2012 came a little early this year

So apparently we’re going to have an election. Paul Wells has your primer.


So apparently we’re going to have an election. Here’s your primer.

In the past seven weeks we have run substantial new profiles of three of the national party leaders. John Geddes and I produced a very long retrospective of Stephen Harper’s years in power here. I explained why Michael Ignatieff had actually become eager to face the electorate here. John profiled Jack Layton, posing a question about the New Democrat’s nerve that has since been answered, here.

I have remarked for more than two years on Stephen Harper’s eagerness to frame this election as a choice between a Conservative majority and an opposition coalition. Even today, the Conservatives were circulating talking points saying the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have “united once again as a Coalition.” My best attempt to explain this choice by Harper appeared six months ago here.

Andrew Coyne got very angry at the Conservatives, here. Then he got very angry at the Liberals, here. He proposed a new political party here.

I like to be surprised by the way a campaign begins. I haven’t the faintest idea how this one will end. We’ll have some fun.


2012 came a little early this year

  1. I think this election needs it's own signature cocktail.

  2. Please no Elizabeth May in the debates. She's shrill, she won't win a seat and she wants us all to drive sail powered cars and eat macrobiotic food.

  3. This could be the definitive election of this post-Chretien/Martin era. Unless of course we end up exactly where we are now, which seems likely.

  4. Team 2012 still a possibility, but with different actors. Keep the dream alive, Inkless.

  5. Winter blues….Spring election….Summer recess….Fall sitting….round, round we go.

    What would these politician's do without tax money?

  6. Ladies and gentlemen, we see above a preview of the tone of the upcoming campaign. Or am I being overly cynical?

  7. What I find interesting about what's shaping up is this: in terms of probabilities, statistically the most likely result of this campaign (unless voting preferences significantly shift) is that we will end up with the same result we have now: CPC minority. Which is the same result that we got the last two elections. I wonder whether the electorate, sensing that, just might collectively at some point decide to steer the car into the ditch, to steal a metaphor from Neil Young. Will the electorate sort of collectively decide that it's sick and tired of this circus and decide to do something, anything, to change the channel?

  8. WooHoo!

    Coalition-crushing, privilege-pissing, contempt-of-whatever-I-please, the-hell-with-ATI, parliament-can-get-stuffed, ethics-are-for-the-weak, accountability-be-damned, majority-for-life here we come.

  9. i am doing my happy dance THE LAST OF THE BIG TIME SPENDERS cannot spend another dollar! THE END GAME FOR HARPER IS OVER at least for now. as for the tough on crime party courts are a GAME..win some lose some..if they had courage they could have given quebec 4.3 like they gave ontario..as as senior they gave to lil to late ..besides i don't believe a word they say . <a href="http:// .http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=292671928599&topic=16050“ target=”_blank”> <a href="http://.http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=292671928599&topic=16050” target=”_blank”>.http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=292671928599&topic=16050

  10. One poll is never good to read.

    But if you put em all together over the past few weeks, it appears the CPC will make gains.

    And if you look at the larger sample polls, they all point to CPC gains in two regions: Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

    The easy money is on betting the CPC gaining seats.

    A fairly good bet is the CPC gets a majority.

    An extremely long shot is the Libs gain power.

    A near impossibility is the Libs gain a majority.

    Any way you slice it, you'd rather be in Harper's shoes than Iggy's.

    By a long shot.

  11. How would you like your crow served? ;-)

    Yes, it's going to be an interesting one.

  12. Not this again.

  13. As much as I dislike replying to you, good cashola might still be made on CPC losing seats. And even money after imploding after Harper leaves, leaving an ugly field of candidates.

  14. I wonder if Mr. Wells could speculate as to what extent Iggy and the Liberals may have been caught flat footed by this.

  15. ya, but last time she provoked Harper into saying "TAR sands" instead of the preferred moniker to market Mordor !
    for that alone she should be back! http://catch22campaign.ca/

  16. Let me guess – like give Harper a majority?

  17. "Andrew Coyne got very angry at the Conservatives, here. Then he got very angry at the Liberals, here. He proposed a new political party here."

    Then Coyne tweeted "Nothing has changed by substituting the Tories for the Liberals. And nothing would change by substituting the Liberals for the Tories."

    …and while I sympathize with the cynicism and despair behind that comment, I think Stephen Harper himself could have written it and would be thrilled to see it in the public discourse. Cynicism and apathy work in his favour, after all.

  18. "Any way you slice it, you'd rather be in Harper's shoes than Iggy's."

    I dunno – I think the smell of sulphur would get to me after a while.

  19. The real loser of course will be on the credibility of the Ottawa/Toronto political media elites.

    Who once again appeared completely out of touch, entombed in their lock-step, hyperpartisan echo chamber.

    Each "scandal" became bigger and bigger…in their collective minds that is.

    Memo to the media: if you have to argue ad nauseum why something is a "scandal" it isn't one.

    By their very nature true scandals are self evident. We know them when we see them. This stuff we've seen of late, was agenda journalism.

  20. The ones I talked to were working very hard on an election plan for many weeks. Platform formatted and ready to print. Senior Ignatieff staffers visited a few Ottawa news bureaus (not ours, but then we didn't ask) this week to brief journalists on their campaign plan. That's not the same as actually believing an election would happen. I think they were probably very surprised. But they have a plan and they will now set about implementing it.

