Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Election? No thanks, We're Canadian

If Stephane Dion's recent move on the Afghanistan issue is any indication, there will likely not be a Canadian Federal election this coming spring. Dion effectively removed Afghanistan from the possible list of election issues by compromising his position on removing troops from Afghanistan by 2009.

The impact of this decision will not only be a neutralization of this issue in any possible spring election, but could very well make Dion take a step back from his hawkish desire for an early election. Certainly many in his party will be pleased about that.

This does leave one question though, what about Jean Chretien's advice to Dion on an early election call? It stands to reason that Dion would still appreciate the advice of his long time boss, and the last Liberal to win majorities, but Chretien himself might agree that without Afghanistan in the cards, there simply isn't many issues for the federal Liberals to run on.

Let's take a look at possible choices that the Liberal leader might have. Well, there is the environment issue for one. Polling has consistently shown that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned with global warming, and increasing cold to Stephen Harper's position on climate change (but that is better suited for another article all together). The problem with the climate change issue is that the Harper people are more than keen to fight out an election based on Dion's record on that issue and many others. Also, the Liberals have to share the environmental issue with the NDP, the Bloc and the ascendant Greens under Elizabeth May.

As for any other issues, how does "Respecting the Independence of the Senate" sound, or "Standing up for a Thoughtful Approach on Crime" resound with voters? My guess is that neither of these issues would serve Dion's Liberals in an early election campaign. That being said, there are some voters, like myself that care about those smaller issues a great deal.

My guess is that Dion will likely try his best to avoid the pointed gun firmly pressed on his temple by Harper. The risk of fighting an election with no defining wedge seems to be greater than the risk of appearing any weaker than he has already appeared. Things couldn't get much worse for Dion, so he'd probably do better to wait a little longer. In another year, the economy will likely have slowed, perhaps even to the point of recession and that would make for a much stronger Liberal campaign.

The Liberals may not own any other issue, but at least in difficult economic circumstances they can always fall back on the old "Tory Times are Tough Times" line.

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