The Race is on! Canadians go to the polls October 14.

I thought I’d start a new thread to replace the MPSIMS since it’s now official, not just a rumour - Canada goes to the polls on October 14 in a general federal election.

Prime Minister Harper drove across the street this morning to Rideau Hall and asked the Governor General for a dissolution of Parliament, which Her Excellency was graciously pleased to grant: The Race is On! Harper calls election for October 14

So, since the election’s been called, I guess we’re into full election debate mode here in GD. That way, there will be at least on GD thread that doesn’t deal with Sarah Palin. :wink:

To start off, do you think that Prime Minister Harper will be hurt by his decision to call an election, without having been defeated in the House and without complying with his own fixed election date legislation? especially since he himself has said that he anticipates another minority Parliament? or will all that be accepted by the voters as politics as usual?

And for our American Doper friends: please note that in Canada, we’re going from a standing start in our election shortly after the close of the Republican Convention, with the vote being held, and potentially a new government being sworn in, before you folks get to vote in your election. We keep it short and sweet up here. There’s only so many adverts of Stephen Harper in a sweater vest that we can tolerate.

Ok, I’ve not been following Canadian politics, thanks to a new job, the Olympics, and our own political silly season. So please, what is the crisis which requires and election, or did the Conservatives think they had a good chance of getting a majority in a snap election, and if so, why?

From what I’ve seen, things in Canada have been chugging along fairly so-so, without much real unhappiness, though admittedly without Great Things either (the curse of minority government).

I doubt it. This kind of thing just isn’t an important issue for most voters.

Actually, the way things are going right now, he could actually end up with a slight majority. Of course, it’s still too early to call.

The “crisis” is that PM Harper claims the opposition parties have been preventing Parliament from working correctly with their obstruction tactics. He’s been trying for many months to lose a confidence vote in order to finally be able to call elections, but opposition leader Dion didn’t want to help him (probably because he knows this election won’t improve his situation). So Harper decided he’d call the election anyway. In other words, there really isn’t any crisis, it’s just Harper hoping he can get a majority.

It can be. One of the reasons David Peterson’s Liberals were wiped out in the 1990 Ontario election was due to backlash over his calling was appeared to be a purely opportunistic election.

As a guy who voted Conservative in 2006 I admit the government has managed to go from generally pleasing me to pissing me off in just a month, and part of it is the election call. It violates the spirit, if not the letter, of C-16 (the fixed date election amendment) and their stated reason for calling it is flatly a lie. I also find the recent spate of industry handouts, especially the ones to GM and Ford, infuriating. Paying money to GM and Ford is financially equivalent to setting the money on fire.

I’d vote Liberal if it wasn’t for the fact that the “Green Shift” is ludicrous. So I’m stuck.

I would PRESUME Harper’s plan is to win a majority. The only other conceivable reason is that there’s some Conservative-Liberal secret plan to squish the Bloc Quebecois, which would make me extraordinarily happy, but I doubt they’re anywhere near that smart or altruistic.

see, that just proves that it was a dysfunctional Parliament. The opposition wouldn’t do what the PM wanted! How dare they refuse to vote non-confidence in his government!

Well, if I understand how the lie of the land stands, the election call seems to me a pretty long gamble. The Conservatives would have to pick up roughly 30 seats to be certain of having their way, and with the economy the way it is, I’m not sure I can see that everyone in Canada is going to jump on the Conservative philosophical bandwagon, even if the opposition parties aren’t exactly organized and up to speed. So if Mr. Harper is calling an election that isn’t really going to change the lay of the land in the Commons, and the Conservatives had promised not to call an election before 2009, isn’t it likely to backfire at some level??

Is there a pressing issue nationally in Canada that is likely to drive the debate in this election? I can’t believe that the Conservatives are idiots, so a snap election seems to mean they really think they can grab a majority, which means there must be SOMETHING they think they can grab hold of and run to the polls with…

Of course, the real question is:

Would the conservatives win if Sarah Palin was running?


Actually, I suspect that the result of this election is that we’ll have more or less the exact same situation that we do now; a conservative minority. It would be very interesting to see a Liberal/NDP coalition though. Interesting in the same way a 30 car pile up is “interesting.”

From the results of a CBC poll taken after the sabre-rattling started, Harper and the Conservatives were ahead in the polls just far enough that they could win a slight majority. The next five weeks will tell.

Isn’t October 14th the start of Sukkoth this year?

I don’t think the early election call will affect anyone’s opinion. For those of us that dislike Harper, it’s one more reason to call him a bully. And for those who admire his ‘leadership’, they seem to consider that good tactics.

I think a huge reason for calling the election early is that Harper feels the economy is going to take a large downturn and he doesn’t want to wear the horns for it.

