This election will be the fourth in the past seven years, with each of the previous three having produced vulnerable minority governments that were all but assured of a foreshortened lifespan. If the result on Monday produces another of the same, then this election will indeed have been a waste of time, effort and several hundred million dollars. As such, the optimal result this time around would be a stable majority government.
There are several sound reasons to recommend this, the least being that it would put a halt to the tiresome cycle of elections every two years instead of the standard four when a majority administration is in place. Minority governments are believed by many to be more open and consensual, and given to policies acceptable to a broader range of Canadians, since they have to enlist support from opposition parties to pass their measures. But they also tend to induce a hyper-partisan atmosphere in a Parliament constantly gripped by election fever, with the government under perpetual pressure to buy opposition favour with public funds in order to survive. …
In light of how this election campaign has unfolded, and what it has told us about the strengths and weaknesses of the parties and their leaders, it appears the optimal party to form a majority government is Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. During the five years they have held minority office, the Harper Conservatives have been rightly criticized for a panoply of failings, including Harper’s rigid centralization of power in the prime minister’s office, his government’s excessive obsession with law-and-order legislation and prison-building, and its insufficient concern with climate change and green energy development. However, the Conservatives have kept Canada on an even economic keel to the point where, in this post-recession world, its economic indicators are among the most positive on the planet. Furthermore, the Conservatives are the only party likely to have strong representation in all regions of the country, a highly desirable feature of a national government.
I’m feelin’ better now. And I bet the PM is, too.
Those regional numbers make me nervous, but they’ve got a big margin of error.
And so I’ll just concentrate on the top-line numbers: CPC 38, NDP 29.6, Liberals 23.3.
That’s a part of the middle of the electorate shaking its head and saying, “We were going to do WHAT now?!”
Is that enough to slide into a majority after all? Damned if I know. But I think it’s enough to keep him at 24 Sussex Drive.
Monday will be fun, though. We’re going to see some darned weird results — the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for instance, is about to be defeated in his own riding by a karate instructor whose only political experience was a run for office as a Communist in 1997.
WAKEFIELD, Que. – Mathieu Ravignat is a former communist, current karate instructor and the NDP candidate in Quebec’s Pontiac riding.
The man he’s trying to unseat is Canada’s minister of foreign affairs.
Ravignat, a social sciences researcher, was nominated two weeks ago at a low-key meeting few took note of after a better-known candidate backed out.
At about the same time, Cannon was in the Middle East conferring with representatives from the world’s most powerful countries on the prosecution of the war in Libya.
This is rather hilarious — but, you know, this is parliamentary democracy at work. Even the party titans have to win their ridings. If they can’t, well, they’re gone — unless they can persuade an underling to step aside in a safe riding. But even then, they have to win on their own — as John Tory found out.
But yes. As I said above (and below), Harper’s got himself a second wind, and the population has taken a second look, both at him and at the opposition. And so I think the PM’s got just enough left that we’re going to keep him.
That’s where the Liberals are at, now — the Star has abandoned them.
The New Democrats have been reinvigorated under the leadership of Jack Layton. After Monday, they may well challenge the Liberals as the principal national standard-bearer for the roughly two voters in three who disagree fundamentally with the course charted by the Harper Conservatives. Progressive voters should give them their support on Monday. …
Ignatieff has spent the past few days lamenting the loss of the centre ground of Canadian politics and attacking the NDP as spendthrifts and “boy scouts.” His party’s collapse in Quebec raises the question of whether it can truly be considered a national force at this point. Liberal governments built much of what is best about this country — but voters are sending a clear message that they don’t feel they owe the Liberals anything for what the party did once upon a time. Nor do they believe the party has fully purged itself of the cronyism and corruption of the past. Elections are about the future, and the Liberals have not made a persuasive case for themselves as the alternative in 2011.
Fortunately, this time there is a real choice. Voters who believe Canada should aspire to something greater than the crabbed, narrow vision offered by the Harper Conservatives should look to Jack Layton and the New Democrats on Monday.
So now that the Star has gone on to greener pastures, what’s left?
Michael Ignatieff is now cautioning against declaring the Liberals done in these three days before the May 2 vote – but some Liberals aren’t listening.
The autopsy is already under way.
What happened? How did the so-called natural ruling party wind up in third place in the homestretch?
Well, we’ll see what they save.
They may, incidentally, end up in a governing coalition — and not necessarily with the NDP. (I’d offer Ignatieff Foreign Affairs. Actually, even without a coalition, or even without a need for Liberal support, I’d still offer him the Foreign Affairs portfolio.)
