July 14, 2000
Prognosticating a fall election - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- If an election, federal that is, were held today, it’s clear that the Liberal’s would face a reduction in the seats they currently hold. The question, therein lies, how many seats would be lost?
I would carefully assume with Stockwell Day’s helming of the Canadian Alliance, a week ago tomorrow, that Mr. Day would probably put up an excellent fight.
The question now, is when will Jean Chrétien actually call an election? It’s clear the Mr. Chrétien has promised us an election within a year. A year from now there will be an election. That’s been established. Mr. Chrétien’s window of calling an election are similar to those of Premier Dosanjh in BC: a fall election or a spring election. Rarely are elections called in the winter and the summer.
If Mr. Chrétien calls an election in the fall, he’ll be in a bind in that he’ll be facing the current media darling, Stockwell Day. Mr. Day, through his quest for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance has received a ton of publicity, and as I’ve always said, any publicity is good publicity.
Chrétien, upon Mr. Day’s assuming of the mantle of Leader of the Official Opposition, has in effect been spending some of his summer holiday’s confronting his own future. At the Liberal convention of last spring, he announced his intention to run for a third mandate. That would be to the chagrin of Mrs. Chrétien, but since it is politics, who cares about family, right?
Mr. Chrétien’s future in politics is iffy. He’s facing the ageing campaign of Paul Martin and as that camp is putting on the screws, Mr. Chrétien is dodging fast and furious. If Martin leaves, then Chrétien will have to stay on. If Martin stays on wanting to the leadership, then he will leave and the Liberals will be better off with a new leader facing off against Stockwell Day.
An fall election will only happen if Mr. Chrétien stays on. I will therefore predict him staying on. The only deterrent for him to leave is after an election that he’ll lose to Stockwell Day.
Chrétien will want to run in the fall, so as to prevent Mr. Day from constantly upstaging him in the Commons. To have young and dynamic Day up against old and curmedgeonesque Chrétien, would be a PR nightmare for the Liberals as they heal from the heated attacks regarding HRDC, fronted on them this past session.
A fall election will mean one thing. The Tories will face near extinction. Joe Clark cannot jump start the Tories West of Quebec and will leave himself seatless and without much of a caucus. That will precipitate young Peter MacKay to take over as leader of the Tories sometime next year. (That’s another column.)
The Bloc Quebecois, under Gilles Duceppe will stifle the Liberals in Quebec, although they’ll still win more seats than the NDP and Tories combined. The NDP will see it’s caucus shrink, winning most of their seats in Saskatchewan or Manitoba or the Maritimes. Libby and Svend will retain in BC.
The Alliance will sweep most of BC, all of Alberta and a good portion of the Prairies. In the East and Quebec they’ll win a total of one seat. That one seat will be in the Quebec riding to be represented by Mario Dumont. The young Quebecker who’s been running the Action Democratique in that province for a number of years now.
Ontario will be the place to be at election time. The Liberals will face off with the Alliance and determine the Liberals’ standing. If they loose most of the 101 seats they currently have, then the Liberals will have to face holding a minority government or, (hopefully) opposition status. The Alliance will need to win about 20 seats, to prove this whole Reform cum Alliance exercise was worthwhile.
At the end of my faux fall election, I’d carefully bet that the Liberals or the Alliance will be victorious, with only a minority government. The loser, the official opposition and then a tumbling of the government and another election a year later.
Ah, politics has gotten exciting all of a sudden. It’s all about momentum and at this very moment it belongs to the Alliance.
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