  21. Probably not one iota.

  22. Better yet: Bloc minority government.

  23. Yes, chet we really should let the government of the day decree what is and is not a scandal.

  24. Thank you for your prompt and considered reply.

  25. I remember someone writing (maybe you Mr. Wells) that the Liberals had two election strategy for defeating the Conservatives. Seems like the most optimistic outcome for the Liberals at this point (of course the campaign could change things) is to get over a hundred seats or at least awfully close to a hundred.

  26. Hey, Liberals have to hope for something, don't they?

  27. Or boot him out.

  28. Date 22-year old escorts?

  29. Having lived through two governments reduced to two seats, I believe anything is possible.

  30. Some changes from last time around:

    1. the scandals give the opposition ammunition
    2. the coalition crisis and frame gives the cons ammunition.
    3. Crazysabeth May isn't getting into the debates this time, lessening her influence.
    4. Layton is in no shape to campaig effectively.

    Stats are one thing.

  31. Bear in mind, I didn't say this was an exact replay of the last time around. Of course lots of things are different. All I said was that, statistically speaking, in light of the polling (considered cumulatively), the most likely result is what we have now, a CPC minority. But I always find interesting those campaigns where all of a sudden momentum breaks one way or another for one side. It's difficult for me to judge how ordinary, apolitical swing voters are going to react to this situation because, like so many on here, I'm a political junkie. It seems to me that there are two important "camps" of swing voters in this upcoming election, #1, classic swing voters who are decidedly apolitical and non-aligned and who might vote for just about any party under the right conditions, and #2, left-leaning voters who would possibly vote Liberal, NDP or Green (and in that sense, Anybody-But-Harper voters who are looking for the most effective place to park their vote).

  32. The weakness of Layton and the non-presence of May may change the intentions of those left-leaning swing voters. Who knows?

    The classic swing voters may be a factor as well, depending on how well the Liberals spin the procedural scandals of the last few weeks.

    But I also think there's a third factor – the "libertarian" conservative voters who are fed up with Harper. A friend of mine recently talked about how he's completely sick of Harper, and the last straw was the CRTC decision. Maybe some Conservative support stays home?

  33. No, you're being (mostly) civil.

  34. I think Wells' rules hold true here – at some point in the last few weeks, an election became the least interesting (or least surprising) outcome.

  35. My two favourite points on Twitter about #Team2012:

    1) The Mayans will be glad to get the #Team2012 hashtag back.

    2) There could still be an election in 2012 (i.e. after the 2011 election…. shudder….).

  36. Nanos says the undecided number is up which he says indicates a shift.

  37. Do you suppose Harper would be as pleased with that line if it were framed: "Nothing has changed by substituting Harper for Martin. And nothing would change by substituting Ignatieff for Harper."?

  38. She isn't 'shrill'….she's female. Get over it.

  39. So, if Wells and Coyne say so, then it must be on—besides, other then Spring mud, and Easter bunnies and Royal weddings, what else is there to do in April but campaign ?

    I am no fan of the NDP, but I think they stand a good chance of increasing their vote percentage. There are many reasons why people vote the way they do—-Jack is hurting these days and a lot of folks identify with his situation.

  40. Femaleness doesn't preclude shrillness.

  41. Paul and Andrew, your prediction hasn't been lost yet. It remains to be seen if all the opposition parties want to go ahead with this. I don't think the public will want to discuss the so-called 'ethics' issues, for they can't tell how the Liberals would be any better on that front, if not worse.

    I'm not convinced yet that an election is the only option.

  42. How will the Liberal party explain to the voter that they hold the Conservative government in contempt for not providing enough documentation, while the Liberal won't even take a day or two to go through the budget numbers to see if they would support it?

    Who, tell us who, is to be held in contempt here??

  43. Male politicians are never said to be 'shrill'.

    ALL female politicians are said to be shrill.

    It definitely has to do with gender…and sexism

  44. Pat Martin is shrill.


  45. Cats belong in a box.

    E. Schrödinger

    Behind an iron curtain apparently.

  46. Stephan Dion was most definitely shrill.

  47. No, he is Quebecois and the unwashed masses couldn't understand him

    Mind you, they didn't try.

  48. I don't want to hear what Wells, Coyne and Geddes had to say here or there; I want the real story covered as it unfolds.

    And the questions coming out of today's events would be:

    Wells, why were the opposition parties so eager to condemn the budget, in some cases when Flaherty was still delivering his budget and in another case just minutes after Flaherty was done speaking? Could it have anything to do with politicians going insane by media pressure?

    Coyne, why should we trust the Liberals in delivering a verdict of contempt to the Tories, if the Liberals themselves do not take the time needed to read through the budget? What does contempt mean these days (and we expect more than just a look up in the dictionary)?

    Geddes, why does veteran MP Brison not understand that the cost for new fighter planes will be covered within the DOD overal budget?

  49. They had their own indivvidual briefing this morning. They knew as much as the press did by the time Flaherty delivered the budget.

  50. Even today, the Conservatives were circulating talking points saying the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have “united once again as a Coalition.”

    I got push polled last night on this as well. It's fun when you take a survey in which every question is leading and there's no middle ground.

    "After the next election, do you think:

    There will be a Conservative Majority

    The Liberal/Bloc/NDP coalition will take power"

    "Err, what if the Liberals win majority?"

