Why we will have a Spring election (con't from earlier thread)

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KenS

Ditto, I havent had time to finish or digest Wells' tome yet. But definitely required reading. It will also be interesting to ponder if the Cons facilitated this think piece coming out now.

As to Flaherty and Bachand, that smooths the way for an HST agreement after the election. Flaherty says that it still will not be in this Budget.

Now why might that be?

ottawaobserver

I don't think anybody (successfully) tells Paul Wells what to write, except possible for Ken Whyte.

Stockholm

It seems like a bit of a waste from the Tory perspective to unveil an HST deal with Quebec AFTER the election when it won't do them any good.

Could the Tories announce an HST agreement with Quebec during the election campaign itself and reap the political benefits from it - or are there rules that would make that impossible since once a writ is dropped, government virtually shuts down and becomes just a caretaker?

ottawaobserver

No government announcements of new spending during a campaign, I don't think. Political announcements dressed up as government announcements ... well, they'll certainly try it, and most people really don't get the difference anyways, so they'll probably get away with it.

KenS

What do you mean Stock that "announcing a HST deal after the election won't do them any good?" Its not optics and winning hearts we are talking about.

The Bloc has clearly indicated they would pass the Budget if it is in it now. And they would have every strategic reason to pass 2011 Budget II if it is there instead. Then Harper continues governing for at least 2 years. With the chance things may have turned more in their favour by then.

Stockholm

Before you get to 2011 Budget II, someone needs to pass a Throne Speech. Its true that the Tories could include the HST deal in a post-election Throne Speech. But what's to stop Ignatieff frokm promising to honour the same HST deal. Then the BQ can take the attitude that one way or the other - Quebec is going to gets $2 billion - but if they dump Harper and get the deal from the Liberals, they don't need to worry about being annhilated as a result of a Tory bill to end all public funding of political parties.

Besides, its a virtual certainty that Harper will run a scorched earth election campaign full of francophobic Quebec-bashing and dark threats about the dangers of dealing with treacherous separatists (sic.) - this will make it even more likely that Duceppe will want to get rid of Harper once and for all.

ottawaobserver

According to Jean Lapierre tonight on Don Martin, Duceppe has pretty well indicated that he's not supporting the budget, and that if he did it would not bode well for his bid to move to the PQ.

I have to say I'm inclined to believe that at this point in time.

Sean in Ottawa

Makes sense -- so all those calling the printers and making lawn signs are making the right move.

KenS

Duceppe has indicated he is not supporting the Budget, and doing so would not look good for jumping to the leadership of the PQ: "I have to say I'm inclined to believe that at this point in time."

But late in May, after the election, is a different point in time.

Duceppe has done more than 'indicate' he will not support the Budget. He couldnt be any more explicit. But he very recently also indicated he would support the Budget if it included the HST deal. His aspirations were the same then. What changed is that Flaherty said the deal will not be in the Budget. When the deal re-emerges for Budget 2011 II, the different point in time will have arrived.

Even if the PQ has put off its leadership review because of the election, making the deal in May will earn Duceppe supporters as well as detractors. And it would not anyway be decisive in a de facto PQ choice between him and Marois.

 

This question of whether or not the Conservatives are saving the 'ace' of the HST deal for after the election, does not bear directly on all the evidence of whether we are having an election now. The evidence of that is pretty compelling.

But in any of these situations there is always the possibility that at the last minute the government will read the wind and decide to not have an election. That should be even more true right now, since the government is very much at risk of losing power if it does not get a majority... the chances of which are low.

Having the ace held back 'just' explains why the government is quite ready to go to an election despite it being unlkely they will get a majority.

 

 

KenS

In negotiations for support of a minority government the Throne Speech and Budget votes are always a package deal.

In this case, since the rationale for the Bloc's support would be the HST deal [and more] in the Budget. So the optics would require them being announced in the the Throne Sppech. But that is routine when the Budgetimmediately follows.

JKR

All things being equal, there is no reason the BQ would be more likely to support the Conservatives over the NDP or Liberals. In negotiating with the other parties, the BQ will play all the parties off each other and settle for the best deal they can get. That's how things have worked in the many countries that have non-majoritarian systems. If this election, for the fourth time in a row, doesn't produce a majority party, Canada will likely join the growing club of countries led by governments established by post-election deals . It's very interesting that Canada, the UK and Australia have joined this club all at the same time. (Is there an underlying global phenomena furthering political pluralism?)

