His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement.
Hopefully this is a case where the most obvious interpretation is correct: senior Harper Conservatives expect to lose the next election, and are distancing themselves from the defeat in advance. Of course, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Liberals and NDP to ruin their own chances.