An Unorthodox Prediction

Unless a miracle occurs, the Liberal minority government in Ottawa will fall and we’ll be in a rare wintertime election campaign. Last time that happened was in February 1980, when Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservative government fell and Trudeau did his comeback, during which he repatriated the Constitution. That’s because winter elections simply aren’t practical in our climate. Mind you, I’m not shedding any tears for the politicians who’ll have to deal with the slush and snow. Rather, I’m thinking about how it would be unfair if the vote were impeded by a blinding snowstorm anywhere in this vast land. Voter turnout has been going down in the last two decades, so talk about making a bad situation worse.

A lot of people, myself included, believe we’re heading towards another Liberal minority government. As for the date of the election, it will be on January 16 or 23, but we’ll only know on Tuesday after Martin drops the writ to the Governor General. Neither is better or worse, in my opinion, although I’d prefer the 16th to get it over with as soon as possible. And wouldn’t Martin himself prefer as short a campaign as possible to prevent his adversaries from gaining any momentum?

But Julie at MaZe predicts the election will be called for the 23rd. Even more interesting, however, is her prediction of a Liberal majority government: 156 Lib, 75 Con, 55 BQ, 19 NDP, 1 IND. I’m certainly not challenging her prediction; it simply goes against expectations.

Even though the campaign hasn’t officially started, Harper has already had his first faux pas by stating in the House that the Liberals have been found to have links with organized crime. Nowhere in his report does Gomery make any such accusations. Granted, when Canadians heard testimony last spring of cash-stuffed envelops exchanged in restaurants, many felt they were reading the script from an episode of The Sopranos. However, in fact, the scandal was never about organized crime as we’ve come to understand the meaning of that term. Even with criminal charges pending, we’re still not talking about organized crime!

Essentially, Julie’s prediction numbers suggest a direct shift from the Conservatives to the Liberals. But I think it will be a bit muddier. I think the BQ, which currently has 53 seats in Québec, could win 58: Liza Frulla and Pierre Pettigrew will most certainly be toast, but some Liberal wins in 2004 in some Montreal-area ridings (e.g., Brossard-la-Prairie) weren’t exactly landslides. Ontario and British Columbia (to a lesser extent) will be the battleground for this election, though. But I think that even if the Liberals do well in Ontario, we’ll still be left with a minority, with the NDP really holding the balance of power this time. So I say:

Jan. 16; 145 Lib, 80 Con, 58 BQ, 25 NDP, 0 IND

It still irks me that the NDP, which garned 15.69% of the popular vote nationwide, only got 19 of Parliament’s 308 seats (i.e., 6% of the seats) thanks to our antiquated first-through-the-gate system. And speaking of which, Prince Edward Island is holding a plebiscite today on the adoption of a form of proportional representation provincially…