(crossposted to CanadaEast)
It looks to me like Canadians will be going to the polls sometime before Christmas. Today's Throne Speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a stroke of political genius. Though it is not provocative enough to turn Canadians off, it does have some cleverly placed lines that make it very difficult for the Liberals to swallow, and, if they can swallow it in the short term, even more difficult in the long term.
First, the speech says:
It is now widely understood that, because of inaction on greenhouse gases over the last decade, Canada’s emissions cannot be brought to the level required under the Kyoto Protocol within the compliance period
Translation: The Liberals could have set us up to deliver on Kyoto but they failed, including under the tenure of Environment Minister Stéphane Dion.
The Liberals may be able to get past that and other triggers - though not without a lot of teasing and chiding from the Tories and other parties - but here is Harper's silver bullet:
In the last session, our Government introduced important and timely legislation to tackle violent crime. Unfortunately much of this legislation did not pass. That is not good enough to maintain the confidence of Canadians. Our Government will immediately reintroduce these measures with a single, comprehensive Tackling Violent Crime bill to protect Canadians and their communities from violent criminals and predators. (emphasis added)
So the Prime Minister will introduce legislation covering all of their crime proposals (perhaps including ending the long gun registry?) in one bill, which they have already implicitly indicated will be a confidence measure.
It is still unclear how and when an election will be triggered but it seems to me there will be one this year.
If the government falls on the vote on the Bloc sub-amendment vote on Thursday, an election could be held as early as November 26; a date that would be 7 years less a day from the 2000 election and not unusually late. A vote for the Liberal amendment on Monday or against the main motion next Wednesday would make for an election no earlier than December 3. The press was reporting that Dion had decided earlier in the day to go for an election but that his advisors were trying to talk him out of that. His brief remarks this evening indicated that he was pretty unhappy with the Throne Speech and sounded like he would likely be voting against it. However, my understanding is that most of the Liberal machine is well aware they couldn't win an election this fall and they will be aggressively trying to talk him down from that position.
Thus, it is my prediction that the Throne Speech will pass, but that in the coming weeks the government will fall on a bill deemed confidence. That, or the Prime Minister will simply call for an election due to "dishonest obstruction of the government agenda by opposition parties after they allowed the government's agenda that laid out these items to pass just a few weeks ago", leading to a vote on December 10 or 17.