There seems to be quite a lot of speculation surrounding a possible fall election. The Liberals are making contingency plans to prepare themselves for a snap election. I must confess that other than political posturing, I don’t really see a scenario where Harper follows through on the threats. As a matter of fact, Harper would be foolish to force an early election.
Every poll I have seen clearly shows that Canadians don’t want to go to the polls. This fact means that to justify an election call, the conditions would have to be exceptional and urgent. I can’t see any issue on the horizon that would meet this criteria. There is an inherent danger of electoral backlash if an election is called with marginal justifications. Harper must be sensitive to this reality, so his posturing is really more bluster than confidence.
I don’t think you can underestimate the bad optics of calling an election while your main rival is vulnerable. Without a leader, the Liberals are clearly not ready to fight an election and I think Canadians are aware of this fact. Harper would give the impression of kicking the Liberals while they were down. The lack of perceived fair fight would look opportunistic, but it could also garner much sympathy for the “underdog”. Bullying tactics don’t play well, Harper takes a great risk by politicizing the government’s business.
Do I think the Liberals should prepare for a fall election- yes. However, the only true benefit of this plan is too weaken the perception that the Liberals aren’t ready, and in so doing blunt Harper’s perceived leverage. Practically, there is no real danger of a fall election and Liberal should operate within this true reality.