So just to prove how wrong you can be about everything, including politicians and their level of idiocy, The Conservative Party of Canada announced yesterday that they would try to pass a motion of non-confidence in the House of Commons of Tuesday, and force an election in the week before Christmas, on December 21st.
So much for my careful analysis of the Canadian political scene published in these illustrious pages on Friday. When will I ever learn, thinking that I can predict what the mind of a politician will (interesting typo just happened: plotician instead of politician. Sometimes dyslexia shows the truth of the matter) do. I seem to have as much success as those guys who track Hurricanes and change their minds on a daily basis where its going to land.
In my own defence I have to say that I didn’t think that anybody would be that politically suicidal to seek an election four days before Christmas. Aside from the fact that the Conservative party is trailing in the polls right now, which alone makes it a stupid decision, by pushing for this date they will prevent a measure handing out subsidies for fuel costs to middle and low income earners from passing in the House.
Taking money out of their pockets just before Christmas to help meet your own political ends is not a plan to endear you in the hearts and minds of a lot of people. Set aside the fact that you’ll have pissed off a huge amount of people by having an election four days before Christmas, do they not see how that will play out in the press?
“Scrooged by The Tories” “Conservatives Cancel Christmas”: are just two potential headlines that I can visualize showing up in the press over the next little while. Even the hardest hearted capitalist has been known to throw a few bucks into a Salvation Army kettle in the weeks before Christmas guys, this is like the Sheriff of Nottingham cancelling scraps for Lepers in the movie Robin Hood
Of course they have a fallback plan if they can’t convince the other two opposition parties to go along with this idea. Time it so that the election will be in the first week of January so that the campaign will take place over the Christmas holidays. Yep that will be just as popular won’t it? Overcooked turkey is hard enough to digest without having to have to listen to election drivel at the same time.
Whichever brain trust came up with these plans really needs to have their medication adjusted. Recent polls have suggested two things that should have given these large thinkers pause for thought. All polls suggest that an election called now wouldn’t change the configuration of the house an iota, thus solving nothing. The same polls also show that Canadian trust in politicians is at an all time low.
Sound like an ideal time to be manipulating the process in an obvious attempt to grab power. They can sermonize until the cows come home about lack of moral authority to lead and still leave Canadians wondering why they had to have their holidays ruined with a rushed election call. It’s going to look like a cynical grab for power no matter how many sugarplums they try to wrap it in.
The date that is in every politician’s mind right now is February 1st. That’s the day the Gomery Inquiry into the Sponsorship scandal releases its results. Prime Minister Paul Martin has promised to call an election within six weeks of those findings being published. (In my article on Friday I mistakenly said that elections are held six weeks after the dissolution of the House: obviously it’s five weeks going by the dates outlined by the Conservatives. My confusion stemmed from the promise offered by Mr. Martin)
In more than a few eyes that would appear as if he is willing to place himself before the Canadian people for judgement. But the opposition don’t want him to have an opportunity to hand out even more goodies to Canadians in a pre-election budget. The Conservatives are so terrified as it is by the financial statement the government is releasing on Monday, that they want to table a motion of non-confidence on Tuesday.
Although the Conservatives need the unanimous support of both opposition parties, the one they will really have to work on to convince to vote with them on Tuesday is the New Democratic Party (N.D.P.). The Quebec separatist party, the Bloc Quebecois, probably don’t care when the election is, as they will maintain their seats and probably win a few more no matter when it’s called.
But for the N.D.P. it’s all about perception. They have been the party shoring the governing Liberals up for the past year; it was their support that passed the budget last spring and prevented the government from being defeated. In the minds of the public they are irrevocably linked to the fate of the government. Even if it’s the Conservative Party that introduces the legislation that brings down the government, the chance is there that the public will hold the N.D.P. responsible.
The Canadian public is not particularly happy with politicians of any stripe these days. Oil prices going through the roof, our once vaunted health care system in shambles because of government neglect, and the Gomery Inquiry have combined to breed widespread cynicism and discontent with any overt political manoeuvring.
Cashing in on moral outrage may be seen as a viable enough reason for leading the country into an election either before Christmas or a campaign over the Christmas holidays by the strategists in the Conservative Party. The problem for them is the country just might see it in that light, and make them pay a heavy price for their opportunism.
There are too many examples in recent Canadian political history of parties paying the price for being too cute by half, and going down to ignominious defeat. The Conservative Party of Canada may want to talk to the former Progressive Conservative party members of their caucus before coming to any rash decisions. Having gone from running the country to almost losing party status in the course of one election they know how the public can turn on you.
Perhaps I was guilty of giving these people too much credit for intelligence, but you would think they would at least have developed some sort of survival instinct by now. As of now though, they look pretty intent on self-destruction. I’m sure Liberal strategists are rubbing their hands with glee right now. The Tories could do what few thought possible; give the Liberal party the appearance of integrity.