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What’s scared Harper into suddenly wanting an election?

Let’s recap how sudden a change this has been from Harper the last couple of weeks. Danielle Takacs had a blogpost on this, and she recalls the timeline:

So on August 13th he’s taunting Dion saying he doesn’t have the guts to bring him down – basically daring him to do so. Then Harper calls a by-election he didn’t need to in Don Valley West for September 22nd…Then just days later when absolutely nothing has changed, and after being so sure there would be no fall election, Harper decides to throw up his hands and say “Parliament is dysfunctional!” This is when he knows full well nothing has changed and any “dysfunction” is due to Harper and the 200 page Conservative chaos manual all his MPs have on how to disrupt Parliament themselves.

I will add that during the same time frame, we had a Hill Times article which quoted an anonymous Conservative strategist as predicting Dion would not take the government down, but even if he did want to, the Bloc wouldn’t, in this guys opinion. He predicted they’d still be governing into the spring. Again, quite a 360 from these folks who were expecting to govern into 2009.

So what is Harper afraid of all of a sudden? Is he afraid of heading back to Parliament to answer tough questions? Is he afraid the economy is going south and only getting worse, and perhaps his fiscal numbers are headed for red ink? Is he afraid of more embarrassing revelations of former conservative candidates opposed to the Conservatives “in and out” scheme at the Ethics Committee? Maybe the Bernier hearings? Is he afraid of the by-election results giving the Liberals some momentum headed into the fall session? Is he afraid that Dion’s Green Shift plan is resonating more then the Conservatives are willing to publicly concede – as evidenced by the overflow crowd that came to hear Dion in Halton last week?

My guesses:

1) Harper knows the economy is going to tank in a few months, or he’s going to be in the red with his next Budget, so he prefers to go now then later, when he and his government and Mr Flaherty would take more heat over mismanaging a Liberal surplus into a deficit situation in less then 3 years.

2) The Committees looking at the in-and out scandal will be highly embarrassing for him, as perhaps will the actual court case result against Elections Canada.

3) He knows he’s faring crappy in the 4 byelections, knows he wont win any of them, and doesn’t want Liberal momentum going into the House this Fall.

4) A combination of some or all of the above.

In short, this election call is based on fear and of him wanting to control the situation. Another example of the control freak Stephen Harper is, tinged with fear. A “quitter”, as Jack Layton has called him. As I have said however, I don’t mind going to an election, and I welcome it. In my opinion, the sooner we remove this right-wing Conservative government from power, the better. It’s now time to convince Canadians of that as well. I believe we will.

UPDATE: This is going to be one issue that Harper and company can’t run away from:

..the federal agency responsible for food safety this year began to let the industry conduct its own food testing, The Globe and Mail has learned. A leaked cabinet document that outlined plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process raised the ire of opposition politicians last week. However, some of the plans have been in place since March 31, according to a CFIA manager and an official from the union that represents the federal inspectors.

My colleague Pogge is correct: Those of us in Ontario remember Walkerton all too well, and remember that a lot of the federal cabinet ministers in Harper’s cabinet from Ontario were in Mike Harris’s Ontario government at the time and responsible for that fiasco/tragedy. We should be all over them for attempting to implement “The Walkerton Model” (H/T Greg for that phrase) and transferring it to the food inspection agency, with tragically predictable results. They need to be hammered on this over and over. Public safety has been sacrificed either in the name of saving a few bucks due to the worsening budgetary numbers, or the Conservatives ideology, or both.

12 comments to What’s scared Harper into suddenly wanting an election?

  • I have often thought Harper and his crew needed a Canadian Cronkite.
    Today I wonder if the left’s much despised Margaret Wente hasn’t taken on the role.

  • If what you say is true about that outbreak, Harper may well be in serious trouble. After all, it was a federal agency that implemented those new “inspect when you get around to it” rules; and nothing happens without the go-ahead of Harper’s PMO.

  • Tricia

    @wilson -According to the latest from Tom Flanagan, Harper IS out to decimate the Liberals. Latest headlines in National Newswatch.

  • Gayle

    A logical post Dave, though I would point out that the polling numbers were better last spring, and the fall before that, and the spring before that…

    Obviously Harper was not interested in breaking his “fixed election date” promise then, but now he is willing to do so. That suggests to me there is more to this than you say.

  • dpat

    16085. Rick said on August 27, 2008 at 12:58 pm:

    “My theory, Dion pissed off Harper by constantly mentioning that he held the keys to the next Election – Harper didn’t like that and so he is pulling the plug.”

    So what you are saying is that we are facing a general election a year ahead of Harper’s legislated time frame because Harper threw another one of his chair-kicking tantrums. Very responsible governance style.

  • Darlene

    @wilson
    Everything Harper does is not about you Liberals.

    That’s really funny considering everything else was the Liberals fault. I’ve been reading your posts now for months on this and other sites and I find your quote quite amusing.

  • I’m not sure what evidence there is that Harper has been scared into anything election related.

    It seems pretty evident that the PM has manufactured this ‘crisis’ and is successfully framing the debate around the ‘impending’ election. I would assume that the Conservatives are planning an election because they believe they can increase their seat total, which is generally why all political leaders do this very same thing…

  • wilson

    Harper got into the history books, longest running minority govt in Canadian history.
    Next, crush the Bloc.

    Yes, trouble looms on the horizon. But when doesn’t it?
    Every day, week, month, some trouble looms, that’s life in politics.

    But the stars are lined up to give the Bloc a boot of unprecedented proportion.
    Desimating the Bloc has ALWAYS been #1 to PMSH.
    As it should be to the Libs.

    Everything Harper does is not about you Liberals.

  • Rick

    It’s not a fear of deficit – “Ottawa to easily avoid deficit, board says” – http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/486334

    It’s not bad polling in Quebec, as Wilson mentions, new CROP poll out, Tories on top – http://translate.google.ca/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cyberpresse.ca%2Farticle%2F20080827%2FCPACTUALITES%2F80826207%2F5050%2FCPPRESSE&sl=fr&tl=en&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

    My theory, Dion pissed off Harper by constantly mentioning that he held the keys to the next Election – Harper didn’t like that and so he is pulling the plug.

    The Election is coming, no need to rehash why or whether it is justified. It is coming, and it should be fun to watch. I can see how both the Tories and Libs could have a minority or a majority, and it will be fun see how it plays out.

  • wilson

    Perhaps being tied with the Bloc, 10 points ahead of the Libs, in Quebec, has something to do with it.
    new Crop poll out.

  • Don’t discount the contents of Julie Couillard’s book either. Convenient that it is due out on October 14, the projected Election day. Could indicate why Harper couldn’t wait a week….

  • Margaret Bedore

    I agree. This is a big deal in Ontario. We all remember Walkerton and the Harrisites have taken this ideology to Ottawa. Ritz lied on The House and said the plans were just discussion.

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