2006/01/25

Election +2

Harper has put his transition team in place headed by Derek Burney, former Chief of Staff to Brian Mulroney. The change of government is expected to occur in about two weeks. Speculation about who will get which Cabinet post intensifies daily. The consensus seems to be that Lawrence Cannon, former Bourassa cabinet minister, will become Deputy Prime Minister and Harper's Quebec lieutenant.

It is clear that Harper will have to move cautiously to implement his proposed intiatives. He faces a delicate balancing act.More than half the people who voted Conservative in Monday's election did so mainly because they thought it was time for a change, according to an Environics poll conducted for the CBC the weekend before the vote.

Only 41 per cent of them said they were voting for Stephen Harper's party because they wanted a Conservative government, compared to 54 per cent who said they were casting their ballots for the sake of change.

"They have to be careful about taking a very different direction for the country," Donna Dasko, the senior vice-president of Environics Research Group, said of Harper's incoming minority government.

"The support they gained is not support for radical change."

The apparent items on which there is consensus include:

Getting tougher on sentences for crime, especially crime committed with handguns, which won 88 per cent support.

Reforming the Senate by holding elections for vacancies rather than having the prime minister appoint people, which was supported by 71 per cent of those polled.

However, the poll indicated that Canadians are split almost down the middle on a handful of issues that the Conservatives promised to address:

Lowering the GST, if it means removing income tax cuts previously announced by the Liberals.
Getting rid of the gun registry, which enjoys heavy support in Quebec as well as urban regions of the country.
Taking away the Liberal-promised national day-care system, even if the Conservatives replace it with a plan to give parents $100 a month for every child under six.

According to the poll, 66 per cent of respondents did not want Harper's party to bring the same-sex marriage issue back to Parliament for a free vote, as he has promised. A total of 30 per cent of people polled wanted to see that vote happen.

While Harper is wrestling with how to proceed to effect change, the Liberals face the challenge of a party that has been split asunder by the Martin/Chretien feud for years. Various Liberals are on the record as saying that the new leader should not come from either of those camps. David Herle is the new Warren Kinsella.

Speculation is growing that Frank McKenna, former NB premier, is the early frontrunner in the race to succeed Martin. McKenna today announced that he would be resigning from his post as Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., setting the scene for entry into the leadership race. Meanwhile many other names are circulating as potential leadership contenders.

1 comment:

Liberal no more said...

Harper has shown some ability to build coalitions. Don't sell him short yet.