I guess Michael Ignatieff expects us to be waiting with baited breath for his decision on whether to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government thereby triggering a summer election. Given recent polls that have the Grits leading the Tories by a few points, the prospect of an election has some Grits salivating—they can’t wait to get their hands on all that unallocated stimulus money.
Time will tell, of course, but I think the chief Grit is bluffing so he can seem to hold more clout than he actually does. For one thing, Ignatieff needs the two other opposition parties to vote with him against the Conservatives, and I don’t really think they see the recent polls as being favourable to their election prospects. There is also the issue of several Bloc MPs needing time served in the House to secure lucrative pensions.
If an election were called, it would be the fourth in just over five years. Does anyone really want that? And what chance is there that Michael Ignatieff will win a majority in the House? I’d say Ignatieff has a fair to good chance of winning a minority, but his current prospects of a majority are poor to none.
With only a minority of seats in the house, a Grit government would be at the mercy of the Dippers—not an arrangement the small “c” conservative Ignatieff would relish or long tolerate. Imagine the Dippers holding the balance of power in the midst of an economic recession [shudder].
So how does five elections in six or seven years sound? A real, if unattractive, prospect if Ignatieff miscalculates and pulls the plug too soon on the Tories.
Then we have the stimulus package and its deployment. Any summer election will add months to the already glacially slow process of getting the funds out the door. Ignatieff and his team have been hammering Stephen Harper daily over the pace of deployment, so how would he justify slowing—even temporarily halting—the process?
But here’s the question of the day: how does our erstwhile American professor Ignatieff, in his most parsimonious style, explain why he will not force an election?
Ignatieff says he will make his decision as soon as today. The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have already indicated that they will vote against the economic update in the House of Commons. So that leaves Ignatieff in a box of his own construction with little wiggle room.
Stay tuned. …
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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