If the BQ holds the balance of power after the next election, Duceppe will be able to do his best impression of Monty Hall on Lets Make a Deal. If the NDP and Liberals are willing to go ahead with the BQ's HST demands, the BQ will up the ante and find another deal breaker. They will not favour Harper simply because he is PM. They will take the best deal available from whichever party is willing to offer it. Harper will have to outbid the NDP/Liberals if he wants to remain PM. If the NDP/Libs outbid Harper, Harper's reign will end.

Since all the parties are willing to meet the BQ's demands on the HST the HST will not decide who forms government, other conditions will be the deal breaker.

So what other things might the BQ demand that all the parties could not agree with and would determine who the BQ chooses to govern Canada?

- Taking the per vote grants elimination permanently off the table? If the Cons are unwilling, they lose power.

- Not allowing the government to call an election without a majority vote in the House of Commons?  Would all the parties agree to this or would only one side agree to it and obtain power?

- Enhancing equalization payments to have not provinces/Quebec?

-  ???

The BQ won't favour Harper over the other parties just because he is PM.  The BQ will take the best deal available. Harper does not have a monopoly on offering $ for the HST. If all the parties offer the BQ the same deal, the BQ will require more concessions to decide who governs. This is how it happens in the rest of the world and there is no reason to believe it won't happen here now that our parties have seen how non-majority situations are dealt with in the more-democratic world.

In post-election negotiating, the BQ will not take kindly to any party that offers them a donkey and a years supply of hay behind door #3.  For 5 years Harper and the Cons have done just that and that will not serve Harper well in post-election negotiating. Harper's duplicity in the past will likely put him at a disadvantage in post election negotiating as the BQ will be smart enough not to trust Harper who has played fast and loose with the rules for 5 long years.

(It's nice to see that at 89, Monty Hall is still alive and kicking.  According to his wiki page, the Order of Canada recipient just did a guest appearance on the latest version of Lets Make A Deal.)

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I expect if, after the next election,  Harper has more seats than the Liberals - even if it is just a few - he will raise royal hell if eiether the NDP or BQ (or both) support the Liberal leader as our new PM. I believe he said last time that the party with the most seats becomes the governing party. I suspect he'll fight tooth and nail at the slightest hint of a coalition being formed by the other parties. I suspect he coalition 'boogeyman' will be part of his campaign - didn't he fool almost everyone with this, last time around?

 

ps: sorry for bringing up the 'coalition' stuff again, I know we've done this to death already.Embarassed

JKR

If Harper can enforce the idea that the party with the plurality of seats automatically governs Canada, then Canada can no longer be considered a democracy. Democracy precludes minority rule. If the majority has to bow to the will of the minority, Canada is truly in a bad way.  That Harper has a chance of getting away with these undemocratic shenanigans says a lot about many Canadians and their general understanding of democracy.

If Harper raises hell about a coalition after the next election, the opposition should take that as a cue to implement electoral reform.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Great post, JKR. Thanks!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

From Macleans, August 18, 2010 (some of the comments following are priceless!):

 

Stephen Harper speaks to a Conservative BBQ in Ajax.

"If we have one duty to this country, it is to make sure a Liberal, NDP, Bloc Québécois coalition can never govern this country," Harper told a crowd of a few hundred at the Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility...

"The next election will be a choice between a coalition government of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois, or a stable Conservative majority government for this country," he said.

KenS

You are forgetting a small detail JKR. Its not only, or even mostly, about the Bloc getting the best deal for Quebec.

Its about the Bloc getting the best deal for the Bloc. The Bloc has one real mission: advancing soveriegnty. And what is good for the Bloc is good for that mission.

So the Bloc will go for the arrangement that is best for furthering the Bloc. The Bloc does well with Harper as PM. It works. And its not hard to figure out why. If the Bloc cuts a deal with the Libs and NDP it puts them in government. That could easily be a more popular government in Quebec. Not to metntion that it will be a less stable government when the Bloc is very likely going to be getting established under a new leader and therefore does not want an election.

The Bloc getting benies from the federal government, or prospective government, is the means to an end, not the end in itself.

