Thursday, October 11, 2007

As go the provinces?

In light of the elections in Newfoundland and Ontario, Harper should be re-thinking the wisdom of provoking the opposition with an impossible to swallow throne speech.

Danny Williams is a classic Red Tory and is vocally, unambiguously opposed to Harper's dark blue Tories making Newfoundland unfriendly territory for Harper. McGuinty's win in Ontario can't be considered a good sign for the federal Conservatives there and even in Alberta the Conservatives are showing some wear and tear.

A campaign in Quebec that hammered away at the unpopular Afghanistan mission and the even more unpopular Conservative environmental record could quite easily either hold them to their current seat count or even reduce it, and a national campaign could be the very thing Dion needs to re-invigorate the palsied Liberal brand.

Bottom line: No matter what he does, Harper can't make substantial, sustained improvements in the Conservative poll numbers - if he was ever going to be in majority territory, he would be by now. The stark central problem for the Conservatives is that Canada isn't a conservative country.

A campaign without well-timed RCMP announcements or the sponsorship scandal fresh in everyone's mind could as easily deliver a healthy Liberal Minority as a Conservative one. The Conservatives didn't win the last election, the Liberals lost it and enough voters may have decided to take them out of the penalty box to send the Conservatives back to the opposition benches.

If Dion plays attendance tricks to sustain the government over the throne speech it would be gutless and unprincipled, and he could also be outsmarting himself.

Liberal travails aside, it's Harper who should be nervous about facing the voters.

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