Ignatieff has his counter-ad, now:
Does it remind you of this?
Curious to know whether it’ll work.
We’ll see, I suppose.
This is interesting:
Support for Stephen Harper’s Tories is up slightly from the survey ending the day before, going from 38.4 per cent to 39.1 per cent of committed voters.
The big change however is support shifting from the NDP to the Liberals. Support for Michael Ignatieff’s team jumped from 28.7 per cent to 32.7 per cent, while NDP support dropped to 15.9 per cent from 19.6 per cent.
“The nightly tracking has identified the first possible shift of the campaign,” pollster Nik Nanos said.
And the plot has officially thickened.
Also, I don’t think we’re getting our Harper/Ignatieff cage match. Harper’s people offered either/or — either a full slate debate or a Harper/Ignatieff throwdown (or a mix — first half all four, second half head-to-head) — whereas Ignatieff’s people wanted both/and — i.e., as many debates as possible.
Pity. I’d've liked it.
But the frontrunner never offers the trailer more chances to punch him than he has to, and Harper — Liberal consolidation notwithstanding — remains the frontrunner.
Mid-morning update: Go to the actual Nanos poll.
Ontario numbers: CPC 47.5%, Libs 32.2%, NDP 16.3%.
Okay, less worried — Ontario is what counts.
It’s actually kind of awesome.
Harper’s only up by ten.
Needs at least a twelve-point win.
This one may be slipping away…
[Well, maybe not -- it says the Tories have a ten-point lead in Ontario, which they won by five points last time. Will an extra margin in seat-rich Ontario be enough?]
Others disagree — they point out, rightly, that her party has never won a seat.
I know the argument — if we let the Greens in, we’ll have to let every fringe party in. And the debates are fractured enough already.
But, you know, the Greens got 7.6% of the national popular vote. And they would have a seat in Parliament, if May weren’t stubborn enough to keep on trying to knock off Tory cabinet ministers.
On the other hand, Gerry Nichols does have a point with this: “If May is allowed in debate change the format. Last time was like watching a pack of dogs trying to take down a bear.“
But whatever — when you’re king of the hill, people will always try to knock you off. Still say Harper should suggest that May be let in. (He probably won’t; she’s been really nasty to him, and he’s vindictive.)
Alan is not impressed — he wants more conflict and vitriol.
Know who this helps? Stephen Harper.
Harper wants a calm, steady campaign:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign, after just four days, has become defined by a clear tactical strategy — avoid risk, limit exposure to voters who are opponents and control the message.
The Conservative leader’s national tour so far has adopted the traditional approach of a front-running candidate who has a strong lead in the polls.
Why is he doing that? This:
In rhetoric delivered to inspire their supporters and win over voters, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton have both painted Stephen Harper as their prime political target.
But their words and their actions seem to tell a different story.
In the first three days of the 2011 campaign, the Liberal Leader has taken his plane to ridings that are held by New Democrats.
And on Tuesday, Mr. Layton will repay the favour, heading to Brant and Kitchener, Ont., where the Liberals have always enjoyed good support even if they were not victorious on election night in 2008.
So Prime Minister Harper — it’s been noted that his staff are tagging him as such, which departs somewhat from the practice of elections past — floats lazily above it all, talks calmly, and warns against reckless policies of his opponents.
She is in shock.
Well, this is not surprising — her party doesn’t have any seats. What’s more, May keeps on trying to knock off Tory cabinet ministers. Maybe she’ll succeed this time, but she could’ve been in Parliament last time out if she hadn’t tried to take on Peter MacKay.
Here’s a thought: it might be worth it for the PM to make it known that he wouldn’t mind her being in the debate — she’s always been nasty to him, so he’d look more statesman-like, and it’d help keep the vote split on the left.
Just a thought.
On the other hand, the dull, calm campaign with the “last reasonable man” voice has worked so far, so what the heck.
Steady as she goes, Stephen!
Update: Layton, Ignatieff say okay to May; Harper’s people? — Not so much.
Okay, so I’m pretty sure that Harper’s going to win a plurality in this election — I’m on record predicting a majority.
That said, he’s demonstrated a certain … talent … for winning less than he should, given the campaigns he runs.
So my early prediction for the majority-loser is this:
A maniacal laugh from Harper on e-day eve knocks the Tories down to 153 seats from a projected 160.
What say you, dear readers?
Well, where are we at, after the first weekend on the trail?
Stephen Harper was in Brampton, warning against the coalition/accord/any government but his.
I was in Eglinton-Lawrence, checking out the scene and volunteering for the CPC candidate.
The Tory message is, shall we say, unambiguous:
It’s blue or the deluge, people.
What is the vox populi thus far?
Well, um, the coalition message seems to be taking:
Leger Marketing surveyed 1,119 Canadians Saturday and Sunday and asked, among other things, if they believe Ignatieff when he says he’s “ruling out a coaliton.” Only 17% of those surveyed were prepared to take him at his word.
And even among those who identified themselves as Liberal voters, 35% do not believe their leader’s claim while just 32% do believe him. Nearly half of all NDP supporters, two-thirds of BQ supporters and 86% of Tory supporters aren’t buying what Iggy’s selling when it comes to the coalition.
