Speculation abounds right now that Prime Minister Harper will call the next election much sooner than October 2015. While PMO might want to damp down such speculation it is a legitimate issue that is up for discussion amongst both Conservatives, supporters of the opposition parties and the media.
The Duffy trial taking place as it will in the few months preceding the next stated election date will reignite a lot of questions around exactly what happened in the backrooms and what was said or understood “wink, wink.” Duffy will be a man on a mission and that is the most dangerous kind, especially when dealing with a master showman like “the Duff”. If PMO and the PM think the Senate issue and PMOs role in it will be so boring that the public will pay scant attention to it in the lead up to an election, they better think again. Duffy has nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying to keep the focus on the Prime Minister’s Office and who knew what, said what, or suggested what to him.
PMO has stated they are sticking to the October 2015 timeline but really, when has such a statement ever stopped a Prime Minister from changing their mind? Harper has already violated the spirit of the fixed date election law once before, so what would be stop him from doing the same thing again? Believe me you can always find an issue if you need one and realistically the negative publicity around calling an early election will last just a few days and it will soon be replaced by more pressing campaign announcements and issues. Bad press from calling an early election is never enough to prevent an election from being called.
For example there are enough international issues that are already escalating if Harper really wanted to find a reason.
There is also the Fall Economic Update that could easily become much more especially if there is a healthy surplus to announce. It is not unusual in politics for positive economic news to precede an election. He could announce a hefty series of personal tax cuts or tax credits and then in the spring after a good news budget call an election based on the Liberals and NDP wanting to take back those hard won dollars from all the Canadians who play by the rules and pay their taxes. Of course the Conservatives would highlight that the taxpayers gains under the Conservatives would end up being spent on Liberal and NDP projects and their supporters in special interest groups. All of this leaving the poor taxpayer worse off than before.
We also have the continuing rise of the Liberals under Justin Trudeau for the Conservatives to worry about. He is far from the perfect leader and often just a remark away from having egg on his face, but so far the population has cut him some slack and probably will continue to do so as he simply isn’t Stephen Harper, but a fresh face with a new team forming around him. A new face taking on an old established government with so many familiar faces in it, many who are getting a little shop worn can often upset a sitting government. Think of Joe Clark (Joe Who) beating Justin’s father (who would have expected that) or Mulroney’s win or later on Chretien’s or even Stephen Harper’s. Remember how the Liberals were supposed to win 250 seats!
Both the Liberals and NDP are wise to prepare for an early election as the Conservative war machine is never really turned off and it can be cranked up to full speed much faster than the opposition parties.
One thing that we do know for sure is that Harper never wants to do anything suggested by the media and if they are suggesting he will go early he is quite liable to wait and certainly do something they don’t suspect. In the end only he knows for sure. But the longer the Conservatives wait the higher the risk increases- potentially damaging testimony, sudden foreign policy issues, an economic downturn, another scandal etc. Only the most partisan of Conservative supporters would fail to see that and not be concerned.
The final decision is up to Stephen Harper and he loves to keep the media guessing. Stay tuned for his next move.