are actually exporting those policies.
The least known factor on the 2012 political watch list is also the one with the most potential to alter the Canadian landscape.
The choice Liberals make at their Ottawa convention will go a very long way in determining whether this party can reinvent itself or whether it withers and dies after 2015.
But for a party on life support, is Sheila Copps, a lightning rod for controversy, a woman who has roller-derby-style politics in her DNA, a figure as polarizing as any in an often polarized party, really the party president to dig Liberals out of their hole?
If you can’t win it, try to steal it by spreading lies, sowing confusion, destabilizing the rightful winner and wallowing in the slime.
The NDP leadership campaign is so far not promising to freshen up Canada’s progressive discourse, but it could be the best venue to measure the chilling effect of the bare-knuckled Conservative approach to politics on the country’s political conversation.
To hear the noise from the Conservative side of the House of Commons, one would think that the Halifax NDP MP and her colleague from Nickel Belt, Claude Gravelle, were treasonous subversives who should be drawn and quartered at dawn.
These will be tumultuous times because it is not only austerity that is driving this government in its war with labour. It is being driven by ideology and plain old politics.
Michael Ferguson has toiled diligently in the service of the New Brunswick government and is now on the brink of becoming Canada’s new auditor general. But he should never get the job.
The government’s penchant for using its reinforced Parliamentary arsenal to curtail debate has been par for the course for a governing party that routinely closed down Parliament in the face of political adversity in its minority days.
This year has been remarkable for the number of federal, provincial and territorial elections, but it will also be recorded as the year of the status quo.
It’s the opposition parties’ turn to see their already shortened Parliamentary wings clipped by Harper’s majority.
Among the prospective candidates, none worked more closely with Layton than Topp. He was at the late leader’s side until the very end.
So it is hard to imagine the federal NDP heading into its second consecutive leadership race without a serious female leadership candidate; not one freighted with symbolism, but one who carries a realistic chance to win.
It won't serve him well as Treasury Board president. In that pivotal capacity, he will be in charge of tightening the belt of the federal government, and doing so under the wary surveillance of a suspicious chattering class.
Quebec is re-engaging on the national scene on terms that closely mirror the constitutional accord whose failure sparked its two-decade estrangement.
Under the Constitution, the power to initiate a discussion to reform Canada's parliamentary institutions does not rest exclusively with the federal government.
There's an emerging narrative designed to place the Parliamentary media squarely in the Conservative crosshairs recently vacated by Michael Ignatieff's Liberals.
It's a mood enhanced by the fact that for the first time in two decades, the priority of the vast majority of Quebec's MPs is not to demonstrate that Canada is a failed federation.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, that starts with preserving part of the Bloc Québécois' legacy in federal politics.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, pictured on Sept. 17, mingling with the crowd on Parliament Hill after addressed a joint session of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pictured on Sept. 17, 2014, waiting on Parliament Hill for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to arrive.
Conservative MP Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs and consular affairs.
Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon, who represents Mississauga East-Cooksville, Ont., pictured on the Hill.
Conservative MP Ted Opitz, who represents Etobicoke Centre, Ont.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko walking down the red carpet.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, standing by as Mr. Poroshenko is honoured with a 21-gun salute.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reviews the military guard.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reviewing the military guard on Parliament Hill shortly after arriving on Sept. 17, 2014.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reviewing the military guard before going inside to address the joint Parliament in the House of Commons.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signs the House and Senate visitors' book while House Sgt.-At-Arms Kevin Vickers, Acting House Clerk Marc Bosc, House Speaker Andrew Scheer, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella stand by and watch.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Stephen Harper shake hands in the Commons Rotunda.
Supporters of Ukraine outside on the front steps of Parliament Hill, pictured Sept. 17, 2014.
A woman, wearing sunflowers in her hair, stands on Parliament Hill holding a sign that reads, 'Democracy for Ukraine.'
A young woman wearing the very colourful Ukrainian traditional dress.
Conservative Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Employment Minister Jason Kenney, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, pictured on Sept. 17 on Parliament Hill.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shakes a little girl's hand after she gave him flowers.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to the crowd of supporters on Parliament Hill after addressing a joint session of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, surrounded by his security detail, steps down to join the front steps to get closer to the supporters on Parliament Hill.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the crowd of well-wishers and supporters.