Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Sunday, March 18, 2007


What polls are people looking at?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
I keep hearing people suggest that there won't be a federal election this spring because the polling numbers aren't there for Harper. What are they talking about?

Most polls have the Tories at about 37%, which is where they were in the last election. A nudge upwards of a few percentage points and they get their majority. How in the world is that not a good polling number for Prime Minister Harper?

The Tories made greater leaps in the polls in both of the last two election campaigns. They now control the agenda. They have governed in the so-called "centre." They have raised way more money than the other parties. They are experienced at campaigning. The main opposition party is in no shape to form government yet.

So many things could go wrong in the next year for the Tories, so why wouldn't they want to pull the plug right now? It's the perfect storm.

The prime minister is certainly acting like he's in the middle of an election campaign now. They have the messaging down. They have the resources in place.

If we're not headed into an election soon, it will have been the most expensive dress rehearsal for a campaign that Canada has ever seen.

On top of that, I think Harper will dare the opposition to bring him down on an issue of his choice, which will probably involve crime and security. So, he'll be able to fight a spring election on his terms, not on those the opposition would prefer.

You just don't get these kinds of opportunities all the time. The Tories are obviously ready to go. The opposition isn't.

So please don't tell me the polls aren't there for Harper. He could go into an election with one hand tied behind his back and still get a majority. Please.

Harper is staring down the Opposition parties just before the Budget comes down, fully expecting them to be critical and non-supportive. Once they begin their attacks he will challenge them to vote non-confidence because he may tell them that he is not going to change anything in it.

Then what do they do? Send it to committees in an attempt to frustrate the Budget, giving the Opposition more time to tear it down?

What happens next?


What happens next? Pass the popcorn and sit back. There's so much that's going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

I suspect that even the Liberals will be conciliatory regarding the budget, in part because of its impact on the Quebec election.

Since I think Harper wants to create the impression that he's delivering for Quebec, I don't think he'll deliberately insert something in the budget to force the opposition to kill it.

So, the budget will pass. Charest will be happy. The environment will be the next big item on the table. I believe a deal will be made with the NDP on the Clean Air Act.

That probably leaves crime and terrorism as issues Harper will want to fall on.

That's my best guess right now. This is where there are stark ideological differences between Harper and the opposition, and where Harper is not afraid to campaign on those differences, if necessary.

I just don't see how we don't have an election this spring. Too many things going Harper's way, despite what the poll gazers with clouded vision are saying.


You say:

"That probably leaves crime and terrorism as issues Harper will want to fall on. "

Well Dion seems to agree with Harper on crime issues now, but all three opposition parties differ with Harper on terrorism .. domestically and in the Middle East.

Don't you think that it might be a tad risky to have the next election fought on the issue of terrorism given that most Canadians are quite lackadasical about their national security and prefer to capitulate rather than fight a fantom enemy far away from us?


Actually, on both crime and terrorism, Harper believes in what the Liberals say they used to believe, but now say they don't under Dion: provisions under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and mandatory minimum sentences.

Harper will say he wants to make Canada safe using laws Liberals say they once supported, but now don't because of bad leadership.

Sounds like a pretty good election strategy to me.


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