The National Post’s John Ivison speculates that the creation of 22 new seats in the House of Commons after the 2011 census will make winning a majority much easier for the Conservatives. Apparently, the changes will benefit the Tories disproportionately, given they will increase representation from their power-base in the West and diminish the influence of the regions where they are weakest—Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The new seats are unlikely to be in play much before 2014, what with traditional consultations and bureaucratic red tape.
John’s a clever fellow so I wouldn’t bet against him. However, there are other possibilities that could repaint Canada’s political landscape. A lot can happen in five years or so.
To start with, consider the demise or nearly so of either the NDP or the Bloc—perhaps both. If Michael Ignatieff does not show better leadership than he has so far, he’ll lose the next election and open the way for the left-wing of his party to take control—perhaps led by Bob Rae. This, in turn, could see the moderates of the NDP flock to the Liberal banner in a unite-the-left movement that could defeat the Tories at the polls.
Or, with a strongly left-leaning Liberal Party on the ballot in Quebec, perhaps the Grits could knock off the Bloc.
As for Alberta, I’d be a bit cautious about assuming the Tories will continue their dominance there indefinitely. How will the demographics of that province be affected as Canada’s population shifts from have-not Ontario to oil and gas rich Alberta? And will Ontarians take their left-leaning voting habits with them? Also, there is Saskatchewan and British Columbia to consider: both have growing populations and neither are Tory strongholds.
PM Stephen Harper’s best bet is to bring his party just to the political right of centre and keep it there while hoping the right won’t once again split off as seems to be happening with the Wild Rose-Alliance movement in Albert. And, what if the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta has federal aspirations?
In five years we could have a united left and a divided right contesting a federal election. God save us all.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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