LET ME just note one reason why the Conservatives aren't dominating this election (since they have set the agenda since day 1). It does have to do, partly, with the leader. I know, I know. I just bashed people putting too much stock into the leader. But I suppose I more resist the "extremely flawed" hyperbole of Mr. Gregg. Mr. Gregg infers that people have made up their minds. I disagree. This does not affirm the possibility of people to change.
That said, I would like to argue that the reason Paul Martin is more favourable to most people is twofold. One, people are more likely to view the status quo as favourable, as long as it does not tangibly affect them. Thus, Martin is tolerated by many people, even if he is not liked.
The second reason that people like Martin is his passion. 'Let me be clear', you can't believe a word he says. And 'fundamentally', many people think he is a liar who will do anything to get elected. However, he does have a passion when he talks. It is attractive and rousing, even if you don't take a liking to the man.
Stephen Harper, conversely, is pretty plain spoken. Even in his new plain talk ads, he kind of drifts off. He says things like he is repeating them for the hundreth time. I have heard Harper speak in person. Personally, I found him to be a great speaker. If he could have that same fire all the time as when I heard him, people might take a greater interest in him.
Let me go out on a limb and say that Gilles Duceppe is so liked in Quebec - and even in the rest of Canada - precisely because he shoots straight, but is also passionate about defending Quebec's interests. And it shows. Conservatives must be crossing their fingers, hoping that their leader can display some of the inner fire during the debates. Harper doesn't have to be angry. But he needs to be passionate. He needs spirit! As Kierkegaard said:
"our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose."Thus, any sustained passion by either leader is likely to overcome any doubts that people have about their leadership.