Election Watch Canada - 2007
OK - I know I've been pretty solid in my predictions that there won't be an election in Canada this spring - at least, not one called by the government. However, I'm putting Canada on election watch anyway - effective starting immediately through ... oh, let's make it May 5. Reason being - there's a new poll - exclusive to CP (supposedly) - just released that shows... Well, all the usual stuff - Tories substantially ahead of the Grits, close to majority territory but not quite, large numbers of undecideds suggest volatility, blah blah blah. However, this one contains a potentially important little detail that the others have left out: the Bloc is in first place in Quebec. Never mind the PQ's huge setback there last week - the federal version of the party seems to be doing just fine. Who knew?
IF Harper is going to set his government up to fail so that he can have an election (and potentially win a majority), then he will want to do it when the Bloc is strong. Reason being: the Tories have almost no chance in Quebec and everyone knows it. The Liberals depend on votes from Quebec and Ontario to win their perennial majority governments. Right now, the Conservatives form the government only because the Liberal caucus is so weak. If there's a new vote and the Liberals make up lost ground in Quebec, but Conservative numbers remain more or less unchanged, then Harper loses even his fragile current minority government (the Liberals would form a coalition with the dreaded NDP). If, however, there's a new election, and Harper does more or less what he did last time, but the Bloc comes back even stronger, then he'll at least recoup his losses with an opposition more manageable in its division.
Now - I'm still not predicting an election. No doubt Harper's watching the numbers like a hawk - but I think it's just not in the air yet. Not really, anyway. Granted, my personal opinion is that they can probably win their majority now if they just have enough confidence (and take the initiative on the environment issue early). But people with more on the line here than a graduate student blogger - and not even a Canadian one! - will take a more sober look at what they have to lose and advise caution.
Still - that Bloc showing must look awful tempting to Harper. AND he's leading by 6 points in Ontario - which is huge for a Conservative lead in that province. Ideally, he'd want his margin to be greater in Ontario, of course, and also to get a bone or two thrown his way from Quebec. Probably what it comes down to is whether support for the Tories in Quebec seems strong enough to allow him to keep the 6 seats he got there last time. The article linked just doesn't say. But if it does... Well, your guess is as good as mine. In any case, election watch for Canada until May 5.