I think that if the Liberals emphasize the whole team, they will come out in better shape. Other than Harper, the Conservatives are vulnerable for having some pretty dim bulbs - even the Cabinet is big on obedience, short on brains. Your opinions may differ, but why else are Jim Flaherty (Gods, I hope if nothing else he goes down in ignominy!) and Peter McKay the only ones allowed to speak to the national press without Harper’s thumb in their backs?

Interesting times.

No crisis. The polls are showing a slight edge for the Conservatives as a party and a substantial edge for Harper as a leader (with Dion actually in third place). Harper sees this as an opportunity to at least ‘renew his mandate’ and at best to eke out a slim majority. It looks like the campaign will be run as leader-centric with ‘confusion’ about the green shift being a secondary recurring theme. That second is going to be reinforced by the Liberal leader’s inability (at least in English) to articulate how it will work. And the election is not going to be the forum where that can happen. Kim Campbell was right about that, at least as modern campaigns are waged.

For me, the black hole and great unknown is Quebec and the BQ. I have no idea how Quebec is going to split nor do I know how the Bloc will behave after the election. I don’t think I’m alone there.

Well, this is the kind of move that can indeed piss off more politically inclined folks, but I don’t think most Canadians really even knew what the fixed election law meant. The opposition parties will try to attack Harper with it, but I’m not convinced it will stick. Even I (who likes to think he is politically aware enough) won’t begrudge Harper so much for this move, even though I know his reasons to call the election are bullshit. I think we’re going to hear more about Afghanistan and the rightward shift of the government (regarding culture for example). I’m probably not going to vote for the Conservatives, but this election isn’t the reason why.

If the Bloc loses ground in this election, it will be to the Conservatives, not to the Liberals. Dion isn’t going to attract voters who would potentially vote for the Bloc, so Harper doesn’t need him if he wants to defeat the Bloc. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m one of these potential Bloc/Conservative switch voters, but this time the Conservatives haven’t impressed me much, so unless something drastic happens my vote will go to the Bloc.

There’s is also the fact that should the liberals not gain a significant number of seats (or lose a few seats in Quebec/Ontario) Dion may be dragged into a leadership convention in 2009. That basically throws the main opposition party into chaos for a year (hopefully less). That places the Tories back to where they were in 2006, which for Harper is a win. It gives him more time to influence the basic premises of political dialog in Canada.

That was actually Reform’s greatest accomplishment - shifting the acceptable centre to the right.

Hypnagogic Jerk - Without wishing to antagonize you, may I ask why? I had sensed from an earlier thread that we were poles apart in our viewpoints, and while I disagree with you, I respect your right to a point of view other than mine and want to understand that point of view more.

I, personally, would never vote Bloc, PQ or Yes in a referendum under any circumstances, entirely because I do not believe separation nor the threat of separation are viable solutions. Stated to respectfully represent my position, not intended to provoke…

I’m torn–slightly. But only slightly, because there isn’t anyone I can get excited about. I don’t like Harper or his government, that’s a given, but Dion just… besides, I’m still angry at the federal Liberals for things that happened under Chretien, fair or not. Dion hasn’t been able to win back my vote, and I used to go between NDP and Liberal, but now it’s NDP or Green. Green, if I vote with my conscience about things that matter to me.

Actually, I get two votes–my husband will ask me: “Honey, who am I voting for?” He might even write it down so he remembers. (He is not a political creature.)

The only thing that is a positive is, as mentioned above, the time between calling the election and heading to the polls is blessedly short. That, and it seems that with paper ballots and pencils, there isn’t the whole Dybold/hanging chads/whatever cloud hanging over the process.

I’d complain about having to suffer through a federal election, but honestly, it could be Zimbabwe, and we’re damned lucky to have the politicians we do. It could be worse.

The “parliament is not functioning” is a load of steaming horsesh*t, in my opinion. It’s a pretty lame reason for calling the election–could he not have found a more plausible excuse?

The one thing that Harper has done that I do like (and I’m left-wing) is raise awareness of Arctic sovereignty. That will be a very interesting issue in the future…

If we combine that it’s going to be a bitterly fought campaign, the unlikeliness of the current stalemate being broken, and the fact that it’s happening the day after Thanksgiving, this will probably be the election with the lowest turnout in Canadian history.

I’m going to venture a prediction on the outcome of the race: I say Canada will beat the U.S. to the polls by a comfortable three-week margin.


Well, I’ll do my only personal campaigning of the 2008 election; Please vote for any party other than the Bloc.

Is the Prime Minister free to call an election whenever he wants? If he doesn’t like the results, can he turn around and call another one?

