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Opinion

Dinner is ready, but the guest list isn’t finalized

By Susan Riley      

But the present can be the worst predictor of the future. Politics is full of shocking reversals, unforeseen calamities and personal revelations straight out of the afternoon soaps.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured in this file photo on the Hill, is at the mid-point of his mandate, and retains a comfortable edge in the polls, but the present can be the worst predictor of the future, writes Susan Riley. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
GATINEAU, QUE.—At the mid-point of his mandate, Justin Trudeau must be a happy prime minister. He retains a comfortable edge in the polls, he has survived many mostly self-inflicted errors, and, there are no obvious giant killers on the parliamentary horizon. And he keeps winning hearts (if not votes) one selfie at a time.
But the present can be the worst predictor of the future. Politics is full of shocking reversals, unforeseen calamities and personal revelations straight out of the afternoon soaps. In recent years, for instance, death has claimed at least four larger-than-life political players: Jack Layton, Jim Flaherty, Jim Prentice and Jean Lapierre. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, once the saviour of his party, has become a ghost. Other one-time fixtures on the nightly news—John Baird, Jean Charest, Peter MacKay, Christy Clark and Brad Wall, to name a few—have retreated to private life and more profitable pursuits.

In their place, we have relative unknowns. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, until he defines himself more emphatically, seems an odd amalgam of Stephen Harper and Howdy Doody. He spouts Conservative gospel, issues scathing and typically over-the-top criticisms of government, but with almost fawn-like shyness. Not his fault, but the dimples are disarming.

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