    "Yes, they'll lead a coalition government then"


  51. My list of demands.
    Get someone to cover the NDP. Someone other than liberal wherry and feschuk. probably Coyne, be interesting. Wells you can still cover conservatives. Or you should try and switch things up. Have feschuk boost for conservatives, you on the greens, colby ndp. wherry on the libertarians.. or bloq quebecois or something, A farce but it could allow for some better critical writing. I'm tired of harper and by extension your thesis. Also wherry's tropes, and feschuk's bitterness.

    What I'd like to know,
    What is going on with the jets? will the liberals actually cancel the order, NDP will see it through? (I don't want it cancelled, scared of bid cancellation fees need more details, don't mind having best planes money can buy. Did the US twist our arm like brazil in wikileaks or is the 30 billion not such a bad deal anyway.

    What is going on with the EU trade deal? Do the dairy farmers actually have this much power, that they've been screwing us for decades, or are they a bugaboo? If so how.

    Cynics guide to voting, infographic, the parties all know which 'interest group' you belong to, do you? The guide for the selfish voter. paired with the idealists guide to voting, The superhidden agendas of the political parties. What canada would you like to be.

    In the idealists half you could cover all of the stuff that the 'typical' canadian isn't interested in. Canada's diminished diplomatic ability T/F, The canadian federation's economic union. A signed constitution, for this great dominion thing. The monarchy thank you Elizabeth, but when you go, we go: succession, republic or new blood, could make a first nations member our monarch.
    You could even survey the academic field for new ideologies, prophet Fukuyama or unimaginative world.

    Wish list
    Which party has the least amount of poli sci grads in it? I would like to vote for it. Least obnoxious staffers of the future pmo, which leader's people will offend you least.

    Don't care about, political interaction of federal/provincial parties, unless scandal/corruption etc. But would like you to keep an eye out for future leaders, mildly mildly, predicting liberal minority, prop by ndp, new leadership conservatives, then liberals. But could be a landslide somewhere I'm feeling bifurcation coming on/, all the parties are essentially identical, minus tactics. Looking forward to this election, and platforms! Potentially the conservatives will need one this election without Dion as an opponent.

    Could do an article on Peter McKay, the restruction of canada's navy shipbuilding, capability.
    Also a wtf on alberta's health care, leading to the private-care public-insurance not if, when editorial.

  52. Exactly.

    November of 2012 would be 18 months, not so bad for a minority government.

    But best of all Coyne and Wells could say "We were right!"

  53. changes since the Oct 2008 election:

    -Danny is gone, no ABC
    -Charest does not have the clout he did have in 2008 if he again campaigns against Harper, and he isn't looking to win a majority in a few short months
    -Ontarians are not too happy with tax and spend McGuinty, it may rub off on the feds
    -then there is the biggy, a redo of the coalition of losers, Bloc veto and Dippers in cabinet with an unpopular Lib leader

    Libs say Bruce Carson, Cons say Adscam
    Libs say contempt, Cons say 'the coalition fix was in'

    Lapierre said there is a book coming out March 30 on
    Adscam: Why Liberal Ministers Didn't Go To Jail
    (I'm not making that up, said Monday on Power Play)

  54. …the cost for new fighter planes will be covered within the DOD overal budget?

    I understand the distinction that you are making, but how does that really matter – without that commitment the government would have an extra X billion dollars that could be allocated elsewhere. Debt repayments, anyone?

    In the big picture I do agree with your call for greater accuracy and precision in speech, from all parties.

  55. What is going on with the EU trade deal? Do the dairy farmers actually have this much power, that they've been screwing us for decades, or are they a bugaboo? If so how.

    No, edeast, it goes something like this;

    the quota system does not really make the milk bought in stores that much more expensive.
    the quota system does restrict Canadian possibilities in international trade negotiations
    the quota system in Europe is slowly being dismantled (five more years left, I believe)
    the quota system is so expensive that entering into the dairy farming in Canada is next to impossible if one is not invested in a dairy farm already, or one could enter the industry if one would have lots and lots of money, but if the banks suspect that the quota system is going to be dismantled they will not borrow on the investment of quota needed for milk production – difficult position to be in


    the quota system in Canada will not be dismantled as long as Quebec politics are decisive as they are now within Canadian politics.

    Why? Because Quebec has the biggest share of the quota (always had had) and the Quebec farm, in comparison to other regions, are outdated percentage wise and so if the dairy industry would have to do without regulated prices on milk, the Quebec dairy farmer would most likely be effected negatively, while more modern farms across the country could, if the quota system would be phased out gradually, be able to survive and even bloom……….

    So, ask the politician why Quebec's power needs to reach that far. But don't expect an answer untill Harper has his majority. Mr.Coyne may understand………………..

  56. Yep thanks, but their should be more granularity within quebec even on this issue, they most likely want free trade with europe as well. What are the details of how the quebec dairy influence is actually asserted, or is it a general fear. ie. Do they fund candidates, parties.

  57. *there

  58. Well, on CPAC tonight, Brison was argueing that cost for the planes would leave less for social programming. He was stating that social services would have to be drastically cut in order to pay for the planes., whereas the cost for the planes will have to be figured within overal DOD budget, meaning that DOD itself has to make priorities. There is a difference. And Brison should not lead the voter on by setting things in a wrong perspective. Federal finances are complicated enough as they are, and I find it dishonest coming from the Liberals to confuse us on those issues if they are the ones wanting the Conservatives not to be confusing………………..see the picture unfolding???


    You knew it was coming…

  60. And so the opposition parties couldn't have waited a day???? Nonsense. It's all one big gong show.

    Perhaps a few years from now, they will be able to defeat the budget before it's been presented, by the push of things……..

