From the Jumping The Gun Dept.:
Yesterday, I posted at andrewcoyne.com that "of course, [if the Conservatives win] the Globe et al will attribute the win entirely to "incumbent fatigue" and outrage over the sponorship scandal (see Andrew Coyne's latest column), and argue he has no mandate whatsoever to change anything." As a prediction, this falls somewhere in the "sun will come up tomorrow" category, without the pesky wait for the following morning.
An anonymous poster chimed in 20 minutes later putting the over/under for this argument at 2 minutes after they call it for the CPC; and today, poster htl notes that Rick Salutin in today's Globe has beat the rush by eleven days.
"Mr. Harper, the right ideologue, was forced to take adulterated positions. He will not be able to claim a mandate for his real preferences, of the sort belonging to Mike Harris or Ralph Klein. It will be clear the country wanted a Liberal government not run by Liberals. That may not stop him from acting ideologically, but undermines the legitimacy of doing so. His fervent pro-U.S. bent, for instance, is clearly not shared by the country."
This argument is mostly sound. Harper did adulterate his previous positions, to present a broader appeal. If he acts on ideology that was not articulated during the campaign, it smacks of illegitimacy.
However, the notion that "the country wanted a Liberal government not run by the Liberals" is as absurd as it is unverifiable, and it infantilizes the 30-odd percent of Canadians who vote Conservative. Harper would have a mandate to enact every last policy in the Conservative Party platform if he so chooses, and in fact, it would demean the democratic will of Canadians not to try. This would include tax cuts, increasing military funding, and terminating the noxious idea of a nationalized daycare system.
Or to put it another way, if voting out the Liberals would not constitute the rejection of Liberal government, what exactly would?