The Canadian federal election of 2011 .. truth or dare?Dec 13th, 2010 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief
[UPDATED DECEMBER 17, JANUARY 24, 31, FEBRUARY 16, MARCH 4, 9, 16, 23, 25, 28, 30, MAY 3]. Staggering “home from a seemingly endless succession of Christmas parties” in Ottawa, John Ibbitson reports: “If conventional wisdom, that most dubious of sources, is to be believed, the 40th Parliament is not long for this world. Shortly after it resumes in February, goes the reasoning, the Conservatives will bring down a budget that no opposition party can support, forcing an election.”
On closer inspection, Mr. Ibbitson seems to feel that none of the minority governing Conservatives, official opposition Liberals, or unofficial opposition New Democrats necessarily has any truly good reasons to want yet another federal election at any point in the coming year 2011. Yet: “The leader of the provincial Parti Québécois, Pauline Marois, is unpopular, and Mr. Duceppe has flirted before with the idea of switching to provincial politics, though the PQ’s victory in a November by-election might make that more difficult. If the Bloc Québécois Leader does decide to try for Ms. Marois’s job, all political bets are off …”
Meanwhile, back in the ancient Canadian fur trade metropolis, Chantal Hébert has just calculated that: “According to a recently published CROP poll, the Parti Québécois would sweep Quebec if Duceppe became its leader … But Pauline Marois’ numbers are also good enough to ensure a PQ victory in the next provincial election. Unless a British Columbia-style crisis decimates Quebec’s provincial leadership lineup, Duceppe is unlikely to have the opportunity to follow Lucien Bouchard and Charest on the road that leads from Parliament to the top job in the National Assembly any time soon …”
Adding Mr. Ibbitson and Ms. Hébert together seems to give a conclusion that violates the conventional wisdom. Ie, those who are truly thirsting for some big federal political excitement in Canada next year are (probably) doomed to disappointment (if necessary, but not necessarily disappointment, or is it doom?).
Against all this, with no sources of inside information at all (beyond our deep insight into the various diverse modern minds that make up today’s Canadian people [peuple canadien, from Halifax to Iqaluit to Victoria, etc, etc]), we would just offer one final word of half-support for the argument that the 40th Parliament is not long for this world. As best we can make out, almost all messages from Ottawa say that almost all the American actors on an English stage there are terminally fed up, in both official languages. The deck needs to be reshuffled — even if this does wind up giving everyone essentially the same hand.
Of course, like everything else in politics nowadays, this could be quite wrong. Meanwhile again, if you are already thirsting for something completely different, you might do worse than try our latest entries under the bar at the top of the page: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz … DECEMBER 9, 2010: USA PRO AND CON (gay rights, equality, Limbaugh on no votes for poor, and Niagara Falls, NY) ; and/or ONTARIO TONIGHT — Monday 13 December 2010 : Who elected Ombudsman Marin, part deux (and/or G20 report overkill caught in the act)? Whatever, keep your eyes open on the same space: Someone on staff here is going to return from a very long holiday party in Canada’s most hated city soon, and crash together another update on the quiet jungle of Rob Ford.
UPDATE MAY 3: Well it’s all over today! See the counterweights editors on “A historic unnecessary election .. probably .. and now there’s only one party responsible for the next four years” … (And yes Virginia, the answer to the “one big question” noted immediately below is YES … As far as “what would happen” etc, we will just have to wait and see!)
UPDATE MARCH 30: The way things look right now, one big question about the Canadian federal election of 2011 is will the Harper Conservatives win a majority of seats in the elected branch of Parliament at last? And what would happen if they did? See Citizen X on “Would Harper majority government in Canada be like Cameron-Clegg coalition government in UK?”
UPDATE MARCH 28: So the campaign is now in motion for the Canadian federal election of 2011, which will take place on Monday, May 2. The early polls are still suggesting some kind of Harper Conservative majority government (of seats in Parliament that is); see, eg: “Poll: Tory support stays high despite ethics debate.” But we have not given up hope for something more reasonable that will serve the majority of actual Canadians better. See our “There is an alternative to a Harper majority and it isn’t a ‘coalition’ (or yet another Harper minority).”