  61. I always say I expect a Rhino majority.

  62. So you're suggesting that we look to a scandal where the government of the day got thrown out as the appropriate direction when we point out a scandal of the government of today?

    I'm with you there.

  63. "Male politicians are never said to be 'shrill'.

    ALL female politicians are said to be shrill. "

    2 male politicians were just called shrill.

    I'll name a woman i've never heard called shrill:: Leona Aglukkaq

    Proving Emily wrong is a full time job Cats !

  64. I don't know if they fund parties, but who needs that if any outcry from Quebec is being treated as if it's always serious.

    Take the mad cow compensation, for instance. The beef producers were effected, really, for their income took a bit hit at the cattle market, and they were to be compensated The dairy farmers were not effected at all, and were not really asking to be compensated for the drop in cattle prices. And besides, dairy cattle export/import is very, very small. Yet, it was the Quebec dairy farmer who whined about getting compensation for old dairy cows which always go to market upon a certain age, and so the sale of old dairy cows was then subsidized for all dairy farmers across the country because the government could not just compensate Quebec's clean up of old dairy cows. Huge unnecessary expense which was not needed, nor was it expected by the dairy industry, but they got it because Quebec had demanded it, unsubstantiated. (I'm not talking about cows which were effected by the disease as such, very few were, but the borders closed, etc, and the price for beef at markets had dropped. Devastating for beef farmers, for sure, but not really for the dairy industry).

  65. Cats belong in a box.

    E. Schrödinger

    A padded one, apparently.

  66. And so, the Canadian Dairy Association will, at first, stand solidly behind the Quebec industry for wanting to keep the quota system in place, but if push came to shove, if the dairy farmers were to have a new ruling imposed on them, they could survive. Even expand in very meaningful ways, for don't forget, because now the Canadian dairy farmer is restricting production as well, and they know it…………

  67. Quebec probably would want free or better trade possibilities with Europe as well, I can't see why not.

    But, as we all know by now, Quebec wants to have its cake and eat it too. So, for them the logic goes like this:

    Don't expect us to give up the quota system. Don't do that to the province of Quebec!!

    And if the feds can't move ahead enough in trade negotiations with Europe, than Quebec will blame the feds for that as well.

    It's considered logical reasoning inside Quebec. But you knew that, right?

  68. I can agree that Brison's wording is not as accurate as it could or should be – he seems to be intentionally oversimplifying the process that would have to occur to reduce or eliminate funding for the jets and move that funding over to his preferred target (social programs).

    But certainly you can agree that it is easily within the ability of the federal government to create a budget that reduces the DoD budget by X billion over Y years and then allocates that amount of money to social transfers to the provinces. The CPC has chosen to purchase those jets, and they have made sure that the DoD budget has enough money to fund that purchase, and they have chosen to not shift that amount of money towards social programs.

    So, yes, it would be great if ALL politicians would be more accurate, less disingenuous with their words. It would have been great if Brison could lead by example – apparently he can't or won't. Hopefully someone in the CPC could show Brison how it should be done.

  69. Yeah, we could shift all of the DOD finance over to social programming and have no military left. That's one option, but I do think the Canadian voter should be consulted if such shift were to take place.

    But my point is this:

    How dare the Liberals hold the Conservative party in contempt of Parliament, if the Liberals themselves, all day long, throw around figures, all over the place, do not take a carefull look at the budget.

    How long do you think the Liberal pot will manage to call the kettle black?

    Isn't the contempt of parliament not all about being accurate and forthcoming? Now the Liberals seem to say it is just fine to bamboozle the Canadian voter when speaking outside the House? It may work for you, but it doesn't work for me.

  70. Thing was, there was no option. It was either one or the other. You should've heard the mental gears grinding on the other end of the line when the pollster ran off the 4 "major" local parties, asked which one I was voting for, and my response was: "none of them"

    "But… you are voting?"

    "Yes. For a candidate from any other party but the above. At random."

    Although, I must admit I used to vote Progressive Canadian just for giggles. Sadly, they stopped fielding candidates here last time.

  71. I heard about the upcoming book on CPAC tonight. One of the callers mentioned it. We will find out soon enough.

    I'm not sure we're heading for an election. An unexpected flu season may bite into Liberal noses held up a tad too high…………… :) The House may not be full come voting time.

    (Sure hope there will be enough room for standing behind the House curtains. Sure, Derek Lee will make room for all of them!)

  72. I would honestly kill to see this. I can just imagine the chaos as the other three parties trip over each other trying to rationalize working together after the last few years.

  73. That would be a rather expensive pair of smug smiles, though…

  74. Actually I looked back and it's not the farmers who are holding up this deal, but the conservatives are threatening to walk, based on capped EU imports of oil from Athabasca, so maybe the conservatives aren't the best party to ride point on this.
    Would be best if EU took the oil, but I would prefer an EU trade deal with capped oil imports, to no trade deal and capped oil imports. Also of concern to me, was NDP & Liberals, voting for an ecological seige around Prince Rupert to prevent selling our oil to China. Koch brothers funded some conservation groups to press for it.

  75. Further to this, and to put it in the simplest terms possible:

    We are operating on a deficit. To curb the deficit cuts will be necessary. If cuts are not made to the cost of procuring jets they will be need to be made elsewhere. Social programs are a likely target.