But then, that doesn’t affect that many votes.
And it might be a moot point:
Despite a weekend of being hammered for their alleged contempt of Parliament, the Conservatives boast the support of 41 per cent of decided voters — 17 points ahead of the Liberals, who are at 24 per cent. The NDP is at 19 per cent, and the Bloc 10 per cent.
The Forum Research poll also breaks it down by seat count, suggesting that if the election were held today, the Tories would surge from 143 seats to 162 seats, the Liberals would drop 17 seats to 61, the Bloc would rise from 44 to 51, and the NDP would be whittled from 36 seats to 34. The poll, conducted over the weekend via telephone with a random sample of 2,095 voters, is within the range of approximately plus or minus 10 seats for each party.
Move those polls a little more, and maybe Chantal Hebert’s vision of Leader of Her Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition Gilles Duceppe takes a step closer to reality…
Anyway. The Liberals had a 40-28 lead on the Tories on December 5, 2005, so we know how campaigns can move numbers.
This is just a baseline — Harper is starting the campaign in majority territory.
There’s a great big point being missed by all the noise about coalitions — the point isn’t whether coalitions are legitimate. They are. The point is, who will be governing Canada in the 41st Parliament of Canada?
John Geddes ventures into the scenarios, more or less accurately.
Andrew Coyne mentions the traditional convention that the incumbent PM has the right to meet Parliament.
In fact, as a scholarly friend reminded me, it is the party in power at the time the election was called who has that right. The presumption is that it enjoys the confidence of the House until the House votes otherwise. Of course, in most cases the incumbent party, having suffered defeat at the polls and knowing defeat is certain in the House, does not attempt to hold onto power. But not always.
As I should have remembered, an important exception was the trigger event for the King-Byng affair. Defeated in the election of 1925 by Arthur Meighen’s Conservatives — with 101 seats to Meighen’s 116 — Mackenzie King nevertheless insisted on the right to form a government, hoping to persuade the 28 Progressive MPs to support him. A reluctant Lord Byng agreed, on condition that he would then call upon Meighen if King were ever defeated in the House.
When that moment arrived, however, King nevertheless demanded Byng dissolve the House and call new elections. Byng refused, citing their agreement, and asked Meighen to form a government instead. King seized on the supposed “interference” by a foreign potentate as an issue which he used to great effect in the next campaign.
He then figures out what has been blindingly obvious to me since December 2008 — Harper’s point isn’t actually about coalitions — it’s about reminding centre-right voters that the only way to be sure of a Prime Minister Harper is to give him a legislative majority:
CODA: The problem facing Harper until now has been this: so long as the choice appeared to be between a Conservative majority and a Conservative minority, a certain number of centre-right voters preferred the latter. That’s one reason he’s been unable to get above 40% in the polls.
But the election presents an opportunity to recast that choice, since it presumably removes the option of a Conservative minority: such a government would almost certainly be defeated at the first opportunity. So now Harper can present the choice as one between a Conservative majority and — on present standings — a Liberal minority, heavily dependent on the NDP and the Bloc.
That sort of government might sound perfectly fine to a lot of voters, but not to the ones he needs: centre-right, Lib-Con switchers. The ones who until now have been opting for a Conservative minority. He’s got to impress upon them that that’s no longer an option.
That’s the point.
It doesn’t matter what name you give it — “coalition”, “accord”, “pact”, “minority”.
I’m reminded of The War with Mr. Wizzle, where Bruno and Boots constantly recast their organization, so as to get around the restrictions put in place by their headmaster (the Fish). Whatever you re-name the Committee, its function is the same.
This is what people keep on missing, either through sloppy thinking or deliberate obfuscation.
Harper is shading and twisting things, sure. But he isn’t obliged to be the other parties’ lawyer, and it’s pretty darned clear from his actions from 1997 to 2011 that he has a firm grip on what can be done under our Westminster-style system — there’s a lot of poker-playing in minority parliaments. (Or, to paraphrase the fictional version of James Baker III in the HBO film “Recount“, “this is a street-fight for the prime ministership of Canada”.) [Re the 39th Parliament, incidentally, here's why Paul Martin chose not to meet parliament and resigned: the Bloc was vowing to defeat him. (Yes, Gilles Duceppe installed Harper as PM. Ironies of history...)]
It’s also clear that Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe understand well what’s going on.
Based on their actions since 2007, however, I’m not sure that the Liberal leadership has a similar understanding. With one exception: Bob Rae.
Every time Rae has pushed a course of action, I’ve thought, “Yes, that’s what I would have done in that situation.” Rae knows minority parliaments from his experiences in 1979 in Ottawa, 1985-87 in Ontario, and from 2006 to the present again in Ottawa.
Glad he isn’t in chart of Liberal strategy — I wouldn’t like to face him in a minority parliament.
Hope that Harper wins his majority this time — I don’t want to find out.
Again, if the opposition believes its own rhetoric about Harper — or is trapped into behaving as though they do — it’s very difficult to see them letting a Throne Speech pass from his government.
That’s why Harper is gunning for a majority — it’s the only way for him to be sure to save himself.