Well at least we now know what this election it about. Michael Ignatieff wants to become Prime Minister.
He’s willing to do it the traditional way – by winning more seats than the Conservatives – but as that’s not going to happen, plan B is to lose and still become Prime Minister.
He made this clear just this past week in an interview on the CBC, but presumably, this was the plan all along: Hold the Tories to a minority. Defeat them in the first vote in the House of Commons. Cut a deal with the NDP and the Bloc. Then form a Liberal government.
But what deal will they cut?
At this point in the campaign, the Liberals hope to win 90 seats. But with their campaign going from bad to worse, 70 seems more likely. The Liberals hope to hold the Conservatives to about 150 seats – 5 short of a majority. But clearly it’s going to be a nail-biter. And a Liberal government scratched together in these circumstances would be the weakest, least stable government in Canadian history.
We could have another election in no time – and that might be the best we can hope for.
As the price for their support, Iggy’s partners would be able to demand anything they want. On the social policy front, we’d end up with the NDP platform – which would be fine for a while, until the country goes broke.
But what about the Bloc? The PQ is posed to win the upcoming Quebec election, and they intend to introduce another referendum. So what will the Bloc ask of Iggy? Perhaps they’ll demand that the federal government stay out of the referendum – offer no defence of Canada whatsoever.
I believe Iggy would say no – surely he’s that much of a Canadian. But then the Bloc would pull the plug on the Liberal government and we’d be into another federal election and a separation battle with Quebec at the same time. In other words, heads the Bloc wins, tails Canada loses.
On the other hand, would a Conservative majority be so bad? The Conservatives have provided competent government, and as Stephen Harper never tires of pointing out, our economy isn’t perfect, but it is the envy of the world.
And the last Conservative budget – the one voted down by the Liberals – was in fact a Liberal budget, containing no threat to social programs. On the contrary, it was full of small expenditures for every needy group in the country. Paul Martin might have written that budget.
I know this makes no difference to dyed-in-the-wool Liberals. Political affiliation is a tribal thing. For many, being a Liberal, Conservative or NDPer is part of their identity. It’s not primarily about policy at all.
I understand this perfectly, as I used to belong the NDP tribe. Unfortunately, I became a political refugee because of the NDP’s hostility toward Israel and its supporters (including me). On the other hand, now that I’m without a political tribe, I think I can see better.
I often do vote Liberal. In the past, I’ve campaigned for the Liberal candidate in my riding. This time around, though, I’m voting for stable government and for Canada. I’m voting Conservative.