JKR

If the BQ turns down a better deal offered by the NDP and Liberals to cynically prop up an unpopular government in Quebec, they will weaken the cause of sovereignty. They will leave themselves open to the accusation that they are not working for the betterment of Quebec but rather in the interest of their narrow political agenda. That they would be willing to to not act in Quebec's interests in order to further soveriegnty, something that may never happen, would not be appreciated in Quebec. The BQ has to be aware that many Quebecers would be able to see through such a duplicitous act. "We chose to turn down a better deal for Quebec made by the NDP and Libs in order to keep the Cons in power" will not be accepted in Quebec. Quebecers would react with disdain toward the BQ if they thought they were sabatoging Canada and working against the interests of Quebec in order to further the cause of sovereignty.

Any way you loook at it, if the BQ props up he Cons they will have to wear it as the Liberals have had to. If the BQ is seen as Con enablers, sovereignty as a whole will be discredited. The NDP and Liberals would be the long term winners if the BQ ends up being the Conservatives handmaidens. Once the BQ starts supporting the Cons they might have to prop up the Cons for four years as their is no guarantee the NDP and Liberals will ever during the next term. Four years of propping up the Cons would set back sovereignty and Duceppe's chances of ever leading the PQ.  If Duceppe wants to lead the PQ, he probably does not want to be saddled as the one who sold out Quebec in a cynical attemp to keep the unpopular Cons in power.

Personally, I think the BQ acts in good faith to further the interests of Quebec. And even if they don't, Quebecers expect them to.

Aristotleded24

Boom Boom wrote:

"The next election will be a choice between a coalition government of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois, or a stable Conservative majority government for this country," he said.

The NDP should take a page out of Tommy Douglas' book and respond by saying that the Conservatives won't say how bad the stable will smell.

KenS

JKR wrote:

Any way you loook at it, if the BQ props up he Cons they will have to wear it as the Liberals have had to. If the BQ is seen as Con enablers, sovereignty as a whole will be discredited. The NDP and Liberals would be the long term winners if the BQ ends up being the Conservatives handmaidens. Once the BQ starts supporting the Cons they might have to prop up the Cons for four years as their is no guarantee the NDP and Liberals will ever during the next term. Four years of propping up the Cons would set back sovereignty and Duceppe's chances of ever leading the PQ.  If Duceppe wants to lead the PQ, he probably does not want to be saddled as the one who sold out Quebec in a cynical attemp to keep the unpopular Cons in power.

Personally, I think the BQ acts in good faith to further the interests of Quebec. And even if they don't, Quebecers expect them to.

They do expect that. But they dont look through the same lens as you. The bulk of the Bloc coalition of voters have a pretty utilitarian view of what is good for Quebec- not to mention they arent necessarily sovereignists and therefore dont judge according to that at all. Voting for the HST harmonization is not going to get the Bloc seen as 'Cons enablers'. If it would, why did Duceppe give clear indication he would support the coming Budget when, until a couple weeks ago, it looked like that would be in the Budget?

The Bloc's left voters wont like it. But they are used to swallowing that stuff.

Nor are the Liberals  wearing with voters generally their propping up of Harper- for much longer even. The biggest impact with voters from having done that is the Liberals looking weak. They did enough harm to the Liberal brand, that they are still paying for looking weak. But they dont lose that many voters [who would otherwise vote for them] for actual distaste of supporting Harper. And the Bloc does not even have to concern themselves with looking weak.

And no way will the Bloc need to prop up the Conservatives indefinitely. Certainly not for 4 years. If they are getting a new leader established, as will probably be the case, a year will be fine. Presuming the Cons still need and want their support, thats easily done in the first year of a mandate. If they even need the Bloc, because the Liberals will not be ready for another election.

JKR

KenS wrote:
Voting for the HST harmonization is not going to get the Bloc seen as 'Cons enablers'. If it would, why did Duceppe give clear indication he would support the coming Budget when, until a couple weeks ago, it looked like that would be in the Budget?

Duceppe and the BQ support HST harmonization in the budget because their primary value is the interests of Quebec.  That's what gives the BQ so much credibility and that's why they are Quebec's #1 party. The BQ's fidelity to Quebec is not a scam to establish sovereignty.

If after the next election, the NDP and Liberals offer Quebec a better deal, Duceppe will support them because he and his party put the interests of Quebec first.  There's no reason to believe they would take an inferior offer from the Conservatives.

