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…

{5} Thoughts on “An Unorthodox Prediction

  1. I’m going for Jan. 23 simply cause Jan. 16 would mean the debates would need to be happening in the first week of January (before Jan. 8) and many people might take this whole week off and won’t be in front of their TV, meaning poor ratings. And the Liberals usually do good in TV debates (in part cause they are bilingual and Alliance/Conservative are not). Liberal don’t have much to gain about the debate from the BQ but they could score some very important points against the PCC. This is why Martin will go for an election on the 23rd in my opinion.

    As far as Frulla and Pettigrew, I doubt they’ll be toast. the “B4” group (I call them B4 because they were 4 that were named ministers before getting elected and they were elected in ridings redder than red : Dion, Pettigrew, Frulla, Robillard) is quite strong. Not cause they are good but cause they were “pigeon-holed” in 100% red ridings…

  2. Ah! Your logic for the 23rd makes a lot of sense. By now it also seems like most pundits agree with you that it’ll be on the 23rd.

    However, I’m not so sure about the “redness” of some of the Montréal-area ridings.

    — Liza Frulla got in with less than 100 votes.
    — Pierre Pettigrew won by only 1 percent.
    Ahuntsic went to the BQ in 1993 and Eleni Bakopanos won it in 2004 with 43.8% versus the BQ’s 41.3%, which is pretty close.
    — I agree, though, that Stéphane Dion in Saint-Laurent-Cartierville and Lucienne Robillard in Westmount-Ville-Marie are very safe .

    Unrelated but… Any idea what’s up with the riding of Beauce? It’s one of the only predominantly francophone Québec ridings outside Montréal that never voted BQ. Yet that’s coeur du Québec, isn’t it? Provincially the region seems to go Liberal or ADQ rather than PQ, so maybe it’s just that it’s a very conservative part of Québec?

  3. Wow. thanks for those numbers! Especially about Frulla…

    And yes, I know Ahuntsic went to the Bloc in 1993 *ahem*. I think the BQ had a great team for that election… young, dynamic people (like me!) 🙂

    …That’s before Michel Daviault (then BQ MP of Ahuntsic) decided to become campaign manager for the BQ and managed to loose the same campaign BQ bus twice in the same day, precisely the day after Duceppe decided to visit a certain cheese factory… He was replaced as campaign manager the next day. The guy is nice and all. But perhaps he was a better MP than Campaign Manager…

    And it might be worth mentionning that the main reason why Ahuntsic went from a blue to a red riding is because they redesigned the riding. Bakopanos was elected in another riding before (from memory more like St-Denis/Jean-Talon area, which makes perfect sense considering her ethnic background that could appeal to those voters) but had to switch to Ahuntsic (which was right before held by LPC Céline Hervieux-Payette if I remember correctly, now senator and also the one Daviault got to beat in 1993). Hervieux-Payette stepped down to let Bakopanos run, and in return, Hervieux-Payette got a nomination at the Senate. .. That redesigned of Ahuntsic frustrated quite a good number of voters. Ahuntsic used to be all blue (Jean Campeau in Quebec and Daviault in Ottawa. Now it’s all red…)

  4. As for Beauce, I don’t know so I’m only speculating. But I would think that the fact they are so close to the US border, they prolly want to vote for a party that likes the US to make their own life easier. When your neighbours are only a few feet away, do you really want to elect someone that will P*ss them off? Then, they’ll have to show a passport and the whole shabang just to go visit grandma that lives 5 minutes from home, but south of the border??? The same thing usually happens in Edmunston, NB…
    Plus, usually, grants and loans for industries comes from Industrie Canada and not from the BQ. So I could see the value of voting “du bon bord” to preserve their local manufactures and industries.

  5. Very interesting about the redesigning of the Ahunstic riding. The constant redrawing of the electoral map is certainly not without controversy; the big redistribution that took effect for the ’04 election was probably more widely controversial, as was Acadie-Bathurst, for instance. And once upon a time, Moncton and Petitcodiac (but not Dieppe) were together, which gave the conservatives a better chance at the riding.

    Unrelated, I was thinking about overlapping federal and provincial ridings after I posted this entry. The Halifax riding has been NDP since ’97, but once (in ’97), Halifax West also went NDP. Interestingly, however, if one were to superimpose the provincial map, we’d see that there are big pockets of NDP support in Halifax West, although not enough to take the seat away from the Liberals. Same with Dartmouth. But I think in this province, which has one of the strongest support base for the NDP in Canada, many have been convinced of voting Liberal to prevent the Conservatives from getting in.

    As for Beauce, good speculations. It’s not unlike the Outaouais region tending to vote Liberal because of individuals’ stake in the federal public service in that area. Practical, down-to-earth considerations do play a role in such places. It’s still odd (in an “interesting” kind of way) how that region stands out from the rest of Québec.

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