Reflections on coming federal election
Three months out from the next federal election, things are not looking good for the Conservatives.
Prime Minister Harper has lost a number of key cabinet ministers, including John Baird and Peter MacKay, oil prices have collapsed, and Canada may already be in recession.
That spells trouble for a party whose main claim is that it is a better steward of the economy than its opponents. After nine years, the Harper government seems listless.
At best, the Conservatives can only count on a loyal base of somewhere between 30-35 per cent of the electorate. On the other hand, large segments of Canadian society absolutely loath Harper; he’s been compared to everyone from Attila the Hun to Hitler! (Some call this “Harper derangement syndrome.”)
Despite that, the Conservatives will emerge victorious. The well-oiled Tory machine, plus the addition of 30 new seats in the House of Commons, mostly in Conservativefriendly areas in Ontario and the West, will see to that.
However, while they will come first, the Conservatives won’t win the 169 seats needed for a majority.
The New Democrats will be a close second, though this will depend on the Bloc Québécois not re-emerging as a major force in that province.
The Liberals will hold about the same number of seats as they currently have; they will basically become a “niche” party, supported mostly by recent immigrant communities in big cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, anglophone and allophone federalists in Montreal, and Atlantic Canadians. By the way, Atlantic Canada’s continued support of the Liberals has an interesting historical parallel: in the United Kingdom, after the Liberals became a minor party in the 1920s, their support came mainly in the “Celtic fringe” ( parts of Scotland and Wales).
If all goes as I suggest, the Conservatives will emerge with 154 seats, the NDP with 135, the Liberals with 35, the Bloc with 12, and the Greens with two.
Justin Trudeau will try to entice Thomas Mulcair into forming a coalition government – after all, the Liberals will have nothing to lose - but the New Democrats would be wise to resist it: why breathe new life into their rivals?
Instead, the NDP will try to topple the minority Tories in a vote of non-confidence when parliament resumes sitting and then form their own minority government (with tacit support from the Bloc and Liberals).
What happens after that is anybody’s guess. My own crystal ball becomes hazy at that point. No doubt they will be interesting times!