Will Harper call a snap election?

Trust is a hard thing to win back once lost. If Stephen Harper calculates that electoral fraud and corruption allegations stand to damage the Conservative brand with its own supporters, might he gamble on a fresh mandate?

The timing might not get better.

Perhaps the safe option would be to dig in and ride out the next two years. But I see two long-term risks to that plan.

– One is Elections Canada’s ongoing investigation into misleading robocalls during the 2011 campaign. With this week’s federal court ruling that fraud did indeed take place across the country — and that the perpetrators had access to the Conservative Party’s CIMS database — the case for by-elections in tainted ridings will grow. The Conservatives need lose only 10 seats to put them in minority territory.

– Compounding the danger is the growing disgust within the party over perceived hypocrisy. After being elected on promises of fiscal transparency and moral probity, two more years of scandal could discourage longtime Conservative supporters enough to stay home. Or, in the worst-case scenario for Harper, the vaunted “big blue tent” could split — for example, if socially-conservative Western MPs decide that rot has taken over the party’s core.

One way to head off both possibilities would be to dissolve parliament, ask voters for a renewed mandate, promise to put the economy first, and in so doing wipe the slate (mostly) clean. Consider the following:

– The NDP was utterly humiliated in the recent BC election. That was supposed to be the Western stronghold from which a second Orange Wave would sweep. Instead, imported federal campaign gurus Brian Topp and Brad Lavigne managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The earlier the next federal election, the less time the NDP will have to regain confidence in its “positive” campaign philosophy — and convince its troops that 2011 was more than a lucky high-water mark.

– Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is counting on the next two years to prove himself in Parliament and rebuild his party’s electoral infrastructure, riding by riding. The earlier the next federal election, the less comfortable voters will be handing power to Trudeau.

– Both the Liberals and the NDP have rejected calls for electoral cooperation — too recently to change their position, and too recently to have made much progress, even in secret talks.

– Third-party advocacy groups are only starting to implement the campaign lessons and new strategies that might make them a factor in defeating the Conservatives. The earlier the next federal election, the less time environmental groups and pro-democracy groups have to organize.

– The Conservative Party tends to perform well in an environment of low overall voter engagement. Summer elections are usually known for reduced turnout.

– The job market still appears to be growing, but consumer confidence is quietly slipping. The earlier the next federal election, the less chance of dramatic economic setbacks that might contradict Conservative branding.

Again, the timing might not get better for Harper.

Another majority win would provide a stable timeframe to push through energy project approvals and continue cutbacks to government regulators and data-gathering departments. It would also set up an orderly transfer of power, letting Harper hand the reins gradually to his political heir. Jason Kenney is the name that comes up most often.

What do you think? Will Harper call an early election?

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9 comments
  1. Nope. Harper’s probably planning on getting his destruction of Canada done over the next two years and then throwing the party to the wind.

  2. Expressions like left, right or center are used to characterize political parties. It can also represent just different colours of modern gladiators known for servicing the ruling spheres in the ancient Rome – the gladiators dispersed attention of the masses from watching hands of the rulers. Now we have the same kind of the top social manipulators as in Rome that can be named as CO1 (Center of this symbolic 1%). They are the worst kind of the greediest and cynical people who after winning the dirtiest ‘competitions’ of grabbing the biggest fortunes feel chosen to rule human kind, and today even on a global scale. Politicians are their lapdogs with similarly acting MSM (main stream media). At stake is destroying this whole sick system instead of maintaining/keeping naive believes about the possibility of finding/creating a truly honest/right party with proper leaders who can heal our ‘democracy’. Just a simple example: After 1939-41 it was impossible to replace Hitler and change Germany. This whole nation was already too ‘drunk’ after consuming so addictive nationalism and propaganda. They needed to be shocked and humiliated after the lost war. Similar ‘experiences’ are needed not only for our very small CO1% group, but for 10-15% of servile/opportunistic part of our society that supports them. Politicians are among them, but also judges, lawyers, governmental bureaucrats, informers, acting questionably soldiers/policemen/ etc.

  3. Jaye Endo said:

    Kai, that sounds like some wistful thinking from the left, (that I wish I could blindly agree!) perhaps precipitated by the disappointing BC election results? Maybe we can get a second chance to make the change federally that we didn’t do provincially? Unfortunately, I would be very surprised if Harper called an election earlier than the fixed election date every 4 years as determined by the bill the Conservatives supported in 2006. True he didn’t abide by it with a minority government in 2008, but calling an early election with a majority government would severely add to his hypocrisy and further alienate his own base. I can’t imagine how he would justify having an early election (or do I lack imagination?). Perhaps if he loses his majority meanwhile, calling an early election may be palatable. If the fixed election dates did not exist I would be more inclined to agree with you, but as it is, such an election call would be surprising.

  4. On the other hand, it is said that the population has a short memory. Not so short that an election at the present time would not be influenced by the current scandals, however. But in two years, if the Cons manage to behave themselves until then (e.g. no more scandals!) they would have a better chance. What I would like to see would be a vote of non-confidence with the participation of whoever among true Conservatives is tired of Harper, soon followed by an election. It would be better is that happened in the Fall, when people will be back from their vacations (that is, those who still can afford vacations!) could be a better time to fire this government and find out if another one would be any better.

  5. I don’t think so. But I do see the possibility of the Conservatives getting rid of Harper. He is so unpopular and I am sure even though the party appears loyal that there are some or even many who would love to be rid of him.

  6. The idea any government would risk losing power two years early is preposterous.

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  8. Steve Tepperman said:

    If the polls do not improve in the next year, I expect Harper to pull a Brian Mulroney and retire. Same game played by Dalton McGuinty. I see both as cynical moves ahead of a disastrous election call. The Liberals will feel the electorate’s wrath in the next election as well as the Tories under new leadership.

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