Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fall Election?

The summer lull looks to be over, with all three opposition leaders hinting at a fall election. Dion doesn't want to make threats, but:
"If they (shut down Parliament), and they go to another throne speech, everybody knows...that the risk of an election is going up," Dion said. "I can't speak for the other parties but there's no chance, or no risks I should say, that Liberal MPs would rise in support of a throne speech that we judged was going against the best interests of Canadians and the honour of our country."

Layton talking tough:
A Conservative decision to ignore a law requiring them to find ways to meet Kyoto targets is a provocation that could spell the end of the minority government.

"It is an explicit and important example of how the government is not respecting the wishes of the majority of elected parliamentarians," NDP Leader Jack Layton said. "They can't expect our party to take that kind of disrespect lying down."

Passage of the Throne Speech would require a confidence motion that could cause the government to fall - and Mr. Layton suggests the lack of action on climate change would force his party to vote against the Conservatives.

The Bloc, sounding fiesty:
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe says he's ready to take down Stephen Harper's Conservative government if the prime minister doesn't make a firm commitment to withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan by February 2009.

"Everybody knows there's a possibility of a ... confidence vote where the government can be defeated," he told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

The missing element, what would be the Conservative thinking on a fall election. It would be pretty easy for Harper to engineer his own defeat with a defiant throne speech, so you would have to assume the PMO is weighing pros and cons. One intangible, a fall election doesn't give the Liberals any traction with the Ontario by-elections and the "star" factor is negated.

Is all this talk from the opposition idle bluster or real desire? From the Bloc perspective, the fall is attractive, because they are likely to win 2 by-elections in Quebec, which should give them some momentum to argue relevance. Judging by Duceppe's reaction to the soldiers death, the cynic in me envisions a careful read of the calendar, with the Afghanistan winter in mind. The Bloc's fortunes in Quebec have turned around slightly in the aftermath of Duceppe's "I'm in, I'm out" confusion, so it isn't a stretch to think they would be prepared to pull the plug.

The NDP took a hit in the latest SES poll, but in all the other polling (online excluded) you find a nice upward trend since last winter. Layton's two big issues, the environment and Afghanistan are both on center stage when Parliament re-convenes, the NDP might conclude the fall has its advantages.

The Liberals are a harder read, and my instincts tell me they would prefer to hold off until spring, Dion's comments aside. Dion did reject Duceppe's language today, saying he doesn't want to make "threats", which might translate into less than enthusiastic support for a confrontation. Between shaky fiscal numbers, and the idea that time is Dion's friend, the Liberal perspective is more complicated. I'm also not convinced that Dion wants an election over the Kyoto Protocol specifically, because it does allow the Conservatives good counter for confusion. The NDP on the other hand, might enjoy watching the Liberals squirm, while Layton attempts to fill the environmental void, all pure and perfect. Tactically, some risk and possible pitfalls for the Liberals.

Conclusion, should be an interesting session.


Anonymous said...

Dion - if he is listening to McCallum - sees a severe downturn in the markets coming associated with the subprime collapse in the US. It could lead to a rapid fall in the C$, and a sharp shock to the Canadian economy. This would eliminate any possible good news Flaherty budget.

His Ontario troops will also be energized, and he will be able to build some momentum going into the Spring.

If Harper's economic advisers are reading the same data, there is no way Harper will wait. Besides, his War Room rental runs out in February, and the shadow leadership teams of Prentice, Bernier and MacKay won't wait around forever.

Dion knows all that, which is why he sees no need in making threats. He will wait to blame the others for calling an early election. What a chicken!!

Steve V said...


That is a great point on the economy, which I hadn't considered.

Anonymous said...

I'ts just so sad watching Dion go through his " look at me, I have nothing to say" routine.
Canada as a whole would be better served if he could just understand that opposition doesn't mean just being contrary.