|I decide when ...|
The third debate is over. No-one blew their brains out. No-one surprised the audience. The race will be decided by March 4, when each of the candidates will be able to compare the number of supporters they signed up in each of the 308 ridings, calculate that number as a percentage of the total members and supporters signed up in each such riding, multiply that percentage by 100 to get their probable share of the riding's vote, and add these all together.
So by the afternoon of March 4 rumours will be sweeping the country about vote counts come the official election day in April.
But between now and March 4 are a few more debates, lots of signup steps, media interviews, journalist comments, and bloggers waxing eloquent.
Daniel D. Veniez, a former LPC candidate for the House in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country in the disasterous 2011 election, gives his tuppence worth in today's Huff Post Canada Politics:
While I may differ with Joyce Murray on some of the content of her program, she has proven herself to be one tough cookie and a very serious candidate. Besides her track record of actually winning contested nominations and close elections, she has positioned herself squarely as an important voice on the "progressive" wing of the party.
Murray has a thoughtful, comprehensive, and cohesive set of ideas. And whether I like it or not, Murray has shown a lot of guts to be the lone voice and intelligent advocate for "cooperation" with other parties.
I agree with Daniel. The race is now between Justin Trudeau and Joyce Murray.
The others should be commended for running, should all run in one of the 300 or so ridings that do not have a sitting Liberal MP, but stand no chance come March 4.
In the two-person race between Justin Trudeau versus the reformer, Joyce Murray, the usual measure of the amount of money raised is no surefire predictor of success.
The tens of thousands of Canadians who might be signing up right now to become Supporters and to vote, will not all be sending in dollops of money to any candidates. But they might well be listening to their peers in the Leadnow and other electoral reform organizations, and stepping up to the plate to swing their bats for meaningful electoral reform.
And in this ballpark, Justin Trudeau comes off wanting.
He has been underwhelming in coming to grips with the massive democratic deficit we suffer due to our system of electing our MPs, which makes millions of votes worthless by only giving weight to the FPTP system of counting. Changing the tone of Parliament is just plain nonsense, when votes are sent to the trash heap because of FPTP.
Joyce Murray has struck a chord with her fierce fight for significant electoral reform.
There were dubious efforts by some of the other candidates during the third debate to misrepresent her pre-election call for an electoral ceasefire.
It is not by any stretch of the imagination a proposal for a merger with the NDP or for policy cooperation between the Liberal and NDP parties in the 2015 parliament. To suggest otherwise is to deliberately decei ve Canadians, not a pretty sight to behold in people who aspire to be prime minister of our democracy.
Simply mistating her proposal, as Trudeau, Garneau and others did, does not change her realistic assessment that most Canadians, for good reason, want Harper to lose his majority government status come the next election.
Go back to the third debate: the most applause, that seemed to come from many in the audience, broke out when Murray said forcibly that Canada needs to oust Harper and his new Tories.
That is what the polls have shown consistently for over 3 years now, and voters know that cooperation pre-election and post-election to bring about electoral reform is essential.
Justin Trudeau has been light on policy, promising to engage party members and supporters in the formulation of the election plank after the leadership race is over. The problem is this, from Tim Naumetz in the Hill Times Online:
The federal government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to fast-track its request for a decisive opinion on whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to limit Senate terms and establish a nominee election system for Senate appointments without provincial consent is constitutional...
The motion filed at the Supreme Court on Feb. 6 also asks the court to put the federal constitutional reference on a list of cases being set to be heard by the court, which at the current time is scheduling cases into the court’s fall sessions this year...
“The Government of Canada has brought this reference to settle any perceived legal uncertainty concerning proposals to reform or abolish the Senate,” says the motion filed by Justice Department lawyers Robert Frater, Christopher Rupar, and Warren Newman.
“It is highly desirable that the reference proceed in the near future to permit the court’s opinion to inform this important debate,” the motion says.
Harper knows that Trudeau is the likely leader of the Liberals, and that polls have shown a resurgence of support for the Liberals if that happens. He knows that he would be facing the next generation of leaders if that happens, having lost his own mantle of being the young lion fighting toothless older ones for leadership of the country.
He also knows that if Joyce Murray pulls off an upset, the prospects of even a minority Conservative government in the next Parliament, and of a Royal Commission being called to examine meaningful electoral reform followed by a new election using a new system of voting, spells doom to his neoconservative movement.
So what is he going to do? Get rid of some older, tired cabinet ministers, with a bunch of new faces in new portfolios taking over in a few months' time. Then, as the press have reported, prorogue Parliament to deliver a new Throne Speech in the next session, spelling out his election policies, as John Ivison reports:
Politics is set to make a comeback in Ottawa this summer, with a Cabinet shuffle, followed in the fall by a prorogation of Parliament, a Throne Speech and a brand new pre-election agenda from the Conservative Party.
In minority government, the Tories knew they could be 36 days from an election at any given time. “Every single day was spent deciding which message to drive,” said one former senior Conservative insider. “Majority government is a different mode of operating – it is an opportunity to govern.”
Stephen Harper has spent the past two years focused on implementing his agenda – striking a free trade deal with Europe, reforming the public service, overhauling immigration, ensuring the sustainability of long-term programs like health transfers and Old Age Security and streamlining the review process for big resource projects.
But at some point he will switch back into constant campaign mode and all the signs suggest the reset button will be hit this summer.
So, lets put two and two together and see if they add up to four.
The Liberals choose a younger Trudeau who has promised to waltz around the country for the next two years or so, inviting Canadians to join in extra-Parliamentary discussions of where the country should go. This means Harper has to share the limelight with Trudeau, and his tight-fisted control of the national political space (through the use of omnibus laws to ram through changes without debate in Parliament, to his continuous muzzling of his MPs, and his reducing the time for debate in the House) is gone.
Poof! Suddenly he will face an uncontrollable national debate, with Trudeau introducing new ways for members and – worse still, supporters and other Canadians – to participate in debating and formulating new policies. Topped by a Liberal convention to pass policies.
What a nightmare for a man who's political DNA consists of 90% control genes, 5% superiority, and 5% legacy dreams!
Or, perhaps, if those who want electoral reform walk their talk in the short time left until March 4, Joyce Murray wins.
An even worse nightmare for Harper.
A resurgent Liberal Party, campaigning in 2015 on giving Parliament back to Canadians, making votes actually count, changing the way our MPs work together in our House so that they have to consider all points of view, and working to prevent the vote splitting which is the major reason why Harper has been in power for so many long, depressing years.
So, let's look at the first thing (the chance to drive a wedge between the opposition parties, rattle the Bloc, throw red meat to his fiercest supporters, all through a platform for Senate reform or perhaps Senate abolishment). In this framing, Stephen Harper suddenly becomes the reformer, while Trudeau, if he is Liberal leader, is the old-fashioned, the Senate is good enough as it is, out of date contender.
Now the second thing: timing. Why on earth would Harper wait until 2015 to hold the next election? Why not steal the time advantage from the Liberals and NDP, call an election in early 2014, leaving Trudeau scrambling to find candidates in 250 plus seats, without having stolen the limelight with his cross-country fireside talks?
One and One make Two.
My bet is on an early 2014 election.