    I don't particularly agree with the above argument, not that it couldn't be true – it just isn't necessarily so. On the other hand it is absolutely clear that issues like renegotiating health care in the coming years, and in that process taking account of the aging population will require future spending. Any big ticket items that produce long-term obligations of this size directly compete with this need unless taxes are increased instead.

  76. What a demonstration your provide that the Harper Government has no concern about the finances of the country.

    From a surplus to the biggest deficit – but you don't realize is has happened, why and how to fix it.

  77. All Western countries' went into the red during the greatest recession in a generation. When the economy slows taxes (a percentage of revenues) goes down. Less revenue, means….less revenue for the government.

    Which is why the only way to judge Harper in such a worldwide economic downturn, is to compare his government to others at the time. A comparison many on the international stage have done of late. And the unanimous conclusion is Harper's government is literally the best in the world at dealing with the recession.

    The best.

    So, please. Do keep talking about Canada's deficit.

  78. Smallest deficit in the G-7

  79. A coalition made up entirely of Liberals! The nightmare scenario!

  80. why do you hate poll clerks and returning officers?


  81. any westbound fossil fuels moving by pipeline would likely exit at Kitimat (shorter pipe), Prince Rupert would only be used if CN runs a "pipeline on rails" in a big way (it's a marginal thing right now)

  82. Smallest economy in the G7.

  83. the Just Shy (of a majority)

    – containing a shot of 151 rum, which can be set on fire

    (not to be confused with the Flaming Baird)

  84. During the Coyne vs. Wells cafe latte klatch Mr. Wells said that he understood that Steve Harper shared his and Coyne's belief that there would not be a spring election. Does Mr. Wells think that Spock guessed wrong?

  85. I lost a bet trusting your election timing analysis, Paul. Thanks.

  86. I actually don't think what has happened in the last day or two has actually been as good for the conservatives as their supporters are making it out to be. That isn't to say they won't win another minority but a majority is definately not a slam dunk and yes I don't think Harper actually wants an election right now but it is now out of his control.

  87. I am not sure why anyone in the media is surprised that the opposition immediately rejected this budget. The fact is this government is well on the path to being found in contempt of parliament for its failure to disclose the financials necessary for good decision making.

    While the Bev Oda thing has been more fun, the contempt charges above are more damming. Any budget is simply choke-full of background assumptions, projections etc. Very little of that information makes it into a budget, so for an opposition party to support this budget would require some degree of trust in the Conservative's fiscal integrity.

    It has been widely noted that past majority governments have not provided full financial backgrounds to parliament on proposed legislation.

    1) For the record, I believe the first and most important step in democratic reform would be the removal of cost projections, economic growth forecasts from the political domain, standardized and turned over to a parliamentary officer.


    2) There is a big difference between a majority and minority government wrt the need for the opposition to see the financial numbers. In a majority situation, the financial numbers are necessary to effectively criticize policy and be able to fairly propose alternatives. This is important, but nevertheless all of the power & responsibility to enact remains with the caucus of the governing party.
    However, in a minority situation, opposition parties that support the legislation end up owning the results. This is as it should be, since their votes were required for the legislation to pass. As the Liberals and more recently the NDP have found out, this is painful politically. More to the point, with the finding of contempt wrt fiscal disclosure it becomes ethically indefensible.

  88. It's an interesting question.

    My hypothesis is that the PMs actions (and the opposition's for that matter) have only strengthened the inertia. Campaigns can always change things – but Harper hasn't done much to convince swing voters and neither has Ignatieff.

  89. Harper and the CPC.

    Gee, that was an easy question!

  90. It would only take a few hours to figure out which big chunks of the budget one disagrees with. I see your point on a more in-depth analysis but it's not like the first time these guys really figured out the budget was when it was delivered.

    In addition, your faux outrage at Brison's mincing of words — this is political posturing and is a million miles from not outlining the costs of a piece of legislation at the request of parliament. Brison's point about cutting social programs is plausible if a stretch.

    Finally….hope you'll hold all parties feet to the fire on issues like this instead of just accusing the opposition of hypocrisy. Every single party in Canada today spins messages just like Brison did last night. We should aspire to be better of course – but don't act like spin only comes from the opposition side of the house.

  91. well why not?…the budget itself was leaked all over the place before it was presented.

  92. Cannot wait to see Harper try to debate Ignatieff : should be Ignatieff's finest hour!

  93. Is that even numerically possible?

  94. Think of it as "economic stimulus"

  95. So for those election speculators (hi, Craig and Jane) in the press gallery, who Inkless likes to poke fun at, have they been proven "right." They have been speculating that there will be an election since the last election, meaning they may now be correct, like a broken clock is still right twice a day. Should we let them have their "as we've been saying" moment in the sun?

  96. A two election strategy is clearly what the Liberals have in mind. I don't think any Liberal believes they can knock off Harper now, but they hope to rough him up somwhat, and hold him to another minority. They then hope to go to the polls again sometime in 2012 against a somewhat destabilized Tory government. I think they are nuts, but that's the line a lot of Liberals in Ottawa are selling themselves….

  97. Referring to people who disagree with you as "unwashed masses:…

    Let me guess…you're a Liberal right?

  98. That's right — because it's not like Stephen Harper has battle tested experience in Leader's debates (French and English) over the course of three different national election campaigns — and a deep resevoir of political experience that dates back to his original eleciton to Parliament in 1993…

    …While Michael Ignatieff…in his one and only semi-national debate experience (during the campaign Liberal Leadership in 2006) uttered a phrase so bone-headed ('Stephane…we didn't get it done') that the Conservatives used it — uncut,l in his own voice — in their TV ads.

