Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My take on the Throne Speech: an election by December 17

(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.

7 comments:

NB taxpayer said...

Good points. It's funny because I sensed the same thing, in that, [he] will ultimately use his executive powers to trigger a snap election. (on the exact reason you gave)

To be honest, I think there have been a few heated discussion in the PMO on whether or not it was good political strategy/timing to bring forth the fixed election legislation in a minority parliament when they did, especially when you have an unpredictable and weak opposition leader with an organization stumbling behind him. Don't get me wrong, I like the bill, but not the timing.

As for tax cuts, what took them so darn long??? lol

CuriosityCat said...

Imagine the disadvantage for the Liberals of fighting an election where Harper has been voted out because of his tough on crime law. He would have captured the motherhood issue of all issues, playing to his strength as the tough guy of Canadian politics, and being able to cast the Libs as wimps who are soft on crime ...

If he can make that stick for four weeks, he will have his majority.

The time to pull him down is now, using the twin Liberal principles of a strong federal government, and an environmental policy which tracks that of the EU and Kyoto benchmarks, rather than the nonsensical Bushian intensity targets.

Ti-Jean à Maxime à Louis said...

Your analysis is probably right regarding a Violent Crime Bill that would be designated as a confidence vote.

But, for many reasons, the Tories will introduce it next spring not before Christmas.

nbpolitico said...

Jean - it would appear from the throne speech that that is not the intent as it says, "Government will immediately reintroduce these measures".

Anonymous said...

Where are all the comments about provincial report on the PSEC? Oh I forgot this is a liberal blog. The fact that this Government wants to close a University makes me ashamed to be a New Brunswick citizen. To have senior bureaucrats in Fredericton say what's the big deal why are Saint Johner's so opposed to change? And they are saying this. What's the big deal? Let's close UNB Fredericton or STU and see how they feel about it. The fact that Saint John has 6 members of the Liberal party yet they still want to shaft the City like this is unacceptable. Is Mike Murphy stronger then the Saint John six combined? He seems to be keeping the report on the trauma centre under wraps.

Maybe this is the message, people in Saint John are stupid. Hmmmm we’ve neglected the community college system for years, the building is in rough shape lets close it move it to the UNBSJ facility and call it a Polytechnic. They’ll lose the University but most of the people in Saint John are so stupid they won’t catch on and realize what’s going on. Those that do won’t remember in four years time. Or is the message this, we like what’s happening in Saint John but if you want an education come get it in Fredericton.

Today is October 18, 2007 I don’t believe what Dr. Ed has to say and I’m about ready to leave this shitty province. I was hoping a change in Government would be good for us instead these morons are worse then the previous morons. I’ve had it, I have literally had it. I’ve never contributed to this blog in the past but have read it. I’m having a bad day and am at the end of my rope literally.

Anonymous said...

I hope you mean figuratively...or are you from Saint John:)

Anonymous said...

The fact that this Government wants to close a University makes me ashamed to be a New Brunswick citizen. To have senior bureaucrats in Fredericton say what's the big deal why are Saint Johner's so opposed to change? And they are saying this. What's the big deal? Let's close UNB Fredericton or STU and see how they feel about it. The fact that Saint John has 6 members of the Liberal party yet they still want to shaft the City like this is unacceptable. Is Mike Murphy stronger then the Saint John six combined? He seems to be keeping the report on the trauma centre under wraps.

Maybe this is the message, people in Saint John are stupid. Hmmmm we’ve neglected the community college system for years, the building is in rough shape lets close it move it to the UNBSJ facility and call it a Polytechnic. They’ll lose the University but most of the people in Saint John are so stupid they won’t catch on and realize what’s going on. Those that do won’t remember in four years time. Or is the message this, we like what’s happening in Saint John but if you want an education come get it in Fredericton.

Today is October 18, 2007 I don’t believe what Dr. Ed has to say and I’m about ready to leave this shitty province. I was hoping a change in Government would be good for us instead these morons are worse then the previous morons. I’ve had it, I have literally had it. I’ve never contributed to this blog in the past but have read it. I’m having a bad day and am at the end of my rope literally.
I think Saint John should seperate from New Brunswick. Yeah thats right study that. Saint John has had the job growth the economic development we're going to experience more. Yet we continually get crapped on. I say no more next election lets vote all these bozo's out!