This whole debate seems silly to me. It's predicated on the belief that the Conservatives and Harper have an "ace in the hole".  The myth of Harper as being some kind of supernatural omniscient mastermind seems to have led people to believe that he is aways two steps ahead of everyone; that he holds all the cards, including 5 aces in the hole. Something tells me Emperor Harper has no cards.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Not only does Harper have no cards, after all his appeals in the past year to give him a majority government, none of the polls I've seen recently show Harper anywhere near majority territory - so, in a sense, the electorate is rejecting his message and appeal for majority status. I hope that continues to be the case!

Sean in Ottawa

This is essentially the problem with the BQ-- they have different rules and are promoting the interests exclusively of Quebec so even bad policy that inefficiently or unfairly moves resources from another part of Canada to Quebec will be supported by them when no other party could or would. In this role they can be bought by manipulators like Harper.

As much as I totally support the BQ being involved in governance because they are duly elected representatives of citizens who are not second class, I see the grain of truth in all the complaints about their involvement.

As a political party at the federal level-- they have declared the mother-load of a conflict of interest along with the fact that this conflict is their first priority over all other issues. While other parties are supposed to seek balance and national (Canadian) interest, they seek imbalance and a different national (Quebec) interest. You can't exclude them in governance and be democratic but to some degree any including of them is dysfunctional. This is the paradox.

Sean in Ottawa

 I should clarify that this "conflict of interest" is from the point of view of the rest of Canada-- there is no conflict for them. It is the conflict of interest created by ostensibly being a Federal Canadian MP operating with others in an institution with national purpose and not having that interest.

I seem to remember Levesque speaking about this and why he did not want a Federal party like the BQ.

KenS

There are people around here who think Harper is always two steps ahead, or that he stays ahead because all the opposition parties are way too easily conned. I'm not one of them.

Harper and Company are shrewd. Not especially shrewd, but certianly good enough. They do particularly well in playing the long game, and more particularly in setting things up in more than one direction. They are also continually undone by overplaying their hand- even after paying dearly as they did with the spectacularly stupid 'Budget Update' after the Fall 2008 election.

But what ever their strategic qualities, they are dealt a lot of good cards to play with. There is nothing remotely 'omniscient' in knowing a good hand when you see it.

As to the BQ- I never said that they play some scam. I said that the bulk of their voter base either likes or tolerates their utilitarian approach to federal budget politics. The Bloc does it regularly, and maintains their base. There is nothing special about this Budget go around- be that now, or jockeying for Budget II after the election. Which is why Duceppe as much as said he would support the Budget when [a whole two weeks ago] it looked like the HST hoarmonization would be in this Budget.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm curious - and I apologise for the thread drift - if new Senators all of a sudden after legislative changes were to be elected to the Senate - would the BQ run candidates??? I'm pretty sure the NDP would not, as they've said the Upper Chamber should be abolished. I think seeing the BQ in the Senate should be good for a chuckle or two.Laughing

KenS

Its not like the comparative ease of being able to buy support from the Bloc means they are more unprincipled.

They stick to their principles. They tend to be more progressive. Their stated policy is pretty progressive. And they tend to be visceraly opposed to the Conservatives. So all other things being equal, they will vote progressive and against the Conservative agenda.

But all other things are not equal. The sovereignist agenda comes first. And it is defined in much narrower terms than how it is seen by people around here... who read the soveriagnist agenda through the lens of the progressive policy agenda. That agenda is frankly expendable to the Bloc.

And like I said, the bulk of their voter base- all of their voter base that they need- approves of or tolerates this modus opernandi. While the part of the base that has the biggest problems with it is where the NDP is growing the most in Quebec, but there are compensations to the Bloc for that leakage.

Get used to it.

JKR

KenS wrote:

But the nature of the BQ gives the Conservatives a big fat trump for when they need it.

...

And then the Consrvatives still have the Bloc as possible dance partner. Because even if they are not afraid of an election, the BQ is open to deals.

I think it's a mistake to think the NDP is any less willing or able to dance with the BQ then the Conservatives are.

Going by their previous performance in Nov '08, Layton and Duceppe cut a mean rug on the dance floor. I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat performance after the next election.

KenS

The NDP has to be more disinclined to deals with the Conservatives. Compared to the BQ, it has a considerably harder time squaring any deal with its base and the positioning it takes.

This may not be so visible for Babblers, because they take the NDP's current amount of talk of willngness to deal too literally. But the NDP wants to and has to come away with more than the BQ will.

There are also just plain more strategic factors that bear on any of the Bloc's decisions of whether to support confidence votes. Because they are so intwined with Quebec politics that are the primary theatre. Withess how Duceppe's expected jump to the PQ plays into their current strategic considerations.

