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