The National Post published an opinion piece today in which they give six reasons why it’s time for a federal election. Here’s why they’re wrong:
1 and 2 David Emerson and Michael Fortier. As other Cabinet ministers have blown up around the Prime Minister, his two most controversial picks have justified Mr. Harper’s confidence in their basic competence. But throughout the life of his government he has been pursued by the black clouds of original sin they brought with them:Mr. Emerson was elected as a Liberal, and Mr. Fortier, whisked into the Senate in the name of geographic expediency, has not yet been elected by anyone at all. Considering how much his enemies have made of their irregular status, the Prime Minister is surely entitled to use an election as a means of forcing the issue one way or another. (Fortier has his eye on a Quebec seat; Emerson has not yet declared his intentions, but may drop out of federal politics altogether.)
Hmm, so we need seats for two cabinet ministers, and that’s why we need a general election? If only there was a way to call an election in just a couple ridings at a time… oh wait, there is, it’s called a by-election. There was one in Montreal a while ago and Fortier lacked the fortitude to run. Emerson would never resign his seat anyway because the Cons haven’t held it in decades. National Post, you just got served by Captain Obvious.
3 The strength of the governing party is not the only relevant consideration involved in judging the legitimacy of a particular House of Commons composition. Canadians are not just entitled to vote for an opposition member: They are entitled to an opposition member of their choice. Even if overall Conservative strength ends up unchanged, the polls occasionally offer some hope that the Bloc Quebecois may give up ground, which federalists of all stripes ought to favour in principle. And surely Green Party supporters should be grateful for their big chance to smuggle leader Elizabeth May into Parliament under Stephane Dion’s overcoat at long last.
Maybe the Bloc will be reduced? I’m sorry but the Bloq’s imminent demise has been predicted by various federalists ever since Bouchard left federal politics. Maybe the Bloc will be eliminated, and maybe the sun will shine out of Harper’s ass.
4 If we are going to have another minority Conservative government (opposition supporters can’t really argue against an early election on the basis that they might win it), we might as well have one that has access to the best available ministerial and secretarial timber. Before the last election, outstanding Conservatives in private life could not be sure that Stephen Harper was a capable campaigner worth suspending a career for. Having exceeded all expectations, he could hardly be blamed for wanting to shake things up and see what surfaces in a new caucus.
This is a nice way of saying that Harper’s ministers have been lackluster. The National Post is apparently hoping that talented Conservatives in lucrative private-sector jobs would want to work under a micro-managing control freak for less than they probably currently make.
5 A closely related point is the increasing difficulty Harper has had in meeting the geographical specifications of Cabinetmaking. Too much of the intellectual strength and experience of the current Conservative caucus is located in Alberta and B. C.; the Conservatives can only lose ground in Alberta, and B. C.’s electoral map is volatile, but compensating Conservative gains elsewhere would be better for the country (given the premise of a likely Conservative victory) and would make life easier, in a desirable way, for Harper.
Again, this is a nice way of saying that the federal Conservative talent pool is only an inch deep in most places.
6 If there is a point six, it must come under the vague heading of “general democratic principles.” Since when was frequent consultation of the country a luxury and a nuisance? And when did we agree to leave the setting of an election date in the hands of pollsters? No one really knows what the outcome of the election will be: What’s certain is that the Prime Minister is not taking advantage of any obvious transitory scandal or outrage in the ranks of the opposition. Although the Liberals are cash-poor, they have been given more time than they could have expected to prepare for an election. The public has been given time to digest and debate the details of Stephane Dion’s Green Shift plan.
When did we agree to leave the setting of an election date in the hands of pollsters? We didn’t. I seem to recall Harper calling for fixed election dates. Nay, not just calling for them, but legislating them. If anyone is a pollster slave, it’s Steve himself.
There is no good reason for an election now, save for political opportunism.