Monday, September 08, 2008

Four thoughts on the election

Without further adieu, demand, or interest, here are my four thoughts on the election:

1.) The Conservatives are obviously desiring a majority, though the ability to fashion this majority is slightly more difficult than the media is making it out to be. It almost certainly requires two things: a much better performance in Quebec than in the previous election (which was already a pretty good showing) AND significant gains in Ontario. Assuming that the Tories' majority comes from gains only in Quebec and Ontario, the party needs a net gain of 46 seats out of the 131 up for grabs. This is not an impossible task, but it's not a simple one. And if it occurs it would signal a rather fundamental shift in the Canadian party system and will certainly doom either the Bloc or Stephane Dion, or both.
2.) We must always remember that the Liberals have an inherent advantage in Canadian elections due to their support among ethnic minorities and Catholics. Read Blais' Presidential Address before you say but. If the Conservatives win it will be because they've finally found a way to break into this group. And I am willing then to call all of my political friends who said it was stupid of Harper to bring up same-sex marriage in the last election. It may have been unsavoury, uncivil, unseemly, whatever, but it certainly wasn't stupid. It was most certainly a part of a longer-term plan to convince these key voting groups that the Conservatives are as much on their side as the Liberals. This is a long-term struggle, but the Tories have proven themselves much more forward-looking than the Liberals in recent years.
3.) Dion should quit talking like the Green Shift is not going to effect anyone negatively. It is. But that's ok. We don't pretend that the cost of cigarette and alcohol taxes are evenly distributed throughout the population. And society is willing to accept them as a necessary tool for addressing externalities. In sum, I liked Dion the Straight Talking Professor more than Dion the Politician, and this policy is the latest example. I also think it plays to his weaknesses and not his strengths.
4.) I am unconvinced Elizabeth May should not be included in the debates. But I am not convinced either. In this case, I can't imagine it would hurt, so why not err on the side of inclusion?


Ross I said...

I just hate being lied to. Either parliament was not working (even though it was on recess) or the Harper Conservatives were able to make remarkable progress on their five priorities - not both. While on this topic, either the election can be reasonably expected to return a majority government or why are we bothering? If the Conservatives get back with a similar margin, why could we expect parliament to function any better?

Either the government should not be allowed to take advantage by calling an election at a time favourable to them, by legislation, or they should be free to - not both.

If May should not be included in the leaders' debate, let us understand the criteria being applied (e.g., number of seats, percent of the popular vote). Why Harper thinks he can say that the Greens are Liberals because they are not running against each other in two ridings is beyond me.

I feel quit sympathetic towards Dion and wonder how reporting can be considered fair when we are regularly told how weak and unpopular he is. I do think that the Liberals would have been smarter than to use "tax" to describe the Green shift. Tax is a pejorative no matter how you dress it up. I wonder if the Liberals can play on the depth and strength of their team compared to the bunch that Harper has under wraps and doesn't even trust to answer questions.

And speaking of taxes, I am still annoyed that the Conservatives, who are supposed to be in favour of tax simplicity and regressiveness, are the ones who lowered the GST and tacked on bothersome credits for soccer, gymnastics and bus passes. Harper seems to be benefiting from Chretien's playbook more and more. Maybe that is how you get elected in Canada.

Peter Loewen said...

Hi Ross,

A few retorts for argument's sake.

First, the government can argue that it's achieved all it can and that now is the time for an election; that is, the five priorities have been met and not it's time to seek out a new mandate. And even if they are elected to a minority, they will be doing so with the support of the electorate to enact their legislation.

As for Dion, I think his problems are as much of his own making as they are the media's. That's not to say that the media are being fair, but it is to say that he has failed at making them treat him fairly.

As for the GST and the tax code, agreed.