KenS

It is well understood that for the forseeable future the number of seats the BQ can be expected to get effectively blocks anyone getting a majority. And if someone, or governing combination of parties, does fluke into a majority, they are unlikely to repeat... so that the basic power dynamic will not change with a majority as much as people think.

What is less understood, or less talked about, is the long term role that the BQ plays in minority governance.

The Conservatives thought that they needed a majority. When it was clear that might never come, they adapted.

For the first 3 years it was governance through simple straight up bullying. They could count on the Liberals caving for anything. and even the Bloc for good measure for nearly 2 years. So they governed as if they had a majority, with the sole longer term game plan being to get that majority.

The aftermath of the 2008 election brought us into phase two of their minority governance. Stupidly overplaying their hand permanently changed the business of routine I dare you confidence votes. The Coalition did not have to succeed to change that: the possibility of a coalition was enough to end it.

So in phase two it is down to the normal tools of a minority government. Being who they are the Cons are inclined to use the tools differently. And they have the good fortune to face 3 major parties, one of them being the Bloc. Much is made of how 'the opposition is divided'. Well opposition parties are always divided. Its the nature of the beast. When they 'unite' to turf the government is always the special exception.

The Cons are blessed that it is 3 parties instead of 2. And since 2008 only having needed one of the other parties to clear each hurdle, that is just bound to create a lot of opportunities.

But the nature of the BQ gives the Conservatives a big fat trump for when they need it. Under normal conditions, one or more parties will not want an election, so it takes no great effort for the Cons to avoid the election they also do not want.... for the same reason they no longer use confidence votes to get their way.

Eventually, all the other parties are going to see an election as in their overall interest. And then the Consrvatives still have the Bloc as possible dance partner. Because even if they are not afraid of an election, the BQ is open to deals. And they are the most flexible, both as to what they want... and, crucially, flexible beause unlike the other parties, the Bloc voter base is amenable to deal making with anyone. 

 

I dont think this is the exitless box that it might appear to be. But I think it is important for people to understand the basic sustained strategic electoral politics dynamic we are in.

ottawaobserver

Why we will DEFINITELY have an election this spring:

Quote:

Pour les fans de citations hors-contexte, voici Michael Ignatieff: "there is no greater fan of lingerie than me."

citation

By way of background, the Libs raised the issue of Canada Post apparently selling lingerie online, and then d'oh realize that the leader is going to be scrummed on it, and then he comes up with the above.

The campaign is going to be one stumble after another, I predict. Bring it on.

Sean in Ottawa

ottawaobserver wrote:

Why we will DEFINITELY have an election this spring:

Quote:

Pour les fans de citations hors-contexte, voici Michael Ignatieff: "there is no greater fan of lingerie than me."

citation

By way of background, the Libs raised the issue of Canada Post apparently selling lingerie online, and then d'oh realize that the leader is going to be scrummed on it, and then he comes up with the above.

The campaign is going to be one stumble after another, I predict. Bring it on.

Oh, I love photoshop.

I suspect others do as well...

JKR

KenS wrote:

The NDP has to be more disinclined to deals with the Conservatives. Compared to the BQ, it has a considerably harder time squaring any deal with its base and the positioning it takes.

I'm not sure  what your point is here. Are you saying that the NDP has an inherently weaker position bargaining with the BQ after an election and before a throne speech then the Conservatives have bargaining with the BQ during that same time frame? I don't think that's the case. In the period after an election and before the throne speech, the NDP has as much scope as the Conservatives in bargaining with the BQ. This is especially true if the NDP and Liberals establish a common front after the next election and before a throne speech as they did after the '08 election. The fatal flaw in the NDP-Liberal association after the last election was that the parties allowed the throne speeech to pass before they decided to establish their common front. I don't think they will make that mistake again if another election doesn't produce a majority.

Because the Conservatives are currently the government, they currently have an infinitely stronger position bargaining with the BQ then the NDP does currently because as a government the Conservatives can offer the BQ tangible benefits while the NDP is currently in no position to do so. But this disparity between the Cons and NDP dissapears after an election and before a throne speech when no party gets a majority. In such a case, the Liberals and NDP are on an equal playing field with the Conservatives because the role of government is no longer held by the Conservatives but is up for grabs before the throne speech passes.

