Tuesday, April 12, 2005

June it will be

If a few more polls continue to show the Liberals at historic lows, Harper will have no choice but to roll the dice. The stars seem aligned for a late June election, the so-called "irresistible scenario" for Stephen Harper according to the Star. It nicely mirrors last year's summer outing to the polls, with a heavier emphasis on calls that it is time for a change. Ironically, I watched the 2004 results come in during my first few days on this side of the Atlantic and it appears that my last few days will see me following the new results for 2005.

For now, the only caveat is, of course, the idea that Canadians seem to want to wait until Gomery's report before heading to the polls. So Harper responds immediately by lowering this bar and laying the groundwork for his forthcoming justification:
"Justice Gomery has to make decisions about potential prosecutions, about criminality. Frankly, the standards of the electorate are a lot higher than that," he said at a gathering of real estate executives in Ottawa.

Smart politics, especially canny in continuing to lash out at the "separatists" as he does so. If Gomery finishes with the witnesses by late May, as the Toronto Star article above suggests, that will be the point to declare no confidence. "The Canadian people have heard the evidence of Liberal corruption in full, and they can draw the conclusions for themselves," Harper might say. "This Liberal party does not deserve 3 more minutes, let alone 3 more years in control of taxpayer dollars." Critically, so long as the Gomery inquiry is not shut down if an election gets called, there really shouldn't be any backlash. The NDP's numbers will help the electoral cause, since they'll be spinning the media that the time has come as well.

Too much can happen over the summer for the opposition to chance it. A month is plenty of time to ramp up the nomination process and prepare for a summer campaign. Harper and Layton will have to strike now while the fire is hot, talk of defections and scandal are in the air, and the media continues its gleefully daily coverage of Liberal free-fall and electoral jockeying.

The big questions remains: How will the Liberal campaign strategists approach the campaign? Will Martin and Brison ever get tired of repeating that it was the Liberal party who established the Gomery Inquiry? Will they emerge with bold ideas in time? What roll will same-sex marriage play in the campaign? Can the NDP sustain and build momentum? Can the Tories find any rainmakers to win a precious few seats in Quebec?

Time will tell, but the race is almost certainly on now.


Blogger Jason Cherniak said...

As I asked Sharma, what makes you think Parliament will still be sitting in May? I expect the Libs to proruge first chance they get.

9:01 PM  

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