Wednesday, May 4, 2011

 

HECK! THE "FAT LADY" WAS JUST TUNING-UP

The election's flotsam, jetsam, entrails and campaign signs have yet to be fully picked-through...much less analyzed; but we're just starting. Increasingly in Canada, jurisdictions at all levels have moved to set predictable, stable, fixed election dates.

Of course the Federal Parliament has had a "set" election date since the winter of 2006 - A date which, for as many reasons as you may rattle-off, has been conveniently ignored by the government of the day on three separate occasions in the last 5 years: But I digress.

Provincially, Prince Edward Island and the North West Territories (okay, not a province) will go next (and first) on October 3, 2011; Manitoba the next day, October 4; then followed by Ontario on October 6; Newfoundland and Labrador, October 11; and lastly Saskatchewan on November 7. Yes, it sounds very much like a summer of perpetual electioneering from coast to coast. No doubt good for the print and advertising businesses which struggled through the recession but damned annoying - Nay! Expensive, for taxpayers assailed by the bickering, the partisan attacks, the advertising and the costs we ultimately all share.

Of course that's the very predictable product of fixed election dates: Perpetual campaigning because the politicians know exactly on which date the voters will turn out. There is not a more inauspicious and obvious example than down south of the border where the Presidential elections, coupled with the mid-term Congressional face-off, mean that the campaigning never stops. The next Presidential election is in November of 2012 but the contenders are already lined-up at the trough. Little wonder it's so damned difficult to get anything positive accomplished in the USA.

Clearly it's already started here: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is playing down the potentially career shortening consequences of Monday's federal wipe-out of Liberals in Ontario and pretty much everywhere else. Mr. McGuinty told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper that..."No previous election has ever been a perfect predictor of a subsequent election." Though to be safe, in the next few weeks Ontario families will receive the third of the installment cheques, totalling just about $1000, in rebate for last July's HST implementation. A little summer spending booty of our own tax money as the election campaigning ramps up.

Newfoundland and Labrador, like Prince-Edward Island, bucked the trend in the Grits national humiliation. Newfoundland's provincial election follows Ontario on October 11. Though it didn't make much difference on Monday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale who was appointed last December has been much more conciliatory towards Prime Minister Stephen Harper than her predecessor Danny Williams. Williams had famously counselled Newfoundlanders in 2008 to vote A-B-C / Anyone but Conservative! In fact Mrs. Dunderdale's biggest issue may be the implosion of her own Progressive-Conservatives before October's provincial vote. An ominous sign noted when the former Premier, Mr. Williams, refused to attend his own farewell dinner organized by the Dunderdale troops a couple of weeks back.

Westward in Saskatchewan tensions were obvious last fall between Premier Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party supporters and their Federal Conservative brethren when the Harper Government kiboshed the sale of Potash Corporation to BHP Biliton an Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate. Mr. Wall's government though holds a massive majority in the Regina Legislative Assembly and the November 7 provincial election is unlikely to effect any groundswell change.

As in the case with the Harper Conservative breakthrough of 2008, and made the more succinct in Monday's "Orange Crush" courtesy of the New Democrats; Quebec's next provincial face-off is the most ambiguous. Though the province, like Alberta, doesn't have a "fixed" election date. - The current term of the Charest Government expires in 2012. I've speculated earlier that "Bloc" Leader Gilles Duceppe would jump to provincial politics after Monday's Federal Election. (See: "A Question Of Leadership" April 17/11). That's almost a "done deal" in the aftermath of the BQ's demise on Monday and Mr. Duceppe's sudden resignation. Facing a potential breakthrough of the "Parti Quebecois" with Gilles Duceppe as leader, the unpopular Premier Charest may pull the plug on the National Assembly before the former Federal BQ leader gets any home province traction. The light to illuminate Mr. Charest's ultimate decision could be a lucrative Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) deal with the Harper Government which would see Quebecois get "cheques in the mail" bigger than Ontarians'. Charest's plan B could always be to seek the Leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Oh the irony!

Then we can all make way for Alberta in 2012, and British-Columbia on May 14th, 2013...just 750 more days of campaigning left to go before that one.

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