Folks the fix is in. There will be no election this spring. You may reset your agendas to the fall.
Little wonder why this morning, Canada's News Agregator, "National Newswatch" reset the Election Fever Meter down from 35% just a few days ago to a mere 5%. A combination of developments just this past week have converged to ensure the Liberals don't go trigger happy and defeat the Harper Conservatives.
There's first an enormous money crunch down at the "ol' Grit corral" here in downtown Ottawa. Though it wasn't necessarily needed the rumour has been confirmed. The Liberals, still paying-off debts from the 2007 Leadership race, were out- collected on an average of six to one by the Conservatives in January, February and March.
The jury may still be out on whether it was that massive shortfall that caused the Party's National President, Senator Marie Poulin, to have a stroke and quit two weeks back, or the other way around. But the reality is that even with all the election talk this winter, the Liberals raised less than $850-thousand dollars, even out-paced by the NDP's $1.1 Million, and the Tories whopping $5-million.
Just as telling, perhaps even more so, is the number of party faithful who cracked-open their chequebooks for the donations. The Conservatives at 44,000 donors. The Liberals 10,000 contributors.
Liberal Party wags confirm to today's issue of the "Hill Times", the Parliamentary newspaper, that Stephane Dion plans a nation-wide tour over the summer with a three pronged approach to bolster his image and raise donations; deal with the struggling Party support in Quebec; and launch a strong offensive against the Harper Conservatives.
The Liberals blame a series of attack advertising against Mr. Dion paid for by the obviously cash rich Conservative Party HQ in Ottawa for his on-going public persona struggles. In Quebec the "Bloq" is in a dead-heat with the Conservatives leading public opinion polls, and the Liberals trail at about 20%. The Party has really never recovered from the revelations of the 2005 enquiry into the advertising scandal. To that end,word on the street is that Dion will visit each of Quebec's 75 Federal ridings over the summer. Virtually since Confederation,the Liberals have needed Quebec's support to win Federal elections.
On the nation-wide leg of the tour over the summer, Mr. Dion's "ace-in-the-hole" platform attacking the Conservatives will highlight two crucial planks. The Liberals believe the Conservatives will be seriously compromised over the country's razor-thin budget provisions as the economy continues to weaken...and may be forced to cut programs and spending to avoid a deficit. Secondly, over at Liberal Headquarters there is an expectation, more like a belief, that criminal charges will be laid by the RCMP and Elections Canada over the "in and out" election fracas implicating Conservative Party Headquarters back in the 2006 Federal Election. Besides the television images of the police raid on the Tory HQ three weeks back, the story hasn't had much traction with Canadians. The Liberals believe though that if criminal charges are laid, that'll shake things up!
If events conspire as they expect, to create this "perfect storm"; the Liberals will force an election after Parliament's summer hiatus and we'll be marching off to the polls before our American brethren down south. Expect the evolution of the Liberal strategy to unfold no later than this week's question period(s) in the House of Commons.