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.