The Conservatives are breaking their own taboo by starting to call on Canadians to award them a majority government in the next election.
The tactic will be part of an appeal for stability in a recession if the opposition defeats the government in the Commons early this fall, a year after the last election.
The Conservatives expect to contrast their call for a majority with two other potential scenarios they hope will prove less appealing: a Liberal minority and a Liberal-NDP coalition.
In fairness, one has to wonder if the Conservatives have much choice. After all, arguing for another minority- which essentially maintains the status quo Canadians are increasingly frustrated with- is a pretty pedestrian approach. With that said, this argument is rife with potential blowback for the government.
Over the past few years, we've seen a consistent backlash from voters when the prospect of a Harper majority are pondered. While Harper has won elections, he hasn't really endeared himself to Canadians- amazingly, in many respects, he remains an enigma, despite the tenure. There is a underlying belief, that a Harper majority would be much different than a Harper in check. That distinction shouldn't be lost on anyone, and the prospect could have the boomerang effect of consolidating opposition to stop Harper. Particularly in a place like Quebec, where Harper is wildly unpopular, the prospect might just benefit the alternative, rallying support that otherwise drifts elsewhere.
There is also this potential angle, which the Liberals would be wise to exploit. All this instability and hyper partisanship, which has lead to constant election talk, has happened under which regime? Do you reward the manager for the chaos under his watch? You can turn this majority talk around into a verdict on Harper's inability to work with other parties, a statement of his own failures. That sentiment can resonate with voters, particularly if Harper insists on interjecting the "coalition" talk. Harper is seen a mean spirited, highly partisan and divisive. Liberals can counter that the architect of instability is the real problem, we can offer a more bi-partisan, inclusive approach, an end to the constant nonsense. Point to the irony of skunk complaining about the smell.
Realistically, I see no chance of a Conservative majority, when you do the math. Yes, they only have to turn a few more seats to achieve, but with the changed landscape, it's not so simple- other seats are also in play, which translates to a probable net nowhere at best. In fact, when you input all the various variables, 2008 was the Conservative "perfect storm", that has little chance of replicating itself. With that in mind, pushing for a majority now, brings just as many pitfalls as it does potential. I suspect the Liberal war room will entertain the same. In fact, I'd lean towards WELCOMING this narrative from the Conservatives, because when voters are asked which they would prefer, a Con or Lib majority, we win every time. Narrow it down to this choice, hard to see the "in totality" downside from our perspective. Harper just might stir up a dynamic that has been his trump card for years, counting on a divided opposition for his own benefit.