If the Cons don't use their ace card, the HST harmonization deal, before the election they will lose their ace after an election where no party has a majority because the opposition parties will then be able to offer the BQ the very same deal the Conservatives are able to. The fact that the Conservatives aren't using their ace shows that the Conservatives want to have an election and are prepared to let go of their ace card. They must be aware that their ace can be matched in the event they don't get a majority.

The pertinent question here is: who is in a stronger position to bargain with the BQ after an election where there is no majority and before a throne speech is approved, the Conservatives or NDP/Libs?

My answer to that question is, the NDP/Libs.

Because the NDP and Liberals are more inclined to expand the role of government then the Conservatives are, the NDP/Libs have an inherently stronger bargaining with the BQ then the Conservatives do.

This is why Harper himself believes that in all likelyhood his time as PM will be up if he can't get a majority next time around.  He's aware that the NDP and Libs have an ace they can use if the Conservatives don't get a majority.

KenS

JKR wrote:

If the Cons don't use their ace card, the HST harmonization deal, before the election they will lose their ace after an election where no party has a majority because the opposition parties will then be able to offer the BQ the very same deal the Conservatives are able to. The fact that the Conservatives aren't using their ace shows that the Conservatives want to have an election and are prepared to let go of their ace card. They must be aware that their ace can be matched in the event they don't get a majority.

In choosing among manouvers they can take, the goal of the Harper government is two-fold:

#1 Keep the reigns of government.

#2 If possible, get a majority.

They will not just go for getting a majority if there is a significant risk that the election outcome is that they will lose government. We know that they are short of government territory. They could make up the difference in a campaign. But that is risky, and they do fine advancing their agenda as a minority government.

Some argue they would want an election now because the conditions are more likely to get a majority than in October 2012. But that is a very weak argument. The same has been said for a while now. But Harper does the logical thing: stick with the bird in the hand, and work on getting a better window.

So they are not in majority territory, and if they get through this Budget, they are probably in until October 2012. And they can easily avoid an election by putting the Quebec HST deal into the Budget. They did not want to, so they want an election. We agree on that much.

But how do we explain that they want an election? You dont offer an explanation. Here is mine:

Up until after the 2008 election- prior to the Coalition scare- the Conservatives were always willing and eager to go into an election. Because they can try for a majority, and with good reason were not worried about losing government when they most likely failed at getting the majority. And for the icing on the cake: an election, with yet another one looming after that puts the financialy and organizationaly challenged Liberals under even more pressure. So elections are [were] great- whether or not the Cons met their goal of a majority.

The near-Coalition changed that. Ever since the Conservatives have had to be much more judicious about using an election as threat... like a minority government. And while they remained far more prepared for an election than the other parties- going into a election was no longer a good thing in its own right. Because without a majority, they likely will lose government.

Holding back the HST 'ace' gives the Cons a one time opportunity to go back to having an election being a good thing in its own right. The odds now of getting a majority are better than later, holding back the 'ace' covers them for the more likely failure of getting the majority, and the Liberals are well primed for some serious wounding. There is the drawback for going now of a shellacking in Quebec; but they may have to take those lums anyway, they will not make things in Quebec worse for themselves, and everything else looks good.

You keep saying that the 'ace' wont work because after the election the Liberals with NDP can offer the BQ as much or more to support them governing instead. I counter that it is considerably more in Duceppe and the Bloc's advantage to have the Cons in government, and that a Lib/NDP government might even be a threat. [After the 2008 election was different: the Conservatives were still the main threat to the BQ. Not to mention that back then Duceppe was not going anywhere.]

I further argue that the Bloc's voting coalition mostly approves of or tolerates deals with the Conservatives. And supporting a Throne Speech and Budget will at any rate be ancient history by the time an election comes, and no big deal for the short term dynamics.

It is of course not an air tight argument.

But we have yet to see an actual argument that the Conservatives want an election now simply because it is better than going later, and are willing to taking the chance that they are likely to lose government very soon.

ottawaobserver

OK, I'm following your argument a bit better now, Ken. But, and this depends on what might happen during the 2008 election, might not the Bloc also fear exposing their progressive flank post-EDay in the face of a stronger NDP in Quebec?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Four or five more years of a Con government with Harper at the helm. Yikes! 

