Monday, March 05, 2007

Want an election? Me? You're crazy!

Put another nail in the coffin for this parliament. The Conservatives are quickly and quietly putting the pieces in place for the election Steve Harper still continues to insist he totally doesn't want for a few more years yet.

On Friday, the Conservatives decided to cancel their national policy convention, which was scheduled for November in Winnipeg. If I can digress for a moment…November in Winnipeg, December in Montreal, do all political parties hate their members? Can we all get on board with bringing the Turks and Caicos into Canada? Now that's a winter convention location I could get behind.

Anyway, the convention was postponed until fall 2008 because of the imminent possibility of an election. Also, attending both the CPC campaign college this month and the convention could have put people over the legal donation limit, and I guess they've decided to start following that law for a change.

More interesting to note though is the recent change in messaging from the Con spinners. It was typified by Jim Prentice on CTV's Question Period over the weekend. Rather than the usual line of we don't want an election, we're going to govern until 2010 or whenever their fixed election date is, here's what Prentice had to say:

Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice refused Sunday to dampen election speculation, repeatedly coming back to the immediate parliamentary calendar when asked about his party's rising stock.

"I see a very busy month ahead," Prentice said when asked whether rising polling nu
mbers for the Tories suggest to him a majority mandate is within sight.

"I see the budget coming later in the month. (Environment Minister) John Baird has spoken about his plans relative to the environment in the month ahead. So it's going to be a month that Canadians will be able to take stock of how this government is moving forward in a very activist way."

Your key phrase there is "taking stock." As in hey, look at all the great stuff we've done, don't we deserve to be re-elected, maybe with a majority, please? (Unless he was pleading for Stock Day to cross the floor…take Stock, please!) A subtle change perhaps, but I think in conjunction with Prentice's refusal to offer the usual "we don't want an election" platitude a telling one.

So, yet another piece of evidence Harper will be engineering his own defeat and triggering an election sooner, rather that later. I'm betting this spring. No doubt he's at home now practicing his totally surprised, didn't want this election, it's all the Liberal's fault face.

Really, though, particularly in minorities, all the time all parties spend to try to not "get blamed" for precipitating an election is rather lame. A few days in, most people could care less who started it. They just want to finish it.

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bigcitylib said...

Tell that to David Peterson.

if I were the Liberals my first attack ad would show Harper making that promise.

Gayle said...

I wonder who will be the first to complain about Harper's "flip-flop". He may be sorry he introduced that descriptor into current political commentary...

Joe Calgary said...

BCer' I have to agree, it's pretty hard not to see them going for the gold.

Course, the Liberals could help rush in the fixed election dates and that would put paid to that wouldn't it.

bigcitylib, if you were the Liberals, and they decided to do what you want, they'd have to live with a litany of broken promises that looks like an unravelled roll of TP...

Hell, the Tories could run a different ad, every day for 30 days, containing a different Federal Liberal promise that was broken.

So please, bring on the attack ad...

If I was a Senior Liberal right now, I'd be more concerned about the AG and her soon to be found new access to audit the $10 Billion in Trust funds set up by the Liberals over 13 years.

Given the number of insiders who quite obviously got a little use to being in power, April 1st should be an interesting day.

I hear the shredders already.

Rotterdam said...

I think Harper should do what Chretien would do, in Chantal Hebert words, go for the kill.

Gayle said...

I am curious about how they are going to engineer their own defeat. He is going to have to do something pretty outrageous in order to get the opposition to defeat him, and then he will have to defend that move during the campaign.

I suppose it is true that some people will not care one way or another, but most people are pretty tired of going to the polls, along with spending 250 million dollars per/election. If the end result is the same - conservative minority - then people are going to be more than tired, they are going to be mad at such a collossal waste of taxpayers' money.

Not to mention the fact that I think it is pretty risky calling an election now, when most polls still place the conservatives in a minority, though they clearly have momentum.

Joe Calgary said...

