Okay, time to put my money where my mouth is. Here’s my prediction for tomorrow’s election:
Conservatives: 136 – 154 seats. Best guess: 143 (i.e., same as before)
NDP: 64 – 73 seats. Best guess: 67 (up about 30 seats)
Liberals: 53 – 61 seats. Best guess: 56 (down about 20 seats)
The Bloc: 40 – 46 seats. Best guess: 42 (down about 5 seats)
Greens: 0 – 1 seats. Best guess: 0
Combined NDP & Liberal seats: about 125, versus about 145 seats for the Conservatives.
While, I don’t have any faith in these numbers I’ve pulled out of the air, I do expect they’ll reflect the general picture: a Conservative minority, with the NDP and Liberals not able to form an alternative government without the support of the Bloc.
I think this is bad news. A Conservative majority would be my preference. Economically, most countries are a mess – except for Canada. Our economy remains the envy of the world, and a Conservative majority would ensure continued stability.
My second choice would be a Liberal-NDP coalition with enough seats to govern without having their every move okayed by the Bloc. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen. The Liberals are headed for third or fourth place, so they won’t be leading any coalition. Worse, I don't believe the NDP and Liberals can win enough seats between them to create a majority.
So what’s going to happen? Most likely the other parties will defeat the new Conservative government at their first opportunity. Then we’ll see a minority coalition government led by the NDP (though doubtless it will be called something else, so as not to embarrass Iggy who has sworn off coalitions).
Who knows what its policies will be. The federal NDP has never had to create a platform that could actually be implemented. Ignatieff correctly called their election promises “science fiction” – at least $20 billion in increased spending supported by $17.5 billion in new taxes they won’t be able to collect.
But regardless of what the NDP would like to spend our money on, the biggest ticket item will be new goodies for Quebec. To support an NDP-Liberal coalition, the Bloc will charge a high price, and they’ll keep asking for more.
I expect that, sooner or later, the NDP-Liberal coalition will realize it can’t afford to pay more blackmail and the government will fall. Or the Bloc will refuse its support simply in order to demonstrate that Canada doesn’t work – that we can’t even create a government that lasts more than a few months. In the worst case scenario, the Bloc will pull the plug during a new referendum campaign on Quebec separating from Canada.
I hope to be proven entirely wrong in my analysis, but in my heart, I expect we’ll all be back at the polls next year.