First off, I think we are NOW at the point in the election cycle wherein whomever actually "triggers" a vote will face little electoral blow back. One caveat, the party that looks most eager may be on the defensive at the very outset of a campaign, but that will disappear as we build up a real lather.
If you're listening to the Conservatives, we see the talking point on the election speculation is "the government will not trigger an election". Choirs are rarely this in tune, and it is fair to say this pushed posture brings certain advantages. However, this notion the Conservatives are pushing is simply bunk, which deserves some follow up or critical questioning.
If you are the government of the day, if you hold a minority, then it is INCUMBENT on you to form a majority consensus, the inability of which is in and of itself a "trigger". The question becomes whether or not this government has compromised, reached out, consulted, with other parties to get their budget passed? Has the government made a real effort to speak to the opposition parameters, or have they simply acted as though a majority, my way or the highway, this is the policy, deal with it? If it's the latter, then it is the government who is triggering an election, at least if one is giving a fair interpretation of our Parliamentary democracy and its CURRENT makeup.
The Liberals have laid out certain demands, like all parties have done. That mere assertion of certain values doesn't equate to saber rattling on its own, unless of course political parties aren't allowed to stand for anything that deviates from another party. We don't demand the NDP or Bloc mirror the government agenda, and yet when the Liberals take a stand it suddenly becomes "itching for an election". Read carefully, the dynamic is clear, we cannot accept certain policies, so if you want to avoid an election, we need some revision.
Let's throw out a theoretical- the government agrees to delay corporate tax cuts for one year, but stands firm on the F35 purchase. Then, we have a government trying to build consensus, it puts the ball squarely back in the Liberal court and any subsequent rejection may just qualify as "triggering an election". The Conservatives show an ability to compromise, making it incumbent that the Liberals do the same. But, this scenario isn't what we see, instead we get a pseudo majority mentality that finds conflict instead of minority demanded compromise.
If we go to an election, it is a testament to the fact this government doesn't play well with others, has failed to properly reach out to the opposition, thus triggering this unnecessary election they continually argue. If the government TRULY believes the "last thing we need" is an election, then we should see herculean efforts to avoid just that, Ignatieff's phone should be ringing, Flaherty should be meeting with Brison, a sense that people are trying to find agreement. To date CRICKETS, so let us all dispense with lapping up this thin government talking point, because it simply falls apart with the slightest scrutiny.