You forget, Dion, by supporting the Kyoto protocol through the form of a bill, has positioned himself to be nailed square between the eyes, because in order to meet the bill's demand, Harper has to spend money.

So Harper loads the budget with a bunch of Green initiatives, tells teh Canadian people he can't do anymore because it will destroy jobs, and puts just enough in the money bill to force the opposition to have no choice to to vote it down.

Boom, we have an election, and Harper gets to blame it all on the Liberals.

On top of that, Dion has to wear it... Harper tried to do something, and Dion wouldn't let him, "Lets take it to the people" Harper will cry.

Gayle said...

It still depends on how Harper does it - so not sure that is in the bag for him. It is a risk - and I for one am not sure it is one he will take. If it backfires, he will lose and will never see 24 Sussex again.

Jeff said...

BCL, in a majority situation I think it's different. I think JC would have gotten smacked in 00 were the right not still divided and were he not lucky enough to be running against Stock Day. Minorities, they're not expected to last.

the Liberals could help rush in the fixed election dates and that would put paid to that wouldn't it

Hasn't that legislation passed already Joe?

they'd have to live with a litany of broken promises that looks

There is plenty of that to go around, which makes any high-horsing about flip-floppery somewhat silly. Although, as a Liberal, I'm behoved to say a)At the rate Steve is breaking them he's going to pack 13 years of Liberal breaks into 2.5, and b) You're in government now, it's your turn to be accountable. That's how it works.

Gayle, the possibilities are manifold, but I have no doubt Steve will have a good story. I don't necessarily think the reason for going will be much of a boost for him, but I don't think it will be a drag either. Campaigns are long, few people remember how they start.

Gayle said...

Jeff - I hear you, but I keep thinking at some point people are going to snap. Do you know anyone (besides a conservative or a member of the media) who wants an election? People are tired of elections, and I am not so sure the party who causes it will not have to pay for that. Especially, as I said, since right now I am not sure much would change in the House.

Dr. Tux said...

Joe Calgary,

Are you implying, by 'taking it to the people,' that we should have a referrendum on Kyoto?

Then by all means, bring it on!

paulsstuff said...

Intersesting. Not one mention of the Liberal's calling an unneccesary election in 1997, 2000, and 2004 because the polls favored them. Even sadder the only election they did not want was the 2006 election.

Hell, Martin even went on national television begging to keep his job and Lib's in power.

But wait. Harper is screwed. Dion's brilliant move in getting Khan to defect took away his power to time the election. Maybe that wasn't so brilliant after all.

Gayle said...

paulsstuff - the liberals never promised NOT to call an election during those times. Also, you are talking about 3 elections in 7 years, where here we are talking about 3 elections in 3 years. Finally, while I would not like it, I can certainly understand why Harper might want an election now if the chances of a majority were great, but they are not. It is one thing to have an early election to go from a minority to a majority; it is quite another to have an early election to go from a minority to a minority. His polls are good - but they are not that good, and there is no certainty or even liklihood that he will get a majority at this point. I suppose things may change after the budget though.

That said, I agree with you on the early election call in 2000, but the one in 2004 was 4 years later and called after a new liberal leader was selected, so it made sense.

paulsstuff said...

Thanks for proving my point Gayle. 3 elections in 7 years, WITH majority governments. Whats the time frame for calling an election with a majority government. All elections were called for nothing other than oppurtunism by the Liberal's.

As for 3 elections in 3 years, Martin had no need to call the 2004 election and you know it. He was trying to beat the upcoming tempest storm of the Gomery inquiry, hoping to land another majority government before the shit hit the fan so to speak.

And the 2006 election was triggered by all 3 opposition parties in relation to adscam. Any party found to have done what the Liberal's did should be required to face the electorate.
As for a possible upcoming election, most minority governments lasts about 18 months. This election would be a little earlier than that but nothing extreme.

Let's wait and see how the budget vote goes.