I went to the PM’s rally in Brampton tonight.
He was on — gave a great new speech, actually went off-script a bit, and made a strong case for a Conservative majority.
He seems fired up now — as fired up as I’ve seen him since December 2008.
So: I’m feeling better now.
Oh, about that Layton story. I think it’s actually an irrelevancy.
Skippy takes the cynical take as to who released it. (Well, any release of it is cynical.) I agree with him on the who, but I disagree on the effect. I think it won’t make much of a difference.
So we’ve got a test — if as a result, the Liberals get back up over 20%, I’ll concede that he understands the left-leaning electorate a bit better than I do.
Which gets me to the last point I wanted to make.
The Liberals have fallen into the teens:
The Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global News shows the Conservatives under Stephen Harper have 38% support among decided voters (down 5 points). Jack Layton and the NDP would receive 33% of the vote (up 9 points), largely driven by a remarkable groundswell of support in Quebec. Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals continue to drop in popular support and would receive just 18% if the election were held tomorrow (down 3 points).
In Ontario, the Conservatives (40%) are also in first place, with the NDP in second (34%), the Liberals in third (21%) and the Green Party trailing (6%).
The Tories are hoping to pick up seats in areas around Toronto, while the NDP are poised to win more seats in the city itself, both at the expense of the floundering Liberals.
Update: Well, pre-date — afternoon stuff.
Harper’s ahead of Layton again in the Nanos leadership index — 101.3 – 91.9.
Anyway. Gave me a scare, Prime Minister, but it looks like you want to keep this job after all.
And so I think you will.
The lefties sense that they’ve got Harper on the ropes.
The middle sees that the lefties have got Harper on the ropes.
I gotta know tonight
If you’re alone tonight
Can’t stop this feeling
Can’t stop this fire
Oh, I get hysterical, hysteria
Oh can you feel it, do you believe it?
It’s such a magical mysteria
When you get that feelin’, better start believin’
‘Cuz it’s a miracle, oh say you will
Where does it take us?
MONTREAL — A Conservative party rally in Montreal turned physical early Friday when several demonstrators forced their way into the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre minutes before Stephen Harper and his entourage were scheduled to arrive.
A Montreal Gazette photographer at the scene said “people were thrown around” inside the building and there was pushing and shoving as the protesters were forced out by security.
The purpose of the demonstration remains unclear, but a statement appearing on a number of progressive sites late Thursday suggested the disturbance had been planned.
“Harper has been hiding from Montrealers during this election because he knows that we are angry! From racist immigration policies to the war in Afghanistan to inaction on pressing housing needs to his strong support for Israeli apartheid, Harper and the Conservatives are wreaking havoc,” the statement said, signed by the “Ad Hoc Harper Welcoming Committee.”
“Tomorrow, Montrealers will give him the welcome he deserves!”
No reason for having extra security at the PM’s rallies, eh?
The EKOS-iPolitics survey, which was completed Thursday evening, finds the Conservatives clinging to a narrowing five-point lead, drawing 34.5 per cent support of decided voters as the NDP presses from behind at 29.7 per cent. The Liberal freefall leaves the party with a new low of 20 per cent support. …
The poll puts the Conservatives at 38.9 per cent in Ontario, still ahead of where they finished the 2008 election. The Liberals and NDP are effectively tied, at 26.6 and 26.2 per cent respectively.
With Liberal national numbers shrinking to an all-time low, Graves said it could mean the death knell for what was once deemed Canada’s natural governing party.
“The most successful political party in the advanced western world of the last 50 years could be on a banana peel about to go into political oblivion – it’s a real possibility,” he said.
All right, Prime Minister.
You apparently are about to achieve your aim — the destruction of the Liberal Party.
Question is, can you survive it?
Perhaps I’m too quick to concede this one to the Dippers.
Today’s Nanos, where I expected the Dips to take the lead — they haven’t.
CPC 36.4, NDP 31.2, Libs 22.0.
On the other hand, that Ontario number is closing quick!
But given this and yesterday’s EKOS — I think we’ve staunched the bleeding. Won’t lose the election outright.
[A note I wrote to some of my Toronto friends.]
I want to explain to you, dear Toronto friends, the significance of the decision that Canadian voters are about to make.
Not because I’m going to change minds now. I want to lay down a marker for the future — so that you’ll remember what you’ve done, and what the consequences will be.
