Thursday, October 04, 2007

Trap Or Bluster

The media are framing Harper's "ultimatum" press conference yesterday as a trap, particularly one for the Liberals. I don't quite get the assumption that Harper has made a shrewd political move, or his rigid stance as further proof of his tactical genius. The theory follows that Harper is itching for an election and the opposition either does him a favor or they pass everything he wants. Harper will proceed as though in majority, like it or lump it.

There is one piece missing in the analysis of the Harper bluster, simple math. If you assume that the Conservatives prospects of another Harper minority is hardly a powerful card in this game of brinksmanship, then all the strategic strong arming evaporates. Simple math, Harper needs to pickup 31 seats to gain a majority. A quick peruse of the political landscape and you find wanting odds.

I am making assumptions here, but none of them seem particularly outlandish. With regard to Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives will likely lose seats, 5 seems a reasonable medium. That reality translates to 36 seats needed for the Conservatives elsewhere.

It is fair to say the Conservatives will pickup seats in Quebec, but it is a pipe dream to think the Bloc will be so decimated, that 2/3 of their incumbent seats will move into the Conservative column. For arguments sake, lets put forward the best case scenario and say the Conservatives pickup 10-20 seats, which is still quite generous, given the polls. I'll give them 20 seats, just to prove the point. Still need 16 seats.

If there is one thing that will keep Ontario wary, it's the prospect of a Harper majority. The polls have all shown a consistent spread, relative to the last election, which in simple terms means NO to MINIMAL pickup for the Conservatives. I see no inroads into Liberal terrority, in fact all indications point to the status quo.

Moving west, no real room for further Conservative expansion in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, obviously Alberta. In fact, you could make the point that there are some vulnerabilities for the Conservatives outside of the home base. A definite NO pickup.

Which brings us to British Columbia, and the this is where the dreams of majority die quickly. If Harper wins every seat in the province but 3, then he gets his additional seats. That scenario never happens, as a matter of fact the polls consistently show a three-way race, that could actually lower the Conservative totals in the province. At best a status quo, at best.

Some of these conclusion are up for interpretation, but I'm pretty sure the Tory braintrust has run the numbers and viewed the same landscape. With that reality in mind, all the chest thumping is just that. Harper doesn't hold all the cards, as the media seems to suggest, and the opposition, particularly the Liberals should react in kind. There is only way to react to a bully, especially a paper tiger.

12 comments:

Gayle said...

I suppose he may think that if he publicly agrees there is no way he can win a majority he may dupe people into feeling comfortable enough to vote for him, thereby getting that majority after all.

Or, he could think what happened to the liberal party during the last election may happen again, and certain elements will work to sabotage their election campaign, thereby giving him a majority.

Probably he knows that since his numbers are not going up, this is his one and only "best" chance to get one - because once the liberals' house is in order people will come back.

Certainly the "At Issue" panel on CBC last night did not seem impressed.

900 ft Jesus said...

it's not a trap, just another case of Stevie trying to look in control, like this is his decvision. Just last week, papers were saying "Duceppe draws the line," and "Dion draws the line" concerning the Throne speech. Today, some journalists are saying "Harper draws the line."

Today, whispers of in-fighting in the New-getting old government. I think he's scrambling, making it up as he goes along, stunned that his self-perceived brilliance hasn't given him a majority. I hear people who don't like him say he's intelligent. I disagree. Imagination and a healthy emotional range contribute to intelligence, and his limitations in those two areas prevent him from accurately assessing people and situations, hampering his ability to make intelligent decisions.

Steve V said...

gayle

"I suppose he may think that if he publicly agrees there is no way he can win a majority he may dupe people into feeling comfortable enough to vote for him, thereby getting that majority after all."

I see Duceppe really playing the "a majority comes through Quebec" angle, and while people might be prepared to flirt with Harper, when push comes to shove, I don't think they will give him unchecked power.

Jesus

"making it up as he goes along"

Which explains why the Cons ran out of ideas barely a year into their mandate.

James said...

"Probably he knows that since his numbers are not going up, this is his one and only "best" chance to get one - because once the liberals' house is in order people will come back."

Not only would the house be more in order, Harper would be more fatigued from Question Period on the Hill.

Me thinks this is Harper's best chance at getting re-elected, period.

Gayle said...

I am not sure there is anything preventing Dion from abstaining on the Throne speech and voting against one of these so-called confidence matters when they come up.

I think the only people who are actually aware of the mechanics of all this have already parked their votes anyway. I doubt Dion would lose anything that way, and it would certainly buy him some time (and put Harper back in the HofC for a while).

Steve V said...

"I am not sure there is anything preventing Dion from abstaining on the Throne speech and voting against one of these so-called confidence matters when they come up."

One of the talking heads mentioned that today. The Liberals abstain, but eventually, if Harper keeps pushing, they vote against legislation, for fear that they begin to look irrelevant.

Gayle said...

Wow - I am just as smart as a talking head.

They should give me a job :).

knb said...

Another talking head suggested that the Lib's come to consensus, agree to vote against, yet not defeat, then all the traitors stand up and vote against Dion.

Duffy of course released that. Sick.

I don't buy it because it's suicide, not just for the next election, but every one there after. If they don't get that concept, they are dumber than I thought.

What Harper laid out is bluster. It contravenes what is the norm and what he's proposed in the past.

His big gun is aimed at the Lib's. The Lib's have problems right now, agreed, but do not under estimate their ability to work through parlimentary process.

In other words, don't sniff the ink that is being scrawled at the moment. It will make you delusional and perhaps catch you in Harp's new drug program.

Steve V said...

"Another talking head suggested that the Lib's come to consensus, agree to vote against, yet not defeat, then all the traitors stand up and vote against Dion."

Knb, I heard that too, which is one of the more ridiculous suggestions I've heard. It was posited as though people where actually considering it, when it is so obviously nonsense. Somebody reads way too much Shakespeare me thinks.

Steve V said...

gayle

Don't apply to Canwest ;)

Tomm said...

Steve,

Harper clearly does not want the delays and obstruction from the last Parliament. He has set the scene where that sort of obstruction, primarily caused by opposition dominated committee's and Liberal dominated Senate delays will be a legitimate purpose to ask the GG for an election.

The public will buy it because all Harper said was he wants the opportunity to govern and that is consistent with the public wish. All things are true. The public seems OK with a minority government. The public wants it to work. Harper will be able to legitimately say that it isn't working and therefore the government is frozen and requires a renewal.

The Liberal's get pegged with the black hats. If they accept the black hats, they keep their pride but lose support. If they react angrily they appear to be whiners and power hungry disrupters.

If you saw Rex Murphy he also believes that a trap has been set.

Tomm

Gayle said...

"Harper clearly does not want the delays and obstruction from the last Parliament. He has set the scene where that sort of obstruction, primarily caused by opposition dominated committee's and Liberal dominated Senate delays will be a legitimate purpose to ask the GG for an election."

Tomm

I hope you realize these delays are not all the fault of the opposition - the government shares responsibility. Harper's refusal to acknowledge the interests and desires of 65% of Canadians, as represented by their elected MP's, violates the democratic principles he claims to adhere to.

The only people who absolve Harper are the ones who are already blinded by his "divine" light.