We understand if you haven’t read the papers during the silly season. We’ll be particularly forgiving if you missed an important article in Canada’s Globe and Mail on Saturday. But don’t overlook its significance.

Canada goes to the polls in a couple of weeks, with the Globe & Mail
reporting that the local Conservatives have made a “close study of the
2004 Australian election” and imported “certain tactics from Prime
Minister John Howard’s campaign. The Australian Prime Minister
surprised many by not only winning a fourth mandate, but increasing the
number of seats for his party. Patrick Muttart, one of Mr. Harper’s
chief strategists, studied the victory closely and saw things in it
that might apply to the Tories.”

But they’ve gone one step further and got Liberal boss Brian Loughnane involved:

The result was the informal participation of Mr. Howard’s
federal party director, Brian Loughnane, in the Conservative campaign.
While not a main player, insiders say Mr. Loughnane speaks regularly to
campaign officials about strategy.

The Tories have also leaned on the Australians for help on how to
attract swing voters, a group that Mr. Loughnane and Mr. Howard have
had some success in winning over in the past.

Loughnane and the Fed Sec are playing politics in Canada in a year when
the Liberals face three uphill state election battles in South
Australia, Tasmania and Victoria? Have they written them off already?

South Australians go to the polls on March 7 – just nine weeks time.
And while a Tasmanian election isn’t due until September, the Hobart
Mercury contained delicious details of speculation about an early election on the weekend.

The Liberals are getting a very cool reception from voters in both
states – so cool, in fact, that winter in Canada must seem quite cosy.