Does the Governor General have the authority to say, “Get bent,” or is asking her purely a formality?

Do you see this as an advantage? Does it allow for lesser-known candidates to establish themselves as viable options or does it tend to result in a reshuffling of the usual suspects?

I live in a riding where the Conservative candidate could win if he burned children at the stake in front of the Husky gas station.

I cannot abide Mr. Harper and I think Mr. Dion is an inept ninny. But since we don’t vote for our PM, my opinion doesn’t matter much one way or the other.

But I find myself thinking more and more about Afghanistan. Another Canadian soldier killed there this morning. About 100 now - “equivalent” to 1,000 Americans if we go by population. What for?

One of my cousins just retired from the Army. He is a high-ranking officer, and he was with the first Canadians to go to Afghanistan. While he is pretty closemouthed, he nonetheless makes it pretty clear that he is fed up with the whole thing. His anger is largely directed at the US for what he sees as their harebrained invasion of Iraq and inattention to Afghanistan. And he has also come to believe it’s all a waste of time anyway, unless we are prepared to stay there for a very long time.

Are we? I’m not, as an individual. The latest death brought tears to my eyes. Two young men from my little town have been killed. This is true of little towns all over Canada.

I think this should be an election issue. I wonder if it will be. I have always thought that Mr. Harper admires Mr. Bush more than he should, and was sucked into this whole mess by reasons that had little to do with what might be best for Canada.

I’m a Harper fan (I think he’s actually one of the best leaders of any country around at this moment - a pretty low bar, but he’s over it).

However, the election call does piss me off as well. I hate it when people who style themselves as reformers get elected and do the very things they fought against. But in the real world of hardball politics, the problem with this kind of reform is that if you promise to hold fixed elections and stay true to your word, but your opponents won’t do that when they’re elected, you just wind up permanently conceding a tactical advantage.

Anyway, since Harper has actually come through on more of his promises than Cretien or Martin or Mulroney did, I’ll cut him a bit of slack on this.

I don’t like the pork being thrown around in front of the election either.

And Harper IS right that the Parliament is dysfunctional. When Liberals continue to bail on vote after vote to avoid causing an election, their constituents aren’t getting very good representation. Too much of our day-to-day governance is dominated by political strategy rather than what really needs to be discussed and voted on. But if Harper gets another minority, nothing there will change.

Why was the election called? Because Harper has decided that the battleground currently favors the Conservatives more right now than it would later, of course. Party because the Conservatives have recently undergone another bump in popularity and pushed Harper within striking distance of a majority. And party because there are storm clouds on the horizon that could make an election fight in the next few years very difficult for the party in power. The economy, energy, Afghanistan, security issues with regard to Russia and Pakistan… We’re heading into a rough stretch, and Harper doesn’t want to fight an election in the middle of it. Especially if the economy goes into the tank.

Also, the Liberal’s “Green Shift” has turned out to be a disaster for them. It’s confusing, and it promises to raise energy prices at a time when high energy prices are a key concern of the voters and Global Warming seems to be losing its political traction somewhat. And of course, it’s absolutely hated in the west, and primarily in Alberta.

I’d be interested in hearing specific things that Harper has done that you don’t like. I thought he’d had a pretty good year, even from the Liberal point of view. He’s lowered the GST, which was something the Liberals ran on under Chretien. He’s been rebuilding the military, and he’s asserted sovereignty over Arctic waters and building new ships to patrol them (a critically important issue completely ignored by the Liberals. The importance of this will become apparent soon with Russia becoming more aggressive and the northwest and northeast passages opening), and I honestly haven’t seen a lot of culture war stuff going on. My impression of Harper is that he’s been governing as a center-right moderate with a good deal of horse sense.

He does have some idiots in his cabinet, and there are a few yokels in the government, but Harper is clearly the leader and doesn’t let them push him around or do anything really stupid, other than to themselves.

I have to admit my dislike of Harper is “personal”. I see him as smug, and since I am not a Christian fundamentalist, I don’t like that aspect of him, either. As PM he does not parade it about in the American fashion, though, and I will give him points for that.

To be honest, I have little interest in this election beyond the war in Afghanistan. I think the election call was wrong, for the reasons you bring up. Will he get a real majority or will the numbers in opposition stay about the same and just switch around between Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP?

Our economy is affected to such an enormous extent by what happens in the US that I don’t see any good news coming to anyone on that front.

As a good little citizen I guess I should try to work up some enthusiasm, but it is difficult since we all know from the getgo who will be elected in our riding. I intend to work as a Returning Officer, though, as I usually do. (Although I haven’t heard yet.) That is a really good thing to do, proving once again that our old-fashioned paper ballots are the best way to go.