Sean in Ottawa

OO- I think the NDP is not considered a great threat in Quebec. For the NDP getting 3 seats is exciting. Only the most optimistic of New Dems think they can do better than that -- at best. The BQ are not scared by potential NDP growth in Quebec. One reason is NDP growth may in fact split off some federal votes to their advantage in other seats. Assume the NDP gets 3 seats-- likely to do that there would be a rise in NDP support across many more. there are ridings the Liberals are only a hair behind and actually used to have those seats. If the NDP took away even 2% of the Liberal vote that might be enough to leave the seat in BQ hands.

The Liberals are weak but they are the threat until something more powerful comes along and stays awhile. In the short term the NDP offers a scenario whereby the Liberals make no recovery whatsoever. Further the NDP at the national level increase the potential for very fractured parliaments and that too is positive to the BQ's longer term interest.

Finally, the BQ support is holding up rather well and there is little reason for them to be scared of anything. If the NDP come in and take some 5-6 seats -- mostly from the BQ then you would expect a different attitude in the following election.

Sean in Ottawa

Ken's post looks fairly solid to me. I could add that the BQ card the Cons have does have a best before date and that the Cons have the significant motivation of damaging the Liberals at the centre of their strategizing. This is an incentive to go now.

The logic around the argument seems fine.

KenS

That could be OO- it remains to be seen. Right now, it looks to me like the Bloc could fairly easily weather it. After the election, the story is going to be about them and the PQ, and soveriegnty spanning the ideological  spectrum. They may not even have more than a secondary problem with leakage to the NDP. And even if they did, the Blo'cs competition with the NDP is secondary to the overall [primarily PQ] political positioning.

We shall see. The point right now, is that from the POV of what the Cons want, the odds of a post-election deal with the BQ if they need it are good enough that they can take chances with throwing the switch on an election that would otherwise be too risky for them.

And no BB- even if they do this, I dont think it means 4 or 5 more years of Cons government. It does increase the odds of it though, which is why they would go for this complex strategic choice.

KenS

Actually, even if the NDP makes somewhat or a lot more than expected inroads into Bloc support, the BQ still might see it as more in their interest to continue the Harper government rather than putting the Liberals and the NDP over the top into government.

Assuming the NDP has made significant gains in the election at their expense, which is worse for the Bloc:

** looking bad with progressive voters by supporting Harper?

** or watching the NDP in a governing role have its credibility boosted?

Babblers will be inclined to think the former is worse for the Bloc's partisan interests. But when it comes to the NDP, credibility as most progressivley inclined voters [outside the Babble bubble] see it.... has a great deal to do with 'tipping points' of whether leaners vote for the NDP or not.

And conversely, the Bloc's choice after the election is a win either way for the NDP's partisan interests.

So the impact on the Bloc's partisan interest from supporting the Conservatives is not as clear cut as it might seem- even if it is negative. Because the NDP looking better in Quebec would be an inevitable consequence of a governing profile that would come to the NDP if the Bloc supported the Libs/NDP after the election.

JKR

KenS wrote:

But we have yet to see an actual argument that the Conservatives want an election now simply because it is better than going later, and are willing to taking the chance that they are likely to lose government very soon.

I think it makes sense that the Conservatives want to go for a spring election even if it is risky. The political landscape in 2012 will likely be worse for the Conservatives because of the likely changes in Ontario's provincial political scene.  In Ontario the PC's have a very good chance of winning the Oct 2011 election. If that happens they are expected to unleash huge cuts. Hudak will want to get the most unpopular aspects of his program over with as early in his mandate as possible. This makes political sense for Hudak but it comes at the worst time for Harper. The last thing Harper wants is to have an election 1 year into a slash and burn Hudak administration. The Cons political survival is completely dependent on Ontario so the Conservatives want to keep the federal election cycle closely aligned to the Ontario cycle in the most advantageous way. As Hudak's term goes on, the PC's will try to get more and more popular as they get closer to Ontario's 2015 election date. If Harper calls an election this spring he will be able to allign the federal election cycle as closely to the Ontario election cycle to be as advantageous to his party as possible.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

ottawaobserver wrote:

Why we will DEFINITELY have an election this spring:

 

Jack Layton spoke at the Toronto & York Region Labour Council tonight and it was most definitely a pre-election "rally the troops" type of speech.

He touched on housing, pensions, childcare, the green economy and anti-scab legislation.

NorthReport

I'm calling for an election in 2012. Harper is no fool, and without his majority he's toast.

