Tipping Point?

Well, the situation has changed considerably from when I wrote this article initially. More facts have come out and some decisions have been taken. I’m not going to take this post down, because I believe that I’ve said something in the public realm and I have to live with the consequences, but after reading this article, you should know that I’ve posted an update here.

Not all of the facts are in, yet, on the tape of Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal being offered a Liberal plum to prop up the government, so I respect the fact that the mainstream media has to be cautious in its approach to this story until they get a full transcript. However, as a private citizen, I think that enough evidence has come in for me to say this much:

Tim Murphy (Prime Minister Paul Martin’s chief of staff)? Joe Volpe? Ujjal Dosanjh?


Thank you for justifying the cynicism that Canadians had built up around the political process. Thank you for living down to Conservative expectations. Thank you for making your power-grubbing so friggin’ obvious that it can get CAUGHT ON TAPE AND DISPLAYED FOR ALL TO SEE.

It’s amazing. I’d already decided that the Liberals had lost the moral right to govern this country, but particular MPs and cabinet ministers keep on setting the bar lower. One wonders what else they no longer have the moral right to manage. A business? A PTA meeting? The construction of a doghouse?

I can see people wanting to see these people lose their job and not ever find another, to lose their homes and end up on the street. And, frankly, I’m beginning to think that this is what they deserve.

The Conservatives’ Western Surprise

As frustration and cyncism sets in over the Conservatives inability to swing the Canadian body politic over to them, the blame game has started up again. If the Conservatives fail to take power in the next election, it will all be Ontario’s fault. Ontario better do as we say this time, or else we’ll take all our marbles and go separate.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you want to stop the unfair practise of 40% of the voters granting more than 60% of the seats on this province, kill the first past the post system. It’s broken, and this Ontarian isn’t afraid of instituting some democratic changes.

Unfortunately the Liberals, who have benefitted the most from FPTP, aren’t all that interested in changing the system. Another strong enemy is the Bloc Quebecois, who retain far more Quebec seats than is merited by their Quebec votes. Of the mainstream parties, only the NDP has consistently spoken out on the need to change the way we choose our parliamentarians. The Conservatives have made noises about it, but excluded it from their platform at the last policy convention — because of the benefit they derive from FPTP in the West, perhaps?

Many Conservative voters seem to assume that Ontario will go bloc Liberal, and that the West will go bloc Conservative, and that the next parliament will be about having the Western bloc face off against the Ontario bloc. However, they might want to look back on their own base before preparing to speak on behalf of all westerners. Although I predict that the Liberals will lose seats in the next election, the big surprise will be that the Conservatives will lose seats too, primarily in the West.

The West went bloc Conservative in the last election due to a mixture of FPTP and some bad strategy by the Liberals. Alberta has for a long time been a sea of Conservative blue, but Saskatchewan returned Conservatives at exactly the same rate — to the surprise of many. What happened, in the final days of the 2004 campaign, was that the Liberals went on a fearmongering binge calling upon NDP supporters to vote Liberal in order to forestall a Conservative victory.

The move may have saved a dozen seats in Ontario from going Conservative, and prevented a half-dozen seats from going NDP, but in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where the dynamic was Conservative-NDP, the bleeding of NDP support to the Liberals resulted in more Conservative seats, not less.

The good news for the Conservatives is that Liberal fearmongering isn’t going to work a second time. NDPers in particular have had a year to see Paul Martin in action (or is that “inaction”?) and have cause to say that, however bad Stephen Harper could be as Prime Minister, it’s unlikely that he could be worse than Martin. They’re not interested in forsaking the NDP to save the Liberals bacon and forestall a Conservative victory that doesn’t look nearly as scary now as it did a year ago.

In Ontario, despite Belinda’s departure, this probably means that at least six more seats will go to the NDP, primarily in Toronto and Hamilton, and that at least a dozen seats will go to the Conservatives, primarily in eastern Ontario. One seat (Ottawa Centre) may go from NDP to Conservative while another (Oshawa) could go Conservative to NDP.

In the prairies, however, NDP support outpaces that of the Liberals, and NDP voters aren’t going to fall for the same trick this time, seeing the disaster that resulted for them. Regina and Saskatoon may kick out Conservative MPs, as could portions of Manitoba. The NDP are competitive in BC where the Liberals used to be. Only in Alberta will the Conservative sweep be complete.

If present trends hold, the NDP is going to get at least 40 seats in the next election. Most of that will come from the Liberals, but some will come from the Conservative west. The NDP are — or, rather, were — a national party-in-hiding.

The Government Will Fall Today

I predict that the government will fall today on a 151-152 defeat of the NDP budget amendment. Ed Broadbent and the sick Conservative MP will pair off their votes and be absent. Chuck Cadman will also be absent. David Kilgour will vote for the Conservatives. Alternately, if Chuck is in the house, he will vote for the Conservatives, making the vote 151-153.

The election will take place on June 27, 2005 and the vote results will be as follows:

Conservatives: 120
Liberals: 90
Bloc Quebecois: 58
New Democrats: 40

If the campaign goes badly for either the Conservatives or the Liberals, the primary beneficiaries of the disaffected votes will be the New Democrats and the Greens. The most popular second choice for Liberal and Conservative supporters alike is, believe it or not, the NDP. Indeed, here’s my wild prediction of the month: if the campaign goes badly for the Conservatives, we may be looking at Prime Minister Jack Layton.

Update: Carolyn Parrish Out?

After posting the above, I came across this piece of information from the CBC:

The latest twist came Thursday morning, when Independent MP Carolyn Parrish cancelled an appearance on a CTV program, saying she might have appendicitis and could be too sick to attend the vote.

If Ms. Parrish is actually sick, I’ll send her my apologies and condolensces but, correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t one of the clichTs on how to get out of a tricky exam to fake an appendicitis attack?

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