Three new October orange wave in Ottawa theories .. Alberta surprise, UK repeat, progressive coalition ??

May 25th, 2015 | By | Category: Ottawa Scene

NDP leader Tom (“Thomas” actually sounds more electable?) Mulcair tells Ottawa reporters he believes the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to BC will never get built. Wednesday December 18, 2013. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press.

This past Friday two big names on the Toronto newspaper pundit scene explored the sudden surge of New Democratic support in Canadian federal politics, during a key election year.

In the Globe and Mail Jeffrey Simpson asked “Can a third orange wave splash across Canada?” And he finally answered : “The failure of the Conservatives to grow and the Liberals’ failure to seem like the inevitable alternative give the NDP a chance for a surprise.”

Meanwhile, in the Toronto Star Chantal Hébert was urging “Conservatives blind to growing desire for regime change.”  And she concluded : “Some Conservative strategists welcome polls that predict a three-way national race next fall because they think a more competitive NDP will create more opposition splits in their favour … Fair enough, but the subtext of those polls is also that an electorate increasingly driven to regime change … is willing to look at more than one option in the quest for an alternative to the current prime minister.”

As for recent opinion polls themselves, see : “NDP jumps into 3-way race with Conservatives, Liberals” ; “Federal NDP Slightly Ahead Of Tories, Liberals, Poll Suggests” ; “NDP leads Conservatives in four key BC ridings: poll” ; and “Sondage CROP: le NPD cartonne au Québec.”

Newly elected Alberta NDP MLAs line up in front of Government House in Edmonton to hear Rachel Notley’s speech before their first caucus meeting on Saturday, May 9, 2015. John Lucas / Edmonton Journal.

A recent telephone report from our hired gun with the New Democrats in the federal election helped me sort around my own current sense of the options lying latent in the latest polls. Which do seem to show the federal NDP getting a real boost from the recent big provincial election surprise in Stephen Harper’s home province of Alberta. What the current state of the art implies, as best as I can make out, is three different options or theories about just what may finally happen in the Canadian federal election on (the date seems virtually certain now) October 19 :

(1) ALBERTA SURPRISE ALL OVER AGAIN? As Éric Grenier and everyone else are still wisely stressing : “It is too early to say whether or not this [current federal NDP surge in the polls] will have a lasting effect on national voting intentions.” At the same time, he ends his latest report with “the election is now just five months away. An Alberta-induced surge does not have to endure very long to have an impact.” And given the enormous surprise of an NDP majority in Alberta, something similar at the federal level is no longer impossible to conceive.

* * * *

It might not take very much for Stephen Harper to win again ??

(2) UK CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY PRECEDENT? On the other hand, Chantal Hébert’s “Conservative strategists” who “welcome polls that predict a three-way national race next fall because they think a more competitive NDP will create more opposition splits in their favour” are not just whistling Dixie either.

Many Harper government partisans are no doubt hoping that PM Harper will finally manage to mimic David Cameron’s recent big surprise in the United Kingdom — and engineer a second Conservative majority of seats in Ottawa, even though the party’s share of the cross-country popular vote declines to considerably less than 40%!  (And this too now appears at least a little less unlikely than it did a month ago, say.)

(3) HARPER’S DREAD PROGRESSIVE COALITION AFTER ALL? My own instinct at the moment — of course subject to even significant change with five months still to go — is the new orange strength in the polls may just imply that the prospects of a post October 19 election progressive coalition presided over by Thomas Mulcair instead of Justin Trudeau have grown significantly. In any case the polling numbers right now still suggest a minority government led by one of Harper, Mulcair, or Trudeau, rather than any kind of majority government.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau disembarks from Canadian dream railway car, wondering just what the end of his honeymoon with the Canadian people might mean ???? He could bounce back. Or not ????

The numbers in the UK also looked more or less this way right until the last minute. And yet the Cameron Tories won a majority in the end. But while many Canadian voters may prefer none of the above at the moment, I think both Mulcair and Trudeau are more plausible alternatives to Harper than Ed Miliband was to David Cameron. And, again for the moment at least, I personally believe some form of Liberal–NDP or NDP-Liberal co-operative regime in Ottawa probably would be the best government for the country right now, from the standpoint of broader public interest. Only time of course can tell what will finally happen in the real world.

Meanwhile again, the hardcover version of Stephen Harper’s hockey book is now selling for a dramatic discount at the BMV bookstore in the Annex, here in the city of Mr. Harper’s birth and youth. (He did not move to Alberta until he was 19 years old.) I bought a copy on my way to a focus group meeting on Friday night. And as the group’s resident legal advisor predicted, if I actually do read it I’ll post a review at some point over the next few weeks. (Or so … )

The dark horse en famille, at Christmas. Are Canadians starting to take a second look, inside and outside Quebec?

And finally who knows just where the new era in all of Canada inaugurated by the swearing in of Rachel Notley and her new minimalist and entrepreneurial Alberta New Democrat cabinet yesterday will ultimately take us? And of course maybe nowhere in particular at all. But maybe, at least, it really will prove to be a new era of some sort. Leading down who knows just what garden paths to a brighter future … On and after October 19 …

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