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Election or no election?

There is an interesting column by Chantal Hebert this morning. She muses that even though Dion and the Liberals might not be ready yet to fight an election, now might be the time to go; or maybe not.

I’ll refrain from the temptation of musing about her ability to turn any column she writes as a critique of Dion all of the time, and state that she has an interesting point. Harper and the Conservatives definitely are flailing, but all of the other opposition parties aren’t exactly bringing in sparkling poll #’s. Hebert states that if Dion doesn’t somehow make the Tories accountable on their climate-change plan, he will lose his credibility on the issue. However, it will take all 3 parties to vote no-confidence in the government and force an election, and those other parties have publicly stated they weren’t going to probably bring the government down on this (and Dion has publicly said the same thing – he’d prefer to work in Parliament to try and force the amended Bill C-30 to pass, rather then have an election over it).

I’ve already made my position clear here – I think the government has lost the confidence of the House over its environmental policies and over the botched Afghanistan issue, and we should be going to an election. Others think differently however. It’s a tough call. Do you want to take the time to organize your team better and/or wait/hope for better polling #’s (or worse ones for the Tories), or do you go now and not allow the government time to weather the storm and possibly re-control the agenda? You would do so knowing the Senate has now passed the fixed elections bill, so the Tories can’t engineer their own demise – it would have to be the opposition parties who force the election.

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8 comments to Election or no election?

  • I want a summer election because I’m off this summer for a change. I could actually help. 🙂 On the other hand, there’s no liberal candidate in my riding yet, so I’m not in too great a hurry.

    First, a bit of a side-note. People are saying that C-16 will prevent the Prime Minister from engineering his own defeat. I’m a Canadian political science student, and I’ve read the bill. I don’t see how that’s true. The governor general retains the right to dissolve parliament in the case of a loss of confidence. A loss of confidence can be engineered by putting forward confidence motions that the opposition parties will not let pass, and having your own members abstain if necessary in order to allow the motion to fail. This is not a change in our constitution, it’s just a change in our elections act, such that if nothing has happened before the second Monday of October in the fourth calendar year after the election, there will be another election.

    As for what Dion should do, I’m with Staples. He has put his eggs in the environmental basket, and now is a test of his seriousness. He should move non-confidence, let people know that it’s over the environment, Afghanistan, and the economy (one issue for each of his three pillars), and take an election if it comes.

  • In_The_Centre

    Josesph is right.

    However, it is going to take time to re-brand the Liberal Party from a party for the elite, urbanites and academics to one that is actually perceived as caring about the grassroots and can go beyond the three major cities in Canada (You will note that only 2 of the 4 final leadership candidates were able to do this). The quota on woman candidates, although a good move, is also having a consequence on our fundraising efforts.

    Most campaigns out here on the west coast are going to be operating on shoestring budgets of 20,000 – 30,000 (except for Liberal incumbent seats). Even in swing ridings, our party will be out financed by the NDP and Conservatives (who typcially spend 50,000 – 80,000)

    On the brightside, hopefully running on shoestring budgets will allow for some creative and innovative thinking when it comes to campaign advertising and reaching out to voters.

    My point? Whether we have an election now or in a year, we will not catch up when it comes to money. At this point, voters are not angry enough at the Conservatives to come out on masse and donate to the Liberals.

    -ITC

  • Gayle

    I agree with Hebert. This is not a good time for the liberals to go to the polls, but there is a big risk Dion will lose his credibility if he does nothing.

    As Staples says, if the other two parties will not support the motion all the better for Dion – though he has to be prepared in the event they do support it.

  • Kyle Olsen

    The soonest we will see a writ dropped is the day after the Ontario provincial election. To do so earlier would be very diastorous.

  • Southern Ontario Grunt

    Its time to pull the plug and go to the polls. Harper is in the corner on Afganist and and environment and there is no sense in letting him off the ropes by adjourning the House for the summer.
    Liberals are refreshed in the ridings and we have the momentum. Its time.

  • I think the Liberals have to bring forward a motion of non-confidence in the gov’t over them not reaching the Kyoto targets. Otherwise Dion loses his primary issue. If the BQ and/or NDP don’t support it then it makes it all the easier for the Liberals to bring it forward.

  • Joseph

    Well, while I want to believe it could be as simple that losing the confidence means calling an election, I think it would be foolish to launch an election now – not because of poll numbers, not because of leader, not because of organizing the team. Those are all good points. However, all overlook one key aspect!

    I say this as someone generally supportive of the Liberals, but the Liberals had better solve the fundraising issue PRONTO because they are fooling themselves if they think the conservatives dominating the money race won’t impact an election.

    With the anemic fundraising numbers now, while the conservatives rake in the dough, the conservatives would literally be able to buy an election by flooding advertising (false as it may be) in all the key competitive ridings – knowing the liberals wouldn’t have the funds to strike back. Not every voter would be swayed, but enough would be to swing many ridings. The results could be horrible with a 30 – 50 day campaign.

    Those are my two cents, so if you add that to several billion more pennies, the Liberals might actually be able to fund an election.

  • knb

    Good points all Scott. That said, I can’t help feeling any advise offered to the Lib’s by Hebert, should be ignored.

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