UPDATE MARCH 25, 12:30 PM ET: Assuming all goes according to schedule in the Canadian House of Commons, the Harper Government will fall one hour from now, and we will be on our way to a spring election at last. Randall Palmer at Reuters has an interesting article on the broader picture: “Harper to push for elusive majority.” Our own resident Ontario historian Randall White believes that, whatever else, the coming election will have some practical benefits for the country. See his “Canadian federal election 2011 is its own economic action plan!”
2:22 PM ET: Just under an hour later than indicated above, the Harper Government has been defeated, 156–145, on a “Contempt of Parliament” motion of non-confidence, for the first time in Canadian history (and perhaps even in some wider history of parliamentary democracy?). Now, “PM to visit Governor-General Saturday morning” (ie tomorrow) — after which the exact date of the election (probably May 2, 2011?) will be announced.
UPDATE MARCH 23: Now the plot has thickened definitively at last. See our “Is there any hope for a PM Ignatieff “supported either formally or informally by the NDP”?
UPDATE MARCH 16: Two weeks from now say, at the latest, or perhaps as early as March 25, we should at last know whether it is finally going to happen, in the real world of Canadian federal politics (if that kind of language isn’t an oxymoron in its own right). Meanwhile, see Citizen X on “Does anyone really believe PM Harper Government doesn’t want a spring election … etc, etc, etc?“.
UPDATE MARCH 9: The latest twist is that the opposition majority is exploring ways of defeating the minority government, in one respect or another, by focusing on abuses of power rather than economic management and the budget. See Randall White’s “The Canadian federal election of 2011 : can opposition get Harper on abuse of power instead of budget?” And note various TV and press reports today: “Election-hungry opposition keeps snapping at Tories” ; “Speaker’s ruling could open door to election push” ; “Kenney takes heat over ‘award of excellence’ bearing Tory logo” ; and “Wounded soldier denounces aid plan … A major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers.”
UPDATE MARCH 4: The utter truth won’t be known until after the federal budget on March 22, but we now seem closer than ever to an actual election, even if it doesn’t make all that much sense from some points of view. Meanwhile, doubts are being raised in some quarters about just how much trust can be placed in the endless parade of opinion polls on party standings. See our “The Canadian federal election of 2011 : was Diefenbaker right about polls?“ For some fresh skepticism on whether there actually will or at least should be an election, somewhere around May 2 or 9, see John Ibbitson on “Why a leftward tilt is hobbling Michael Ignatieff.”
UPDATE FEBRUARY 16: There was growing momentum in early February. But some would now say a new batch of opinion polls has thrown cold water on itchy trigger fingers in Ottawa. Others are not so sure. See “Does new Conservative strength in polls mean no spring election in Canada?” (Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for another update on the quiet jungle of Rob Ford. We’re told it’s coming soon.)
UPDATE JANUARY 31: The plot continues to thicken on this front. See: “Per capita party subsidy issue not as good for Cons as PM Harper thinks?” ; “What about job-creating tax cuts for jobs that are actually created?” ; and “How much longer can 40th Parliament of Canada live on?“. The first cold week of February 2011 that lies immediately ahead should make the picture at least a little clearer … maybe. Stay tuned.
UPDATE JANUARY 24. Two more recent reports on this site contemplate the ongoing prospects of a 2011 Canadian federal election: “Will Con-NDP ‘coalition’ be big Ottawa surprise of 2011?” and “Could emerging new political Iggy be closer to holy grail than we think?” We still believe there is more and more black magic in the cold winter air, from coast to coast to coast, that prophesies a 2011 election — but, again, of course we could be wrong!
UPDATE DECEMBER 17. Note two further contributions, more or less related to the same broad themes: our own Randall White on “Holiday political polls in Canada … anyone with vision comes to this decision — don’t make up your mind! ” ; and a fresh report from John Ibbitson, “Ignatieff set to trigger election call in New Year.”