The poets say that in springtime a young man's fancy turns to love, which may very well be true in other countries of the world this year, but not Canada. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that spring doesn't come to mid-June in Canada's capital city Ottawa, (which boasts the coldest average mean temperature of any nation's capital city) or the fact that the Conservative Party of Canada is hungry for a majority government in our houses of Parliament.
Whatever the reasons, it appears that thoughts are turned towards something less romantic then love and quite a bit more ugly: an election. Although I suppose a case could be made that the election is being considered because of the love for power that various gentlemen feel all the time, it still doesn't make it any more romantic.
The Conservative Party of Canada has been busy preparing for an election for the past month, while vigorously denying they want one. "Why would we subject the Canadian people"…etc. They started running attack ads against the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, their main opposition, during the Super Bowl's broadcast, they've taken out rental contracts on various buses and planes, and yet they continue to deny they are getting ready for an election.
For those of you who need a little background, Canada is a parliamentary, multiparty democracy. The country is divided up into ridings, electoral districts, and each riding has a seat in the House Of Commons. During an election the political parties try to win as many of these seats as possible and the party with the most at the end of the voting has won.
In the last election, just over a year ago, the Conservative Party Of Canada won the most seats, but did not have enough to run the government without the support of at least one of the three opposition parties. If they lose an important vote – like on a budget – they would be forced to call an election.
Although they are denying it until they are blue in the face, the Conservatives are in the best shape to call an election of their whole term of office. The Liberal Party has lost the " bounce" in the polls they received after electing their new leader Stephen Dion last December, and the Conservatives have regained a slight advantage.
The last thing they want to do is show themselves to be eager for power and calling an election without being forced to. But they want to have an election as soon as possible: while they are looking good in the polls, before Canadian soldiers start getting killed again on a regular basis Afghanistan again, and before the summer comes because everyone hates a summer election almost as much as a winter one.
So the best bet for the Conservative is if they can engineer their own loss in the House to make it look like the opposition has forced an election, thus making them look like the bad guys. With that in mind March 19th looks to be a crucial date in this year's calendar of events for the House of Commons.
That's the date that the Conservative Party is set to introduce their proposed budget for the upcoming year. It won't take much for the Conservatives to submit a budget that no other party is prepared to support. If their budget is defeated they will be "forced" to call an election and with great reluctance they will.
While the Conservatives are hoping that they can ride their leader's, Prime Minister Steven Harper, perceived leadership skills to victory, and nothing less then a majority will be considered a victory in this election, they should face an uphill battle. But that is conditional on how well the opposition is able to keep the public focused on the real issues of the campaign and not the make-believe one of leadership.
If the issues are ignored, or downplayed, and the election turns into a simple personality contest, the Liberals could be in trouble. Their only hope then is to play up Steven Harper's arrogance and isolation from his own party and the people of Canada. They will need to remind Canadians that this is the man who has forbidden his caucus members to talk to the media without permission from his office.
They will also do well to remind people that Mr. Harper wanted to send Canadian troops to Iraq, continues to want to put Canadian troops in combat situations in Afghanistan when we were supposed to be there to help rebuild the country, and has been responsible for the largest numbers of Canadian servicemen killed in the line of duty since World War Two.
This will be an election of reason and intelligence, Stephane Dion, against sound bites and emotional manipulation. Steven Harper will play on people's fears and hatreds, Stephane Dion will tell them the truth as he sees it in a calm and rational manner. There is much more of a difference between the two men than the way they spell their names.
When they bring up the leadership issue, and talk about Steven Harper as being a strong forceful leader, able to make the tough decisions decisively; remember that Adolph Hitler was a strong decisive leader and so was Stalin, it's not necessarily a good thing. Would you have wanted to live under either one them?
You've heard about the attack ads, you've seen that they've made all their reservations for running a campaign but they keep saying they don't want an election, or if the opposition is so upset let them defeat us and have an election over it. So it's very funny how a political party so unwilling to fight an election, is as prepared to fight one as the Conservative Party is right now. You'd almost think they wanted it.