Canadian federal election 2011 .. will the numbers change dramatically by the end of the week?

Apr 10th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

Douglas Bell – a Toronto-based writer and occasional actor, who wrote for and acted in Ken Finkleman’s The Newsroom on CBC TV –.is “critiquing” the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign for the Globe and Mail.

We are looking out on the third or middle week of the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign, with the English language leaders’ debate coming on Tuesday, April 12, and the French language debate on Thursday, April 14 (UPDATE: er, make that Wednesday, April 13 now: it turns out Montreal has an important hockey game on Thursday: so the debate has been moved). The opinion polls are still saying that the Harper Government Conservatives have a substantial lead. (See, eg: “Conservatives could get majority: poll” and “Harper flirte avec la majorité.”)

Yet this past Friday Douglas Bell in the Globe and Mail nonetheless opined: “Harper best get ready to rumble … Michael Ignatieff’s already taken the Tories’ best shot and the debate is still ahead of us … Mr. Harper better bone up. Mr. Ignatieff is going to bring it on debate night –  and, if Jack Layton can tag in from time to time, my guess is that by the end of next week, the numbers will have changed dramatically.”

Many of us in Toronto would still be more than pleased to see this prophecy fulfilled. And I’d certainly count myself among this number. Even pretty dramatic changed numbers would likely do no more than give the present Harper minority government a reduced plurality of seats. Or, you might say, that is even the absolute best that could happen. But it would certainly be better than a Harper majority government at last – with all the God knows just what that just might entail (or almost certainly will, one way or another).

The big trouble is, of course, could it ever possibly happen, given what the opinion poll numbers are saying now – and their relative stability for some time, even before the election was finally called? My own feeling is that if there is any hope at all, of course, why not run with it? At least to the end of the third or middle week we are now looking out on. Has Douglas Bell, in the midst of his many other talents, ever been right about an election?  And if not, why not now? (To pick up on the refrain from old Montreal already lionized in these pages: “The Conservative Party of Canada, spreading fear and hatred for a better tomorrow. What could possibly go wrong”!)

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