And you don't seriously expect the Liberals to vote to defeat the gov't, do you?  Liberals may be stupid but they don't have a death wish.

ottawaobserver

Someone also pointed out, I forget where, that the fall of 2012 will also be the US presidential election. Recall during the last election, Harper did not fare well in comparison with Obama, and this time may not want the echoes of any comparison with US Republicans. It's an extra risk factor, to be sure.

KenS

Its not now or October 2012. If that looks bad, he can engineer an election over Budget 2012.

We're not having an election earlier soley because it is probably a better time for Harper to beat the strong odds against achieving a majority that he needs to keep from losing government. The odds right now are known: the odds of winning a majority are low. A year from now, there is a chance of changing the conditions or getting lucky. Waiting a year, even knowing economic conditions are more likely to not look any better or look a little worse, means another year of governing, and another year to change the political landscape or  just have things go your way.

"Slightly better" odds if you have an election right now are not good enough. What is required is good odds for getting a majority- period. Otherwise, you wait.

Unless of course, Harper has "some reason"- something that will be in play right now- which means he can expect to keep governing even in the likely event they fail to get a majority.

ottawaobserver

The only time Harper makes an issue of his breaking the fixed election date law is if he engineers an election six months before he was scheduled to go. If he waits until the fall of 2012, and wins a majority, then they are doomed to going every four years at the same time as the US election. Probably the same is true if he goes in the spring of 2012. I don't think they want that.

KenS

I think my general point still stands:

Harper isnt going now just because there is not a better time. The odds are against getting a majority right now. So unless this is the best time for maintaining government even without a majority, then the Conservatives will wait for better conditions. [And as we know well, they never simply 'wait'.]

If October 2012 is a really bad time, they still have another time of their choosing. I think that even 6 months before the fixed election date, it is quite feasible to make sure there is an election over the budget, with the perceived responsibility for the election spread around- as it is right now.

And regardless of whether that is true, another time of their choosing in the next 18 months is better than now- unless now is a good time.... not merely "it looks worse later, so it will be now".

And I offered an explanation of why now is a very good time for them.

NorthReport

With border deal, Harper nails down key election plank

 

 

And Mr. Harper knows he's putting Michael Ignatieff in a tough spot. The Liberal Leader must either (a) oppose the talks, and risk driving away voters in southern Ontario where the economy stands or falls on trade with the United States; (b) support them, and give up hope of wooing voters away from the NDP; or (c) refuse to commit until we know the specifics, and look weak.

 

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/with-border...

Lens Solution

ottawaobserver wrote:

According to Jean Lapierre tonight on Don Martin, Duceppe has pretty well indicated that he's not supporting the budget, and that if he did it would not bode well for his bid to move to the PQ.

I have to say I'm inclined to believe that at this point in time.

Is there any evidence that Duceppe is actually interested in running for the PQ?  I thought he was planning to retire after he stepped down as BQ leader.  After each federal election, the Quebec journalists say that Duceppe has been in politics a long time and is ready to retire to private life.

And there isn't even an opening in the PQ right now that I can see.  Pauline Marois has the leadership and I assume she will keep it until at least the next Quebec election since she has a good chance of becoming Premier.

JKR
KenS

Indictations are the Budget will be tabled late March. Which means we have over two months until the vote, and the writ dropping if as expected the Budget fails.

But as always in these situations leading up to a window- in that time the government does it's polling and can send the train off of that track. In this case, the means to do that would be Flaherty pulling out of the hat the HST deal which supposedly could not be negotiated in time.

We were in this situation last year, with Harper's 'Prorogue II' gambit. Same ballot question even- although it was newer then. The prorogue was so the government could change the channel away from what was going on in the House and shift it to 'we're the ones keeping the economy healthy- who do you want, us or the Three Stooges'.

The intention was to move voters enough to set the stage for going from the status quo to the Cons being firmly in majority territory. A majority being merely possible was no longer enough. The initiating of the governments charm offensive began right after the announcement of the prorogue. And had several weeks to watch and poll to see if voters moved on the questions that mattered.

As it turned out, Canadians reacted to the prorogue gambit much more than expected. Which eliminated the chance t change the channel. So that train never even got started, and there was never any talk of an election.

This time that train is well under way. And I think that holding that HST deal card means that the government will only change their minds if there is a surprise shift that shows they are headed for a disaster. [And where would that come from in several weeks?] Because they hold that card means that this time, a most likely election outcome of no better than status quo will be good enough for them to go ahead with the election.

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