1. A shift in opinion. Prorogation outrage is petering out, according to a new EKOS poll that shows Stephen Harper's Tories back on top.
The national survey found that for the first time in a month the Conservatives have a slim but significant two-point lead over Michael Ignatieff's Liberals.
And will there be an election this year? EKOS pollster Mr. Graves discovered that about half of the electorate - 48.6 per cent - would choose a trip to the ballot box before the end of the year, compared to 42.5 per cent who don't want one until the Prime Minister's four-year term ends in the fall of 2012.
While EKOS pollster Frank Graves says these results won't "have the Conservatives dancing in the streets" it does offer them some good news, finally.
The survey of 3,006 Canadians, conducted between Feb. 3 and 9, shows 31 per cent support for the Conservatives compared to 29 per cent for the Liberals. The NDP attracted 15.5 per cent of voter support; the Bloc has 10. 3 per and the Green Party has 11.3 per cent.
"It appears the profound and unexpected backlash from prorogation appears to have exhausted itself for the time being," Mr. Graves says.
Indeed, the Liberals were tied with the Conservatives for several weeks as the Tories saw the 10-point lead over the Grits - one they had enjoyed in the fall - evaporate as a result of Mr. Harper's decision to shut down Parliament.
"With a pretty solid performance over the past month [with the government's rapid response to the Haiti earthquake]the CPC have clearly been able to right what was beginning to look like a sinking ship," he said.
Given all that, however, Mr. Graves still says the new political landscape is one that sees the two major parties running almost neck-in-neck.
And he has found some underlying troubles for the Conservatives - only 9.3 per cent of respondents picked the Tories as their second choice compared to 16.6 per cent for the Liberals.
"This means that from their newly humble 31 point position that even in the unlikely case that they could collect 100 per cent of their current second choice vote, they would still fall short of a majority," Mr. Graves says.
However, he says the Liberals could "theoretically produce a large majority" if their first and second choice votes were combined. And he notes that theory could be put into practice if half of the respondents get their way on election timing.
Mr. Graves asked those surveyed: "If you could choose, when would you want the next federal election to be held?" And he found that 13.3 per cent want an election as soon as possible, 10.8 per cent want one sometime in the next four months while 24.2 per cent would like a vote before the end of the year.
"To put an exclamation point on that finding we note that, outside of CPC supporters, an overwhelming majority of the rest of the electorate want to see a 2010 election," he says. "My guess is that they probably won't be disappointed."
2. An outburst on air. Oh, Dimitri. There he was on national television - his voice raised, his words pointed - arguing with an elected Member of Parliament, Vancouver New Democrat Libby Davies.
Dimitri Soudas, for those who don't know him, is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman. He is a young man who is extremely loyal to his boss and to his party. He is quick, smart and aggressive; he is often effective and he can also be really nice.
But he wasn't yesterday.
He took on Ms. Davies, accusing her first in a press release of organizing a protest in which he said the doors of the building in which an event that was to be attended by the Prime Minister were chained shut. This, he said, prevented seniors, veterans and children from exiting a building.
Then he took it the airwaves after the CBC invited him onto their supper-hour politics show; he and Ms. Davies mixed it up on air.
The NDP MP denied organizing the protest. She said she was there supporting the community, which is angry about the Conservative government's decision to take its bid to shut down Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The protest forced the Prime Minister to postpone his visit to the Chinese Cultural Centre. Ms. Davies had tweeted that the protest was impressive. And that drew Mr. Soudas' ire.
Now, this isn't the first time that Mr. Soudas has found controversy.
For example, at the G8 summit in Italy last year, the Prime Minister had to apologize to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff after Mr. Soudas gave him incorrect information. Mr. Soudas apologized to his boss and to Mr. Ignatieff at the time and said he would accept whatever consequences came to him.
Now he's back at it, hurling accusations at an MP yesterday and still asking today whether an elected politician should be encouraging protests of the sort that broke out here in Vancouver.
(Photo: Protesters surround the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver yesterday ahead of the Prime Minister's visit. Chris Helgren/Reuters)