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[Ottawa – September 16, 2010] – Over the last two weeks, we have seen a very stable pattern with the Tories enjoying a scant but statistically significant lead. The numbers are precariously balanced for the parties such that even very modest shifts can profoundly alter the likely outcome of the next election. Perhaps the most notable feature is how elusive a single party majority (or even a stable minority) has become. Stephen Harper came to power with a minority government that the voters thought was the right antidote to the regime fatigue they felt with what had become near chronic majority governments (particularly the Liberal government). In fact, Paul Martin’s short minority government may have been an expression of a new found desire to keep the ruling party on a short tether.

Over six years of minority governments have seriously dampened our enthusiasm for minorities. Yet if we look carefully at the patterns over the past year, it is hard to imagine how any party will break the increasingly unwelcome pattern of persistent minority governments. If this new mix is intrinsically unstable, what will break pattern? Will either the Conservatives or the Liberals pull away from the pack as the voters decide to break the minority spell? Will new coalition arrangements such as those in the UK and Australia find their way into Canada? Or will minority governments become the new norm, much as stable majorities were the norm of the last century?

On a more specific note, it is curious to see that Conservative fortunes seem to have been resuscitated somewhat in Quebec with talks of a new NHL franchise. It is also interesting to note that the NDP strengthened a bit as Jack Layton spoke to his urban constituency about the gun control registry vote.

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