    …should be an epic mismatch.

  99. Nope, sorry.

    I just thought it was ignorant of people, not to mention bigoted, to turn down someone because he had an accent…..in a country full of accents.

  100. An uneven battle at best : one of the most intelligent men in the world v the mail room kid who needs rehearsed questions and answers and his attack dogs to guide him. Yes, it will be good.

  101. Are you really using statistics to generate the most likely results, and are statistics the best indicator?

  102. I'll cover your portion of the 2012 election, but you're on your own with this one.

  103. The electorate can't collectively decide to do anything. Sorry, it just bugs me when I read things like "Canadians decided on a minority government because they don't trust Harper with a majority" (not that you said that).

  104. Yeah, we could shift all of the DOD finance over to social programming and have no military left. That's one option, but I do think the Canadian voter should be consulted if such shift were to take place.

    Yes, we could make that exaggerated shift (moving the entire DOD budget), but I didn't hear Brison advocating for that, only for rethinking the purchase of those jets.

    And the (almost certain) upcoming election is the only real consultation process that we have…so it seems that you will get your wish! ;-)

  105. "Cynicism and apathy work in his favour, after all. "

    Why? This seems to be a popular idea on these boards, and I'm curious as to why people not voting at all favours the Conservatives.

  106. Thank God the Liberals left $13 billion in the coffers, eh?

  107. On that point — I'll agree. Ignatieff would probably easily win a debate on points at the Oxford Union.

    National Leader's debates during a federal election campaign are a very different beast. On that playing field — Ignatieff can't hold a candle to Harper's experience.

  108. I agree. John Kerry's going to DESTROY George W. Bush.

    Not that I don't HOPE that Ignatieff destroys Harper in the debates, but you're WAAAAY overconfident. In the last debates it came out that the Tories hadn't even put out an election platform yet, and it didn't hurt them one bit.

  109. OriginalEmily1's political views and insights exist on a level much higher than you or I could ever understand. It's best not to try to label her. It's also best not to question her, as her answers are so insightful, meaningful and completely infallible that your face would melt just from listening to her speak.

  110. I don't agree with you about a CPC majority being a good bet, but I do agree with the rest of your assessment. I don't see much of a change in seats coming from an election.

  111. There are other traditional Conservative voters who might stay home too. Wheat Board supporters come to mind. Business people who depend on census information are another group. Blue collar workers who have seen their income drop.

    I don't that it will happen, but I wouldn't be too cocky if I were a Harperite.

  112. Please, please! (sob) I cannot take anymore of this.

  113. Because the people most likely to not vote are the young and the poor…those least likely to vote Conservative.

  114. Isn't that illegal? Shouldn't the RCMP be investigating Flaherty right now?

  115. But the young and the poor traditionally are less likely to vote (as I understand it), are they more likely to be made cynical and apathetic by poor behaviour of politicians? I'm not trying to argue I'm just curious about the contention that people in general being disgusted by politicians behaviour is a win for the Conservatives.

    Let's look at a really simplistic example, and say that 10% of (voting) Canadians have been made cynical and apathetic by politicians' behaviour and decide not to vote. This should result in a 10% decrease in the vote for all parties, unless you want to argue that certain constituencies are more likely to be affected by cynicism and apathy. As far as I know no-one has made that argument.

  116. You seem stuck on the old dairy cow thing, but male dairy cattle are generally sold as beef as well. Every cow produces one calf every year or so, otherwise they quit producing milk. A substantial proportion of those calves are male and destined to become cheeseburgers, so to claim that mad cow did not impact dairy farmers is illegitimate.

  117. "An orchestrated leak to The Globe and Mail and other media outlets Monday and earlier government statements mean some of the budget's contents are already known." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/budg

    I don't know about the legality of said leaks….Is it illegal?

  118. So if this election had a tagline…

    "It's about something, or not"

  119. Whatever you think of her other politics, she knows her stuff on the einvironment, climate change, etc.; the areas where Harper and the Conservatives have failed miserably and done much more hamr than good.

  120. no way there is only one thing libertarians hate more than any anger at harper and that is A: coaltion with any influence by the BLOQ B: Iggy and crew – most libertarians couild even take jack becoming the offcial leader of the oppostion – watch harper and layton duking it out might be fun with the liberals hanging out in the background trying to find a leader any leader will do but the one they have now ….

  121. Would that make 2006 the definitive election then?

  122. Buy fewer pre-election ads.

  123. The Conservatives' contemptuous behaviour has made them contemptible.

  124. Not practically, since it would require dozens of Greens/Independents to make it into the house, improbably low numbers of Liberals and Conservatives, and an almost-complete sweep of Quebec on the Bloc's part. We're just shooting the breeze here, though, aren't we?

  125. Complaining about the cost of an election is absolutely ridiculous. First, the cost ($300-350 million) is tiny in comparison to overall federal spending. Second, when you consider what other things the government spends money on (a lot of waste) election spending looks even better.

    Finally, Canada has the best non-partisan election organization operation (Elections Canada) in the world. We are literally world leaders, even among western developed nations, in running free, fair and non-partisan elections and we do it across the second biggest country on the planet in two languages.

    At $350 million, our elections are a bargain.

  126. Not only that, we’re not even technically one of the seven biggest economies in the world. If the G7 were run like a soccer league, we would have been relegated to the lower division by now.

