How ’bout them fixed election dates, eh?


MARKETS-EUROPE-STOCKS/FALLStephen Harper and Jean Charest have to be glad they got their respective re-elections settled before the worst of the recession kicked in. If recent polls are any indication, both men appear to have dodged a bullet by going into elections late last year instead of waiting for the opposition parties to force them into one.

With the economy tanking Quebeckers, are in no mood for politics (and the politicians who play them). Support for Harper and the Conservatives is way, way down in the province according to two recent polls. This Strategic Counsel survey put the Tories’ popularity at a dismal 10 per cent and this Ipsos Reid poll puts it at a marginally better, but far from respectable, 16 per cent.

Despite cruising to a majority government just a few months ago, Charest isn’t faring much better in his home province. His government was never very popular to begin with, but he’d managed to get his approval ratings up above 50 per cent for the better part of 2008. But now, with the Caisse de dépôt’s losses hanging over his government like a bad stench, his numbers are back down to 38 per cent.

Recall that, in Harper’s own words during the last election campaign, there was no recession to speak of in Canada last fall. And as for Charest and the Caisse, people could only speculate about the amount of money the fund would end up losing. That is to say, neither election was fought on the issue that would come to dominate the early part of their government’s mandate. As Adam Radwanski points out over at The Globe, if ever there was a case to be made for fixed election dates, either of these two would suffice.


How ’bout them fixed election dates, eh?

  1. Those polls aren’t worth the poop that Professor Puffin has been trying to hide.

    The same polling companies predicted that former PM Paul Martin would win the largest majority in Canadian history and that before the last election that Dion would get at least a minority, heh.

    There’s only one poll that counts and that on the day of an election.

    • But it took a dubious press release by the RCMP, that proved to be assuredly politically motivated, to knock Martin out of office. I don’t recall anything but a single poll that put the Liberals ahead of Harper and that was not at the last election. So your post is just like the polls — totally unreliable and all about trumpeting some unproven elapsed second in time. Goodnight.

      • Martin knocked himself out of office well before by his own hand and I said before the last election not at.

        The Liberals are too broke, financially and morally to even entertain running an election anytime soon.

        These push polls are put out in order to try to motivate the Liberal sheeple to open up their wallets/purses and pry some money from their grubby little hands to actually donate something to their own party.

        • Exactly!

          Say “poop” again, Bruce.

        • much as i disliked Martin he’d never be stupid enough to put is in deficit. and, let’s not forget, he had a public inquiry concerning a situation that might have harmed his own party politically. he was open and transparent at least.

          we have a bigger fail of @ least $13B gone!–not to mention the future of our children pi$$ed away to debt on top of debt to the tune of about $84B. $200 million is pennies compared to that!

      • do you notice the public institutions being used by the conservs to further their political *fortunes*?
        the RCMP, Bank of Canada Prez b4 he was prez, Elections Canada (rules changed just b4 the 2008 election; in and out $-laundering scheme in the prior election); and public servants (Keen, scientists e.g.) pushed out of their jobs.

        if you believed the polls in the last election the conservs were set to win a majority; they got approx. half of that support (you can’t claim even plausible minority with 35% of 58.8% of ballots cast). those polls are more like “brand recognition” than predictors of how ppl will vote.

        releasing a platform after advanced polls and the Duffy attack on Dion was what helped the conservs in the end. pretty nasty stuff.

  2. To question the accuracy of the polls is one thing—and it’s completely legitimate to be skeptical. But considering Charest’s governement is down about 20 points in approval ratings, and the Tories have apparently shed about half their support, can anyone really say either government is just as popular as it was when they went into elections? What I’m getting at is that it doesn’t really matter whether Harper is at 10, 12, 15 or 17 per cent, or whether Charest’s approval ratings are at 25, 30, or even 40 per cent. Neither is where they once were and, in both cases, it’s because of a predictable issue both leaders purposely avoided having to campaign on.

    • While there’s always been the ability to exploit the dropping of the writ for optimum election success, I expect paties would simply play shell games of a different sort in the context of fixed elections (there’s a fair bit of room for the governing party to delay reports, hide budget deficits, etc.)

  3. To get back to what was actually the topic of the post – fixed election dates – I’m agin it, at least in a Parliamentary system.

    In essence we had a fixed election date – no parliament could go without election longer than five years from the previous election date.

    What needed (and obviously still needs) to be curtailed is the power of the Prime Minister to arbitraily pick when that election will be before those five years are up. However, the solution to that is not a fixed date at four years instead of five. Rather, it is setting limits and prescribing rules as to when and how the Prime Minister can request an election before the five year limit. Tradition, government inertia and public antsiness will tend towards the four year time line anyway.

    Obvioulsy a government falling on a motion of non-confidence is another kettle of fish. There are already rules and traditions that cover that situation. Although a very dangerous precedent was recently set where a Primie Minister can apparently avoid a vote of non-confidence by shutting Parliament down.

    • RESPECT.

  4. Jean Charest for leader of the Conservatives!!! (federally!!)
    Endorsements, begin.

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