"If he (Harper) takes the party to minority twice, there are going to be questions raised (about his leadership)," says John Wright, senior vice-president of the Ipsos Reid polling firm. Wright adds that a minority government is a very real possibility given that most Canadians don't really know Harper and, worse yet, don't completely trust him.
Wright says if the Conservatives win a status quo minority, "you got to think the party itself would be looking and thinking about getting another leader."
The next few weeks are the moment of truth on a possible trip to the polls by Canadians before summer. The Conservatives and their opponents have been primed for a possible quick election call, but if it doesn't happen soon, the likelihood is that Harper has decided to wait until the fall or possibly next spring.
And so arise the usual names:
Peter MacKay, because his superficial charm and stunning incompetence are the definition of the media's idea of an ideal Tory leader.
Jim Flaherty, because the media would love nothing more than to haul out all his supposed sins from the Mike Harris years.
Jim Prentice, because he's got the Red Toryism without the fecklessness of Joe Clark.
Maxime Bernier, because he's from Quebec, and can thus restore the unconstitutional convention that the prime minister must come from there.
Jason Kenney, because he's supposedly got an even scarier hidden agenda than the current leader.
And of course, John Baird, of whom it is diplomatically said that "it's unclear if he would want to be put under the spotlight of a leadership bid."
So there you have it, folks. Even though Lester Pearson handled two minority governments without a serious revolt and Mackenzie King handled even worse, Stephen Harper supposedly cannot survive a second minority government.
Of course, how the Liberals are expected to win one with Quebec and the West out of the picture, we are not supposed to ask.