  127. Especially since Harper has bypassed the House of Commons to have the Conservative-dominated Senate review the Health Accord of 2004:

    He'll destroy public health care if we allow him to.

  128. Sure, but do you get that I was referring to a 2012 election coming after the 2011 election, all so two pundits could smile smugly about the rescue of their prediction?

  129. No accents, and no funny names – didn't you get the memo TIT?

  130. Besides which, it's not like Harper's some drooling idiot. I get the fact that Ignatieff is a very accomplished intellectual and writer and I totally respect him for that. But yeesh, people who make comments like Lizz seem to think that Harper just fell off the turnip truck or something. Get real.

  131. "unless you want to argue that certain constituencies are more likely to be affected by cynicism and apathy. As far as I know no-one has made that argument." Rev_Blair touched on one aspect, that the young and poor less likely to get engaged and that tends to hurt parties to the left. Also, almost by definition, cynicism and apathy are most prevalent in non-committed voters; and since the Conservatives have the largest committed base, low voter turnout helps them winning by simply getting their base out, saving the need to convert many new voters.

  132. Huh, Dion and the Liberal party were rejected because of his..umm… accent?
    Wow that's some serious revisionism!

  133. I'll Iggy's bet shoes are more comfortable though!

  134. As you well know, it played a leading role.

  135. But JE that's not an unreasonable assumption to draw, given it's happened what 2 or 3 times now[ i honestly forget without looking it up] I'm actually astonished how often the electorate does seem to act like a sentient being; irrationall as that is; Mulroney's fall being the best example i can think of; it's almost like they[we] intended to collectively punish him.

  136. That does sound ominously like the guns of august to me.

    What happened to AC's theory this was all meant to embarrass the dippers – it wasn't supposed to be a shooting war? If that were to hold true then this has been a huge miscallculation on the part of the libs. An election as plan B isn't all that reassuring if you're a lib. Come to think of it i'm not all that reassured as an election being plan A. Colour me wobbly lib.

  137. I believe this is the Carl Rove political theory, it's utterly cynical and it stinks. As far as democracy goes, it's the equivalent of undermining the tree on the theory it'll knock your opponent off his perch up in the canopy.

  138. That's pretty shocking. Have any of the liberal senators raised a fuss over this yet? Any links to the cons on this? I'd be interested to at least hear what their rationale is.

  139. I was certainly under the impression that budget leaks were illegal, since they can distort markets etc. I think we need a full investigation into the leaks.

  140. She`s close to Iggy, being from the USA!

  141. Judging by his perpetually constipated face, Id say they pinch

  142. Like it or not, the Liberals talking about Ethics is a joke.I know Adscam is long gone , but there is still a hangover from it. Today, Ruby Dhalla wants to gag order her nanny.Ethics and libs nah

  143. While I think he has his drool issues under control, I don't think Harper is nearly as intelligent as he has been made out to be. If you look at the recent contempt issues, for example, they could have been pretty easily avoided and not avoiding them did nothing to advance the Conservative cause. The same can be said for G-20 over-spending, the lack of a credible case for F-35s, etc..

    Harper has stumbled into so many things blindly, and most of those things could have been avoided or dealt with in a way that might have benefitted the Conservatives.

  144. As Wells has pointed out, I thought Harper has repeatedly stated that he can't govern with a minority government. His whole campaign strategy since 2008 has been to set up the opposition in any minority parliament as an evil coalition-in-waiting, which, genuis that Harper is, also demonstrates that: a) another Harper minority government would be inherently unstable and thus should be avoided, and b) the only alternative is to vote for a Liberal minority government. So I'd set your sites a bit higher than obtaining merely a "stronger" Conservative minority.

  145. Dion's manner of speaking may have played a "leading role" in his downfall, but that is not neccesarily to say that all canadians who didn't vote for him are ignorant. I think it can be universally agreed upon that, regardless of your opinions about him, Dion was not the best public speaker. Good oratory skills are essential in getting ahead in politics, are they not?

  146. Chretien?

  147. LOL well as long as you know….

  148. Ignatieff is Canadian, born in Toronto. He taught at Harvard for 5 years.

  149. Ugh….just when I'd almost forgotten about Aunt Bea…she'll be back in the lime light.

    Then again…maybe not…AGW has pretty much disappeared from the political scene these days.

  150. So you're saying that even the Liberals don't want Ignatieff as PM of a coalition government…?

  151. Which is why she was in the environment portfolio under the Mulroney government I would think.

  152. Interesting that you criticize the government as big spenders and then say they should have given quebec and seniors MORE….hmmm….

    Not to defend Harper's spending record, but it doesn't look like any of the opposition parties are advocating for spending LESS

  153. So, you like quoting Hugo Chavez.

  154. alright, point taken.
    however, it could be argued that chretien was a more captivating speaker than dion.

  155. actually, forget it. that's probably the most pointless thing I've ever defended.

  156. He had few plans beyond his little "green shift" which basically amounted to a massive tax grab for schemes which would have done little but make life more difficult for the average Canadian. What I want to see is an honest, intelligent, straightforward candidate with strength and some kind of vision. I don't care what party he/she would come from. Is that too much too ask?

  157. Puleeze…no partisan propaganda.

    And no, you don't want some honest candidate…etc etc.

    You want someone to confirm your biases

  158. Debt to GDP ratio,

    Canada's is tiny. I'll let you look up what Canada's is compared to the US, France, Spain, England, etc.

