Canadian federal election this fall looks less and less likely?Sep 16th, 2009 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1:30 PM EDT. [UPDATED SEPTEMBER 17]: The New Democrats have now made clear that they will join the Bloc Quebecois in supporting the Conservative minority government’s ways and means budget motion this Friday, September 18.
Only a little reading between the lines of NDP spokesperson Thomas Mulcair’s remarks also suggests that his party will be supporting an upcoming government employment insurance reform bill — after making sure that it actually will deliver on the commitments promised by human resources minister Diane Finley.
At this juncture at any rate it seems likely enough as well that the New Democrats will continue to support the Harper government for long enough to avoid a fall election. (Though whether Ms. Finley’s EI bill can “pass through the committee stage and be subject to a final vote in the House of Commons before the Liberals present a non-confidence motion later in the session remains to be seen” — along with exactly what the NDP may do about the anticipated Liberal motion.)
Meanwhile, a Toronto Star survey of 1,002 Canadians completed this past Sunday by Angus Reid Strategies shows, Canada-wide among committed voters, Conservatives 36%, Liberals 29%, NDP 17%, Bloc Québécois 10%, and Green party 7%. The poll also suggests that the Conservatives hold a “commanding 12 point” lead in Ontario, and that 58% of all voters Canada-wide are “against any move by the opposition to topple the Harper government.” So, if you are one of the 42% who apparently now wouldn’t mind an election, don’t hold your breath.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 17, 1:30 PM EDT: John Ibbitson and Jane Taber at the Globe and Mail are now reporting that the New Democrats “will also side with the government when the Liberals introduce a motion of no-confidence, expected in the first week of October.” [Although for what may or may not be yet another wrinkle here, see Joan Bryden's Canadian Press piece today: "Liberals offer to speed EI bill ... The Liberals have offered to speed passage of Tory EI legislation, hoping to rob the NDP of its rationale for propping up the Harper government." And see too Bill Curry's Globe and Mail article: "Parties near deal to fast track EI bill ... House Leaders meet after Liberals announce intention to speed legislation through Commons, removing NDP's 'alibi' for keeping Tories afloat."]
Mr. Ibbitson and Ms. Taber call the three parties that will now be voting together on the government’s ways and means motion tomorrow “Harper’s reluctant coalition.”
(Former Brian Mulroney chief of staff Norman Spector argues in the same newspaper that the word “coalition” here is not technically correct, at least if you say “coalition government.” But that seems a bit like splitting hairs: and presumably the editors of the Globe and Mail, along with John Ibbitson and Jane Taber, are right about the acceptability of “reluctant coalition” too.)
Mr. Ibbitson and Ms. Taber also suggest that the “ winner in all of this, politically, may well be Michael Ignatieff.” This thought has no doubt occurred to others, including ourselves. Mr. Harper may one day wish that there had been yet another Canadian federal election in the fall of 2009. (Or not, of course. Even a day can be a long time in Canadian politics, etc, etc. Or even several hours: the impact of the apparent pending deal to fast-track the EI bill, added to this update above around 5 PM EDT on September 17, now seems something of a fresh question for the Ottawa caculating machines! Who knows: there may even eventually be an election sometime this fall, or early winter, or somehow soon enough?)
For an update on Canadian federal politics as of Friday, September 18, 2009, see L. Frank Bunting’s In Brief report: “All fired up and ready to go in Canada?”