2006/01/14

The Election: Day 46 (Conservatives on cusp of majority)

The Globe and Mail reported today the results of seat projections done by the Strategic Counsel.The Conservative Party will come within a few seats of winning a majority government, if current levels of voter support hold up, according to these projections.

The Liberal Party would form the Official Opposition but would have only about a dozen more MPs than the third-place Bloc Québécois, the projections suggest.The NDP"s earlier hopes of a large breakthrough in British Columbia appear unlikely.

The projections are that the Conservatives will win 152 seats, followed by 74 for the Liberals, 60 for the Bloc and 21 for the NDP. There are 308 seats in the House, so a party needs 155 to form a majority.

Pollster Allan Gregg said seat projections have historically been a good predictor of the direction an election is heading, but the exact numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Two regions will decide whether the Conservatives get a minority or a majority, should there be little change between now and election day, he said. These are the Greater Toronto Area where the Liberals remain strong and the province of Quebec.


According to the Strategic Counsel projections, the regional seat breakdown would be as follows:

– British Columbia appears on track to elect 26 Tories, six Liberals, three NDP MPs and an Independent.

– All 28 ridings in Alberta would go to the Conservatives.

– Manitoba and Saskatchewan will not change, once again electing a combined 20 Conservatives, four Liberals and four NDP MPs.

– The Greater Toronto Area will elect 35 Liberals, eight Tories and two NDP MPs while the rest of Ontario will elect 49 Tories, four Liberals and eight New Democrats.

– Montreal will have 21 Bloc MPs and seven Liberals, while the rest of Quebec will elect 39 Bloc MPs and eight Conservatives.

– Atlantic Canada will elect 15 Liberals, 13 Conservatives and four NDP MPs.

– All three seats in the territories will go to the Liberals.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper today released the Conservative platform, a Blue Book entitled "Stand Up for Canada." Most of the contents had already been released but there were a few additional initiatives announced today.These include a promise to cut taxes on capital gains for individuals and companies that reinvest the money within six months.

Harper promised to increase Canada's foreign aid spending by $425 million. He also promised fixed election dates, and new legislation to clean up pollution in the air and water, and on land.There is also a commitment to move to some form of elected Senate.

Harper said Canadians can expect a Conservative government to spend $60 billion for new programs over the next five years, which includes $45 billion in tax breaks.
He also projected $22.7 billion of surpluses over the next five years.

The Conservatives also plan to save about $22 billion by putting a cap on the growth of federal spending each year, limited to the rate of inflation and the increase in population, except in the departments of Indian Affairs and Defence. But Harper said they will not be implementing any "draconian measures" to limit growth. "The most we do in any area, frankly, is restrain spending growth. There will still be growth," he said adding that in some area they will reallocate among priorities.

Harper also indicated a willingness to consult Parliament about whether Canada should join the U.S. missile-defence system. If Canada received a formal, written offer from the U.S., Harper said the question would be put to Parliament for a free vote.

While fighting to turn the tide, Paul Martin was broad-sided by an unneeeded distraction in B.C. The Liberal party ended up disowning one of its B.C. candidates,Abbotsford Liberal candidate David Oliver,following allegations he offered his NDP opponent a job to drop out of the race and support the Liberals.

In an affidavit filed with Elections Canada, Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson alleges that Oliver and his campaign manager guaranteed him a win in the next municipal election, and offered him a job in Ottawa – if Oliver went on to win the election.

Following the example set by Stephen Harper the previous day, Martin decided that it was in the best interests of the party that Oliver cease campaigning as a Liberal candidate and that he not sit in the Liberal caucus should he be elected.

Meanwhile, Jack Layton was continuing to dig himself out of the hole created by news that he had used a private clinic for to deal with a hernia problem in the 1990s. Layton had hernia surgery at the Shouldice Hospital, a private facility in Toronto,
while he was serving as a Toronto city councillor. The NDP leader said wasn't aware
the clinic was private when he went for his surgery in the mid-1990s. "It's just part of the system," Layton said in an interview. "The doctor says, 'Go there.' You pay with your (Ontario health) card. It never occurred to me (it was) anything other than medicare, which it is. "I can tell you now if my doctor ever refers me anywhere, I'll ask him that question. It never occurred to me at the time, it wasn't a controversy at the time. It wasn't something on one's mind."

Layton stressed that the Shouldice facility is a not-for-profit facility that has been part of the Ontario medical system for decades. It was originally set up for veterans returning from the Second World War and was grandfathered into the Ontario medical system, he said.

Copying a favourite tactic of the Liberals,Layton made a direct plea Friday to disillusioned Grit voters to switch to his side. With Liberal support dropping in polls, and some analysts suggesting the Conservatives are on the edge of winning a majority government, Layton tried to portray himself as the Tory-blocking alternative. He appealed to Canadians to chose the NDP over the Liberals so the long-time governing party can have a "timeout" to heal and return to the values of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau.

"Paul Martin has failed the test of leadership," Layton said. "His term of office as prime minister, like his campaign, is about nothing.

"The issues he and his team are talking about in this campaign are improvised, incoherent and frequently embarrassing when they aren't offensive."

As voters ponder whether they wish a Conservative majority government, it remains to be seen whether those thinking of voting NDP or who are still undecided decide to switch back to the Liberals to try to prevent the Conservatives from securing a majority. There are many, myself included, who want to see a Conservative minority with a sufficient number of NDP MPs to ensure that the Conservatives do not make radical changes to Canada's social programs before they have to return to the voters. This would ensure that Martin and his cronies are turfed, the Liberals choose a new leader and some renewal begins before they again head back to the polls. We will watching the polls intently up to election day to help us make that decision when we enter the polling booth.

Earlier today I circulated the Strategic Counsel seat projections to some friens with the brief comment:

"Wow, this is getting a bit too close for comfort."

I leave you with the response I received from my friend Henry who provided the following food for thought:

"Isn't this what we prayed for-- a change, and how can change occur except by the defeat of the current government? The ancient Greeks, who were much wiser than we are, had a saying:

"Whom the gods would punish they first grant the answer to their prayers".

It seems that the Canadian people want change very passionately but are afraid to take the risk that change might entail some discomfort. If Canadians had populated Russia, France or even England, there would have been no Revolution, either Bloody or Glorious.

Vicarious revolutionaries is what we are."

1 comment:

Jasmine said...

Wow, this is getting a bit too close for comfort. What we want is a Conservative minority held in check by the NDP.