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Harper too clever by half?

I get what is being said over here by Woman at Mile 0, and I understand Steve’s suspicion, and I know Harper gets credited with being a Machiavellian master strategist, whether he deserves the label or not, but sometimes you can outsmart yourselves, and I think Harper has potentially done so here, if he goes ahead and pulls the plug.

You’ve got a Prime Minister who can be presented to the public as breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of his own fixed term election law. Regardless that the law has a loophole in it, he’s going to come across pretty badly trying to explain to the public that he’s using the Governor-General as a loophole to get around his own law.

Other optics are bad for him: parliament has not been paralysed into passing no bills, the Liberal-dominated Senate is not holding any big glut of legislation up, and those committees that are shut down, if that’s what he’s going to point at – has been shut down by his own Conservative Party members. Furthermore, one of the committees that is in operation is the one looking at the Conservative “In and Out” electoral finance scheme, which has the Conservatives trying to portray Elections Canada as some biased federal body in league with Liberals, socialists, and the CBC, all the while supposedly displaying authoritarian tendencies. Call me sceptical the general public is going to buy that. He can be hammered on over and over again in an election campaign that not only was this election call unnecessary and going against the very fixed term law he passed, it was done to avoid having embarrassing evidence come to light.

As to my fellow bloggers comments above and elsewhere, I don’t think it’s a question of not allowing Harper to get what he wants. I don’t think there’s anything short of a capitulation by one of the party’s to say they will support Harper’s agenda, or (even more unlikely) Governor-General Jean refusing to grant the dissolution request, that is going to stop Harper from doing this anyhow.

As I said, it appears too clever by half, and I think if Harper calls an election in this scenario, it may come back to bite him. I wanted to go this Autumn anyhow, so it’s fine by me if he drops the writ.

UPDATE on Aug 23, 9:24am: Danielle makes an excellent observation. On Aug 13, Harper and the Cons are taunting Dion saying he will again cave on a vote, and in the space of a week, a 4th byelection is called, followed abruptly by musings that Harper will call an election even before those byelections take place. What changed in the space of a week? Danielle has some good theories over at her blogpost.


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