Monday, August 31, 2009
If Ignatieff forces an election next month without any real need for one, just because he can, the Canadian electorate will hand him his head.
Though the pollsters and the journalists love elections, most of the Canadian public do not. They want to go to the polls only when there's a good reason.
Disliking Stephen Harper isn't a good enough reason.
Certainly, there is always a degree of political calculation in any decision to vote down a government -- and nobody is more calculating in that respect than the Harper Conservatives -- but there needs to be a good sort-of-non-political reason, too. Or at least some reason which can be presented as being in the public interest, as opposed to the politician's interest.
Basically, Canadian voters just want that good old peace, order and good government. Absent some overriding national issue or some cause celebre or scandal, or even any leader fatigue, the Canadian public doesn't really want to have to bother about politics very often.
When Harper pulled his stunt last year, calling an election for no good reason, voters would have sandbagged him if they could. What saved Harper then was that people disliked Stephane Dion, so much that many Canadians simply could not bring themselves to vote Liberal. In the end, almost 10 million Canadians sat on their hands and didn't vote at all. So the Conservatives were able to hang onto their base.
Last winter there might have been a good reason for an election -- Harper had proven himself so incompetent with his inadequate and mean economic update that Dion and Layton were able to rev up their supporters and might have been able to justify voting down the government.
And last spring there might also have been a good reason for an election -- Canadians were hurting badly while Harper remained pig-headed about unemployment insurance, so Ignatieff might have been able to justify voting down the government.
But times change. The urgency of unemployment insurance change has dissipated as a national issue, the economy is showing signs of life, and abandoning Canadians abroad is a tough sell.
If Iggy's only answer to the question "Why vote down Harper?" is "Because I can!", that's just not good enough. I fear that Canadians will be so annoyed they'll give Harper a majority just to make sure Ignatieff cannot do it again.
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