Here we go again


For the fourth time in less than seven years, it now ap­pears that Cana­di­ans will be go­ing to the polls in a na­tional gen­eral elec­tion. Yippee. Get ready, be­cause a po­lit­i­cal cir­cus is about to en­velop the en­tire coun­try, in­clud­ing New­found­land and Labrador, where seven of the 308 seats in the House of Com­mons are up for grabs.

It all comes af­ter five years of gov­er­nance by Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper and the Con­ser­va­tives, one of the long­est-serv­ing mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ments in Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal his­tory. Harper, this coun­try’s 22nd prime min­is­ter, was sworn in Feb. 6, 2006.

Will he sur­vive an­other elec­tion and re­turn to 24 Sus­sex Drive, the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the Prime Min­is­ter of Canada? Will we have an­other mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, and the $400 or so mil­lion it will cost for an elec­tion have gone out the door for no good rea­son?

Will Lib­eral Leader Michael Ig­nati­eff fi­nally make a break­through with the Cana­dian elec­torate, or will Gilles Du­ceppe and the Bloc Québé­cois con­tinue to stand in the way of a ma­jor­ity for ei­ther the Con­ser­va­tives or the Lib­er­als? How about NDP Leader Jack Lay­ton? Will he guide his party to a larger pres­ence in Par­lia­ment? We’ll find out in early May, it seems. Con­sid­er­ing the volatil­ity of the Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal land­scape in re­cent years, we’ll be leav­ing the prog­nos­ti­cat­ing to those who do it for a liv­ing.

All we know for sure is that spring­time in this prov­ince will be dom­i­nated by colour­ful elec­tion signs, politi­cians on the hus­tings, and mail boxes stuffed with cam­paign pam­phlets and brochures.

Just what we need at a time when the na­tional econ­omy con­tin­ues to re­cover from the worst eco­nomic re­ces­sion in gen­er­a­tions, and our mil­i­tary per­son­nel con­tinue to put their lives on the line in places such as Afghanistan.

Are Cana­di­ans re­ally all that caught up in whether the Con­ser­va­tives are in “con­tempt” of Par­lia­ment? Or are they more con­cerned with jobs and health care and bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion? Per­haps there are bet­ter ways to spend this $400 mil­lion. Think?

But the politi­cos among us love elec­tions, and there’s cer­tainly in­ter­est­ing days ahead.

First off, Con­ser­va­tive Sen­a­tor Fabian Man­ning will now be forced to stop toy­ing with the me­dia and come clean on whether or not he will try and re­gain the seat he lost to Lib­eral Scott An­drews (Avalon) in the last elec­tion.

It also ap­pears that NDP MP Jack Har­ris (St. John’s East) will face a stiff chal­lenge, with busi­ness owner Jerry Byrne in­di­cat­ing he will seek the nom­i­na­tion for the Con­ser­va­tives in that district.

The Con­ser­va­tives were shut out in this prov­ince in the 2008 fed­eral elec­tion, with then premier Danny Wil­liams mount­ing an “Any­thing But Con­ser­va­tive” cam­paign.

But the Lib­er­als will not have the ben­e­fit of Wil­liams’ pop­u­lar­ity this time around, and many ob­servers ques­tion whether the six Lib­eral MPs will hold onto their seats this time around.

So as we pre­pare our­selves for five weeks of pol­i­tick­ing, here’s where things stand in the House of Com­mons: Con­ser­va­tives - 143; Lib­er­als - 77; Bloc Québé­cois - 47; NDP - 36; in­de­pen­dents - 2; and va­can­cies - 3. Buckle up, folks. It’s sure to be an in­ter­est­ing ride.

- Terry Roberts, se­nior edi­tor

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