Combined with the revelations of the Duffy trial, the calculated use of the Fair Elections Act to "unlevel" the electoral playing field, and the apparent stalling of the economy, the government has been knocked off of its campaign plan and has been constantly in reactive mode as each new external issue arises. Having said that, this is not really death by a thousand cuts. In fact, what it has turned out to be is a primer reminding Canadians of the differences between what the Harper Conservatives have promised over the years, and what they have delivered. Accountability has been replaced by ultra-secrecy; contempt of Parliament; the muzzling of dissenting voices; and the Machiavellian inner workings of the PMO. Sound economic stewardship has been exposed as a seat of the pants "laissez-faire" approach of "small ball" management. Slicing and dicing the electorate for the purposes of bribing them with their own money through boutique tax credits; partisan targeting of infrastructure funding (complete with oversized vanity cheques); and, the crassest of all, government advertising showing cheques being printed to provide "Christmas in July" right before the campaign began. Finally, after riding into town on the Reform horse of grassroots democracy, the government has systematically neutered members of its own caucus; marginalized Parliamentary committees; stuffed the Senate with party fundraisers; and been accused of suppressing voter turnout and flouting election laws.
Ironically, it has been the inordinately long campaign period which has allowed this perception to take root. Under normal conditions, we would be starting the election campaign next week. The Wright/Novak drama; the weak economic numbers; and even the current stark contrast between government talking points on immigration policy and the reality of dwindling numbers and rising barriers to welcoming refugees, may have had little traction had we still been in typical summer mode. By contrast, seeing the Prime Minister confronted day after day by pointed questions and buffeted by external events - rather than spending his August in the arctic or at Harrington Lake - has taken the wind out of the CPC campaign sails. As it turns out, the longer that Canadians have to think about the government's record, the less they seem to like it.
Instead of a month of controlled messaging, August became the "summer" of our discontent.