Saturday, August 23, 2008

The election madness contagion has broken containment

If you haven't yet been infected stock your pantry and then lock the doors, draw the blinds, and hunker-down: a major election fever system is spreading throughout the land. No one is safe. At least keep your children off the streets.

At first it seemed like Stephen Harper was just stoking election speculation to distract attention from the myriad scandals hammering his government and to distract from the increasing traction the Liberal Green Shift has been getting as Stephane Dion aggressively pitches it to receptive audiences accross Canada, including a crowd of 1400 that came out for a town hall in Oakville on a summer weeknight last week.

Now though, the election hysteria machine seems to have kicked into a whole new gear. I'm spending this weekend in Guelph volunteering for our Liberal by-election candidate, Frank Valeriote, and there is certainly general election buzz in the air here. The word on the street here, and back in Ottawa, is that Harper is serious this time. Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines.

Certainly a general writ drop in the next week or two will be a major inconvenience for all the by-election campaigns of all the parties in Guelph, St. Lambert, Westmount and Don Valley West. There's the administrative issues, the financing issues, what happens to advance votes already cast, and certainly they'll have a few less e-day volunteers than they've been counting on.

The thinking is Harper wants to go before the by-elections because he knows he's going to lose in all four, and he wants to avoid those headlines. I can tell you though, if he was going to lose these ridings before, if he aborts these by-elections he'll lose these ridings by even more. People here are going to be pissed.

As we've canvassed here the reception for the Liberals and Frank has been very strong. With a strong get out the vote effort we should be in good shape. Haven't knocked on one door yet where someone has admitted they're voting Conservative. I met Gloria Kovach's former next door neighbiour last night, and she was on the fence but leaning Liberal. If she can't win over her neighbours... At a few doors we were also asked what would happen if a general is called before Sept. 8. And everyone who brought it up was very hostile to the idea, no matter how they're voting. People can tolerate a four-week campaign, make it eight or ten weeks of annoying politicians bothering them and they'll be pretty pissed. The Conservatives will face a backlash.

Myself, in short form, if we're going to have a general now, I say fine, so be it.

Would I prefer to wait to get these by-elections done? Absolutely. I think we're going to get some great results in these campaigns that will give us some great momentum going into a general.

Do I think Harper is up to something? Absolutely. He's crazy like a fox, with his chess playing and what not.

Would I prefer that we defeat him in the House of Commons, on an issue of our choosing or otherwise? You betcha.

In the end though, if he's going to dissolve he's going to dissolve, and while we should absolutely slam him for the hypocrisy of flouting his own fixed election date legislation, we shouldn't try to stop it from happening. Not that there would be anything we could do, besides going with the NDP to the GG and asking for a chance to test the house. Health Minister Jack Layton, anyone?

But seriously, an election has been inevitable for some time now, and if its going to be sooner rather than later that's how it's going to be. The timing is never going to be ideal, we don't control all the levers of timing. I don't care much how we get into the election (in the HoC or request for dissolution), the trigger is forgotten by Day Two.

While if the writ drops in a week or two I'll feel for my overworked friends in Guelph, St. Lambert and the other ridings, I won't weep. We're ready for an election. We've got the policies, we've got the team, we've got the issues and we've got the momentum.

Bring it on. We play chess too.

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Anonymous said...

Just a question:

Sensing the mood at the doors and the dynamics of today, could the conservatives return to the Commons as the 3rd party and not the opposition or governing party?

A BCer in Toronto said...

David, not a chance. I'd predict either a Conservative or a Liberal minority in a general, barring a game changer. The odds are better for the Cons at this point but if the Libs run a smart campaign, work hard and have some luck a minority is possible.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Health Minister Jack Layton, anyone?

Nah. Democratic Reform.

What? It's a more minor ministry! *g*