Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Canadians Could Go To The Polls Very, Very Soon

There is a great deal of talk that there will be an election in Canada very, very soon.

Much of the talk is from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Earlier this month, he referred to Parliament as being "dysfunctional" and placed the blame on Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion. The Conservatives, who have a minority government, have been subjected to repeated votes of confidence over the past few months. Invariably, the Liberals either don't attend the vote or vote with the government.

The Conservatives want a vote as do the NDP and Bloc Quebecois. Why don't the Liberals want one? They are deeply in debt. They are also trailing the Conservatives in the polls. An Ipsos Reid/Global/National Post poll released August 19th had the Tories at 36% and the Liberals at 30%.

Harper is up in the Arctic promoting Canadian sovereignty. He's also asked Governor General Michelle Jean not to attend the Paralympics in Beijing next month. She was due to have left on September 5th. You see, in Canada, the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to dissolve Parliament for the purposes of calling an election.

There is some controversy around this though. Last year, the Tory government, following trends in Ontario and British Columbia, passed legislation to have elections on fixed dates as they do in the United States. The next federal election was due to have taken place on October 19, 2009. However, Harper states that since his government is a minority one the law does not apply. After all, the government can fall on a confidence vote thus forcing elections.

Back in February, the government came close to falling over whether Canada would continue its mission in Afghanistan. ( Fortunately, the French came to the rescue. (Yes, I actually did write that last sentence.)

Harper could pull the trigger as soon as September 2nd, the day after Labor Day. Harper and the Tories came to power after elections in January 2006.

Naturally, Harper's aim is to have the voters give him a majority government so that Parliament won't be "dysfunctional." But he could also be rewarded with another minority government. Which would for him be as bad as losing to the Liberals outright. There might be great reward for Harper. But great reward does come with great risk.

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