There are many reason why we should not have a spring election. Here are my top 10!
1 There are too many pieces of Harper’s 5 point plan in still in the legislative process. They have not had the time to get passed into law like his crime and punishment, health care wait times, accountability and the policy flux around child care spaces. He had a modest agenda and has not had time to deliver. We will have wasted the past year if we have an early election.
2 None of the parties are really ready to go because they are still all finding their policy footing. The Cons have the money, even though they are pitching the party faithful for emergency funds for a pending election. The Cons are currently so busy reintroducing and repackaging prior Liberal polices they need time to convince Canadians they are still the “new” government and not just a lighter version of an old-style Liberal government.
3 Candidate selection is in process for all parties and there is plenty of posturing, including candidate colleges in some parties. But thoughtful and quality candidates need more time to consider running or not. Rushing this process ensures we will have less than optimum candidates offering their “talents” to serve in governance.
4 Party leaders are all ill-defined in the public mind. Polls show we don’t really know nor do we have a clear sense of who Harper is after 5 years back in leadership in the federal political scene. His recent election promises breaches and his epiphany over the environment from a climate change denier to becoming the new super hero “Eco-man” is causing even more uncertainty as to who he really is. Dion is a known environmentalist and federalist but an unknown as a leader even within his party. Layton is seen as an issues broker but undefined and unfocused and still an unknown as a political leader. May is too new and untested and leading a party that is more unknown than even she is but that will change when the next election happens.
5 The national political agenda is too vague and amorphous so we don’t know what this election would be about other than Harper trying to get a majority. Polls are telling us Canadians are unclear if they even want a majority government, of any stripe, as yet. The environment has turned into a lightening rod and all parties have the poll results that have them crowding to the middle ground and bumping into each other like a Keystone Kops comedy. None of this is helping to gain the confidence of the Canadian voter for any political party right now.
6 Volatility and uncertainty in the mind of the voters is apparent in the polls as of late. Except for about 65% saying they do not want spring election and the environment as the #1 issue, nothing is certain or even ascertainable as to exactly what the public wants of its government today. Canadians are not yet over their “test drive” attitude towards the Cons from the last election. In 2006 Canadians elected a minority government on purpose and those purposes have not yet been served. Anyone who causes the election for superficial reasons will be punished in the polls. Any spring election will not be perceived as being about the wishes of the people but about the egos and thirst for power of politicians.
7 We need time to see if Harper will be serious about his budget promises and just how authentic he is about his conversion and version of vert-nouveau. Announcements of program funding and rhetorical political promises are one thing, action and outcomes are entirely different matters
8 We need to wait for some provincial elections to happen and the implications they hold for the future nation to be understood. For sure we will need time to digest the Quebec election outcomes and especially what a minority government in Quebec might mean. We need to understand those implications and even perhaps wait for the elections in Ontario and Alberta to go first because they would be helpful to set some political agendas for the nation and give the federal scene time to focus and define.
9 There needs to be time for the actual outcomes of Harper’s promise to deal with the perception within Quebec of a Fiscal Imbalance and how he will deal with it in fact, and not fiction. We need time to see the real Stephen Harper and his actual execution of policies around equalization and per capita transfers to provinces and how he will actually proceed to decentralize governance to favour the provinces.
10 Finally why are we wasting the time and money for an election when there is no pressing need and no clear issue demanding a mandated resolution? We have yet to see significant real results from Harper and that is not because he has not been trying. He has.
We as Canadians need more time for Harper to prove himself to be worthy of the al powerful position of Prime Minister in a majority government. He wants to afford us less time for that to happen and that is why he is pressing for an early but pointless and likely inconclusive election this spring.
Harper is worried that over time this summer, Dion will become better known, more defined and respected as a political leader. Layton has the same fears over the emergence of May and the Greens who might eat even more of his lunch with more time to become known, defined and respected.
Dion and May need more time to become established and organized so they will not be anxious to go early and they will hold their noses and vote for the budget. Besides they can benefit by seeing the Harper budget and green plan and taking time to comment on the merits and question the Cons actual commitment to the policies they propose. Past actions tend to show the Cons are just that; con-artists on policy and political promises.
Consequently, I expect Harper will try to engineer his demise this spring and if Layton is nervous enough about the Greens and May he will oblige the Cons and force an election. It will not be on the Cons budget but rather on their environment proposals that Layton will see the reason to cause an election.