  159. My prediction : the Bloc gains 2, the NDP gains 3, the Liberals gain 15, and the Conservatives lose 20.

  160. No you're right. Dion had no stage presence, not just problems with English. Delivery and timing were lacking.

  161. Dear Macleans.

    Hire this man (or woman).

    That is all.

  162. Dion didn't have charisma in French either. Question solved.

  163. Should we end up with the same result in seats, Haper will have proved he is un-majority electable and will quickly face pressure to resign. As will Iggy (should he not become a coalition PM). No matter what the result of this election, big changes will finally happen to our political landscape in 2011.

  164. Partisan propaganda?? You seem to lack even basic instincts of self awareness. I'm the one who's been trying to keep things a little towards the middle. One the other hand, everyone who disagrees with your ideas comes from "the party of stupid" (in your words) and is far too below you for their opinions to even be considered. In your eyes, if a liberal loses its because "it was ignorant of people, not to mention bigoted, to turn down someone because he had an accent…..in a country full of accents."
    And yet I'm the propaganda spouting lunatic. Now where exactly are my biases? My bias towards someone who knows what the heel they are doing? Yes I would like that very much. I'm very much sick of rambling Harvard professors, and shady back room "conservatives". Why wouldn't I want someone that actually told the truth?

  165. Agreed. Lets kick these jokers out and start fresh.

  166. Let's not do our happy dance yet. LAST of the big time spenders? Even if the conservatives lose, I doubt whoever comes along will be much better.

  167. Not to mention he's the only one left in the opposition with anything resembling motivation. Ignatieff seems to have no grounded opinions on anything, and is veering off in seemingly all directions. The bloc are…….the bloc, and the green party is losing it's fad appeal.

  168. Run ponzi schemes.

  169. Hurrah

  170. People always claim they want a politician who'll tell them the truth.

    But politicians learn very early on that's the shortest route to defeat. People don't actually want to hear the truth, they want to be reassured. And they want to be confirmed in their biases.

    Kim Campbell told the truth twice, and look what happened to her.

    Dion told the truth and the same thing happened.

    So we'll continue to get politicians who'll agree with whoever they meet, and who don't rock the boat.

  171. Fine Then she should put her considerable talents behind another party in the effort for the environment, not wasting time and votes in running herself. While the Chipmunk party may get a seat or two, it is powerless and can probably only appeal seriously to a few Econuts on the Gulf Islands. Meanwhile the taxpayer's money is blown in her efforts.

  172. Nonsense, Emily-whatever. The public turned him down because of his environmental tax and his apparent wimpiness. Not a leader

  173. No point in trying to suck up to her, Albert. Now that the election uis for sure, she'll have to make a choice.

  174. No one understood the environmental policy….one we'll get sooner or later anyway….and 'wimpiness' is just a standard Con schoolyard slur.

  175. That's right. Nor of any government. His moving into the leadership was opportunistic. He was clearly a mistake encouraged by the Rainmaker in his dotage and this election is being held so that they can get rid of him when Harper rides to another minority.

  176. Interestingly, it is the voters' choice despite the disparagement of Harper on these pages . Now that the confidence vote has been taken I suggest that the result will be the same/

  177. I am personally disappointed that Jack Layton didn't even take the overnight to look at the budget. A lot of his requests were at least acknowledged and I think there was no way that those big ticket items could be accommodated in this budget. And don't give me that liberal nonsense about prisons, planes and profiteers. The firs two items were no even in the budget and the third is clearly a progressive move for anyone who has a few economics courses under his or her belt. I suspect that in a continuation of the discussion and an emphasis one one pony (probably an across the board increase in GIS) . Layton clearly was operating on automatic pilot: ion other words, the fix was in. What cabinet posts did the Lios offer?

  178. Note that the big spending was done after the pleas of the other parties, but more importantly,after the international finance community who went pure Keynes.

  179. Not really. Nowe he must really move the masses, and unfortunately he is not a mass mover.

  180. Back to being a fly on the wall, Paul?

  181. Well said. A real scandal isn't what the media says is one, but one that grabs the ordinary citizen like the Liberal sponsorship scandal. for example. Millions of taxpayer dollars pocketed by a bunch of crooks – of course that is normal history in that province.

  182. Just so, but not one that was not needed as it looks like there is no radical swing in voter preference. So it is $350 million (or whatever) wasted.

  183. The greatest politicians in history were those who were strong enough to tell the truth.

    It takes considerable strength to tell people how it really is and a leader must be able to deal with the consequences afterwards. What I want is someone who can do this. I'm sick of trying to work through some snake's doublespeak and figuring out what they actually mean. However considering that you are correct about the fact that most leaders never take this route I will have to say that this wish is little more then a fantasy. We will never have a Winston Churchill.

  184. None of them ever did…including Churchill.

    It's one of the problems with a democracy….you can't do ANYthing if you don't get elected.

    And to get elected you have to reassure people, and confirm their biases.

  185. There was no opaqueness about his environmental policy. Until China, India and the US were on board our own economy was put at unnecessary uncompetitive risk. (all of the above building multi coal fired power plants. Only a blind idealist could buy that, OEmily1.

  186. Most people didn't understand it. Including you apparently.

  187. First prediction based on events on Day -1 and Day 1 of campaign:

    CPC 185
    Bloc 52
    NDP 41
    LPC 29
    Ind 1 (Arthur, not May)

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