Spring has sprung in the nation's capital and once more talk turns to a Federal Election.
The weekend's news columnists and the usual gadflies are rife with renewed speculation, rumours and gossip about sending Canadians back to the polls for another unwanted election by summer's end...fall at the latest.
Friday's edition of 'Le Devoir", Montreal's influential daily, claims confidential sources close to the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada say it is near certainty, the paper says 95% sure, that the official opposition will derail Mr. Harper's Conservatives and trip an election by the fall of this year.
The Liberal electioneering machine will engage following a series of planned headline making policy initiatives scheduled for discussion at the party's Biennial Convention which is being held in Vancouver from April 30 to May 2. That convention which was first set to select a new national leader following the departure of Stephane Dion, will instead officially sanction the choice of Michael Ignatieff as the unopposed party chieftain.
As for the ruling Conservatives; it seems they've held their mean spirited streak in check long enough. Operatives within the multi-million dollar Tory war-room in east end Ottawa have spent the past few weeks poring-over thousands of feet of video footage and images of Mr. Ignatieff to prepare for a series of negative ads on Canadian television in the wake of the Liberal convention and the arrival of summer.
Prime-Minister Harper himself set the effort in motion late last week in Moncton, New Brunswick accusing the Liberal Leader of having lost his "moral compass" for sending 70th birthday greetings to the former Conservative Prime-Minister, Brian Mulroney, a couple of weeks back.
Some observers believe...there's been speculation on the matter; that the testimony of the 20 or so witnesses who will appear before the Oliphant Commission could have a bearing both on the timing of a Federal election...as well as the outcome of the next national vote.
The Commissioner, Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, is set to resume hearing witnesses on Tuesday of this week in the pesky matter involving the purchase of Air Canada's thirty-four A320 Airbus aircraft back in 1988 when Brian Mulroney was Prime-Minister.
The Conservative salvo against Mulroney's Party membership two weeks ago as the commission of enquiry got underway was a move to further distance Mr. Harper from the former P.M. - It seemed instead to backfire causing a public rift within Tory ranks and even some sympathy for Mr. Mulroney.
On the other hand as I was recently reminded by my brother: The other protagonist in the matter, Karl Heinz Schreiber, has a knack for the gift of pulling rabbits out of a magic hat when the going gets tough. Noted just this week, the CBC-TV investigative program "The Fifth Estate" claims irrefutable evidence that the late Premier of Newfoundland and Mulroney confidant, Frank Moores, was in contact with both Schreiber and the President of Airbus at the time of the $1.8 Billion purchase of the airplanes in 1988. And...Victoria B.C. political commentator and former Mulroney Chief-of-Staff, Norman Spector, has been quoted saying that the Conservatives expect...well at least hope...that some Federal Liberal back room players and strategists from the same era - The Trudeau/Chretien years - may be smeared by testimony at the Oliphant Commission enquiry.
Another Liberal scandal card could be a nice hand against supporters of Michael Ignatieff in the eventuality of a Federal election later this year. While the Airbus airplanes Air Canada bought in 1988 are so old they no longer fly; the whiff of scandal surrounding their purchase remains intriguing to both major national parties - the Conservatives and the Liberals - for the same exact reason: Fodder for another unnecessary, nasty and expensive election.
The winner in this has already been determined: Karl Heinz Schreiber! By continuing to stoke the speculation, the stories and rumours of political scandal in high places, he remains free to enjoy the pleasures of his Rockcliff home in Ottawa and avoid the grasp of the European authorities who patiently await his extradition to face criminal charges in Germany.