"The option to call a general election before the resumption of parliamentary is on the table. Everything will depend on the results of meetings with the heads of the other parties"
When I first heard of the meeting, at Harper's request, it seemed unusual, given his style. I actually take the above quote as entirely true, because it fits nicely with the emerging Harper election rationalization. We already know how Duceppe and Layton will react, leaving the discussion between Dion and Harper as key. In a sense, I see this meeting as a trap, Harper can use this dialogue to justify the "dysfunctional" argument. Pretty easy to picture the following- Harper emerges from his meeting with Dion and tells Canadians he sees no common purpose, it is clear from Dion's stance that Parliament can't work. In this way, Harper takes the onus off himself, attempting to show he extended an olive branch only to be rebuffed by the other parties. Harper throws up his hands and calls an election.
There was a curious development last week, Harper's calling of another byelection, to take place after Parliament reconvenes. This call wasn't necessary, but its timing is quite revealing in my estimation. What better way to send mixed messages to the opposition, than to float the idea of a quick election call, then throw in a by-election to make it appear that Parliament would reconvene? It's the kind of gamesmanship Harper loves, this belief in keeping others off balance. This latest by-election call isn't what it appears, and I see it as a way to get the dogs off the scent.
La Presse speculates that the election would take place on October 20th or 27th, just prior to the American contest. In many ways, I can understand Harper's hurry, I honestly think the decision has already been made. Whether he can or not, is another matter, but easy to see why calling an election before Parliament reconvenes is advantageous. If you sense the opposition wants an election, why give them a high profile forum to make their case, why allow them to batter the government, soften them up prior to a vote? Moving prior, allows Harper to go on his own terms, without the limelight of pesky accountability, the spectre of scandal. If we see a real ramp up in Conservative ads in the next couple of weeks, it will provide another clue.
I think the economy is tanking, beyond what Flaherty projected. I also think the next financial release could well show a further deficit, something which isn't easily fluffed off like the previous update. How can the government make their case, if we have another indicator of fiscal mismanagement? A slumping economy, a government who will be on defensive if they pass out typical election goodies, not a optimal situation for Harper. Better to go sooner, before the chickens come home to roost.
Harper has revealed himself, if we read between the lines. This allows the Liberals to react with that knowledge, and Dion could well short circuit this ultimatum style meeting with his own preamble. I think Harper has already decided, what could he possibly think could come of these face to face meetings? It's a joke really, there is nothing constructive about it. The smart play is to assume, and react in a magnanimous way, don't give Harper the cover he desperately needs to rationalize. We want to see what the government proposes when Parliament returns, and we will react depending on their proposals. Any thoughts of an election call prior to the return, shows Harper is desperate to avoid scrutiny, he is worried about scandal, he is manufacturing a crisis that doesn't exist. The Harper argument is really a nonsensical one, the only way it works is if we fall for his trap by appearing combative.