Stephen Harper keeps insisting he doesn’t want an election. He repeated it yesterday when delivering an economic update in New Brunswick.
But down deep, is that what he is really thinking? The way the scales have tipped in his favour the last few weeks, he finds himself in position to make a good run for a majority government.
We shouldn’t be surprised, given his craftiness, if he brings forward measures that make it extremely difficult for the New Democrats — the only party propping up his government — to continue to support him.
The PM’s only weak spot is in Quebec. He got a lift there yesterday with the embarrassment inflicted upon the Liberals with the resignation of their Quebec lieutenant, Denis Coderre.
Up until now one thing that could be said about Michael Ignatieff’s leadership is that, in comparison to Stéphane Dion, he brought discipline to the Liberal party. Now even that is in doubt. Iggy is being called Iffy.
The prime minister’s report on his stimulus plan yesterday was vague, perhaps deliberately so, perhaps intended to get the opposition parties more worked up. The government continues to claim the vast majority of its motherlode of stimulus projects is underway.
The opposition insists the number is a paltry 12 per cent. The government’s Building Canada website doesn’t help clear up the discrepancy. It’s a jumble, suggesting the opposition might have a point.
The Conservatives have spent $34 million in taxpayer money promoting their economic action plan. When the media found no less than 40 photos of Harper on the action plan website, making it look like the money was being blatantly used for political purposes, the Prime Minister’s Office staged a guilty-looking retreat and had the photos removed.
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Yesterday in the Commons, Transport Minister John Baird was at pains to dodge questions on the matter, giving total non-answers.
No matter. The Conservatives are in the driver’s seat.
A poll released yesterday showed that by a wide margin — 48 per cent to 30 per cent — Canadians believe the country is headed in the right direction.
That’s quite a compliment for the government when you consider the economic hard times, the burgeoning deficit, the government’s doddling approach to the environment and the downward direction of the war in Afghanistan.
On the face of it, Canadians don’t really have much reason to be upbeat. But when they look around, when they look at the stumbling Liberals, when they look at the problems in the United States and other countries, they don’t feel so bad. Harper knows this. What he says about the wisdom of holding an election should be taken with a grain of salt.