Bolstered by the results of this past Monday’s election in Quebec (in which the PQ fell to third place and the conservative pro-‘autonomy’ ADQ went from 5 to 41 seats to become the official opposition), a weakened Bloc Quebecois forced to support passage of the Tory’s voter-friendly budget, and not-quite-majority-level poll numbers*, PM Stephen Harper is quietly musing about a spring election, Susan Delacorte and Richard Brennan of the Toronto Star report. With everything seemingly coming up Harper, one is tempted to reflexively discount the obligatory denials emanating from official Tory circles.
Not so fast, says Don Martin:
Conventional wisdom suggests Harper could count his Conservative electoral gains by overlaying the federal riding map on right-leaning ADQ constituency conquests.
But there has been no discernible warming to the campaign concept inside the PMO and Harper was at it again on Tuesday, insisting he has no intention of forcing an election unless his agenda is suddenly derailed by Parliament.
[...] [T]he not-so-hidden warning of this election and politics in general these days is that there’s no sure thing anymore. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach? Liberal Leader Stephane Dion? Official Opposition Leader Mario Dumont? Implausible titles all just six months ago.
While Stephen Harper counts up his many blessings, he surely understands the risk of going to the polls based on fleeting favourable conditions. The last title he wants is Former Prime Minister.
Sinister Greg, however, thinks the temptation will be too great for Harper to ignore:
I realize the stunning rise of ADQ power is like red meat to the Blogging Tories who were pretty jazzed by the prospect of a spring election before the results of the Quebec election were known. This is inevitable, I’m afraid. They were itching to go before and will be howling now. I can live with that.
Harper may not have much choice but to call an election. The conditions seem perfect for him (even though I am convinced they are not) and the temptation to go is overwhelming.
Greg also points out that, contra conventional wisdom (/grin), new (right-of-centre) Quebec opposition leader Mario Dumont is not a federalist in the ‘traditional’ sense (then again, neither is the Prime Minister, at least not as currently defined). [update: more on Dumont from Radical Centrist.]
My advice to Canadian voters (FWIW): Get ready to visit the polls for the third time in as many years, sooner rather than later.
*Contrast the results of the Leger marketing survey with this Decima poll. Keep in mind both polls were conducted before this past Monday’s election in Quebec.