2008/02/10

Harper on the brink

Election talk is rampant again in Ottawa this week. PM Harper is perceived to be setting traps for Liberal Leader Stephane Dion with the motion to extend the Afghan combat mission to 2011 and a motion calling on the Senate to pass crime legislation by a House of Commons-set deadline. In addition there will be a vote on the budget.

Is Harper really hoping that Dion will vote nonconfidence and precipitate an election or is he hoping that Dion will bob and weave and evade an election? Speculation on Harper's motivations ranges widely. Some perceive that Harper would rather go to a vote now rather than later because his fortunes are on the ebb with an impending economic decline plus a potential shift to the left in the US. Others perceive that Harper is hoping to call Dion's bluff and that Dion will fold again rather than face the electorate. In the background are polls which show that, far from gaining, Harper is having difficulty staying even with the Liberals in the polls despite the widespread perception that Dion is a weak leader.

Time will tell whether Mr. Harper has read the tea leaves correctly.

The other view, and the one I favour, is that Harper has decided he has nothing to gain by waiting and perhaps something to gain by forcing an election now. This assumes that Harper has calculated that he can out-campaign Dion and make up lost ground on the election trail particularly if Dion stumbles as many pundits assume. The pitfall in this gamble is that, if Dion can run a steady even if not a brilliant campaign, Harper may well find himself out of office and facing a Liberal minority in a few months.

1 comment:

Down Easter said...

I think Harper is gambling that he can outperform Dion on the campaign trail and gain some seats.