We are about to elect an NDP government, and put Jack Layton in 24 Sussex Drive.
Sure, Jack seems like a bang-up guy, and replacing dull Steve and Laureen at that place with Jack and Olivia sounds like fun. Harper’s been a control freak, and Layton sounds like he’ll treat Parliament a lot better and restore political decency to the capital.
But let’s get to public policy.
Do you like Porter Air, and projects like it? The island airport expansion was pushed through with the help of the then-head of the Toronto Port Authority, Lisa Raitt, who later stood for Parliament in 2008 and has since served as a cabinet minister with the Tories. It was pushed through against the bitter opposition of then-city counsellor Olivia Chow, who is now MP for Trinity-Spadina. (I’d be stunned if she doesn’t end up in the next cabinet under PM Layton.)
Chow fought Porter’s presence at the Island Airport bitterly: she took her fight to Ottawa, even after she lost the fight in Toronto, and asked for — and got — an NDP caucus boycott of Porter.
This is the sort of thing that was the subject of little gossip column jokes like this one –
Why you won’t see NDP MPs on Porter (unless they’re very, very careful)
MPs from all parties packed the Hill Times’ 20th anniversary bash held at Library and Archives Canada. One of the sponsors was Porter Airlines, which offered two free tickets in a raffle. As Transport Minister John Baird picked the winner from a pile of business cards, NDP MP Olivia Chow bolted to the other side of the room out of sight. Chow is firmly opposed to Toronto’s City Centre Airport, which is where Porter flies from. She has insisted fellow NDP MPs not use the airline even if they have meetings in downtown Toronto (the airport’s close proximity, 10 minutes to most key downtown locations after a ferry ride, can save hours of travel time and airport-limo fees). According to Porter president Robert Deluce, who was at the Hill Times bash, NDP patriarch Ed Broadbent has flown Porter. (Does Olivia know?)
But, you know, it’s no longer a joke. It’s no longer a cute story. This is your next government.
We’ll be switching from the sorts of people who — as much as you mightn’t like their style of governance — push projects and companies like Porter, to the very people who fought tooth and nail against that development and that sort of — yes, I’ll use the word — progress.
I don’t ask you to change your vote in 2011 — I think our votes are all already set.
But I ask you to remember this, for the future. You have a government right now that, whatever its flaws, encourages a forward-looking, entrepreneurial culture, and you’re going to replace it with a government that, whatever neat-sounding words they dress it up in, is going to stifle those potential developments and prevent these projects from ever getting started. The effect of their policy sensibilities is, well, stasis.
It’s the current prime minister’s fault for not making this case to you — it’s such a simple one to make. (Damn you, Mr. Harper, for not doing it!) But when you fire him and his team, and replace him with these other guys and gals, you’ll pay the price.
What’s worse is, because this is a matter of opportunity costs — of enterprises not created and services not provided — most of you won’t ever know.
But please — the next time you fly Porter, and enjoy its services, do remember this: if Jack and Olivia had their way, you’d never have gotten off the ground.
Update, 7:30 AM: False alarm! Tories still in the lead.
But read this, too.
TORONTO – When NDP Leader Jack Layton left City Hall for greener federal pastures in the spring of 2003, I bid good riddance (to bad rubbish).
I figured he couldn’t do much damage being the head of a moribund third party. I could be eating my words on Monday night.
Not that Bicycle Jack, or the Patron Saint of the Environment or Just Jack the Smog Saviour — the names I gave him depending on what cause of the day he was pushing — ever made life dull.
In June of 2000, he tried to convince councillors the city should erect “creative” emergency shelters — trailers, tents and mobile homes — to allow the homeless to live in downtown parks all summer.
Less than a year later, he did manage to persuade a majority of councillors to proceed with proposals for pre-fab housing (at $50,000 to $100,000 per home) to accommodate the squatters living in Tent City on a waterfront piece of property. Those squatters were finally evicted a few months later, much to Layton’s chagrin.
It should come as no surprise that his hypocrisy extended to his environmental crusade as well.
Despite repeatedly painting himself as a Smog Saviour, Layton was found to be one of the highest users of the city’s fleet of limos.
When I questioned Bicycle Jack about it in 2001, he told me 20% of the 541 rides he used were to “deliver stuff quickly and efficiently” to constituents and the rest were to get to the airport or to a ward meeting.
This should have been an easy opponent to beat.
But we had to be aware that he was in the game.
And so “Prime Minister Layton” is our probable future.