It’s true that Harper, by constitutional convention, would have first shot at forming a government if the Conservatives win the largest number of seats. But there’s a hurdle Harper has to leap first: he has to win a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.Delacourt rightly recognizes that the Cons' attempt to bleed the other parties dry represents a reason for them to cooperate with each other rather than leaving any ambiguity as to how stable the parliamentary arrangements will be. (And that applies no matter how desperately Justin Trudeau claims that the option isn't on the table.)
Try as I might, I can’t imagine how that would happen.
The extra-long campaign was clearly designed to drain the bank accounts of the opposition parties, making them reluctant to kick off another campaign immediately after this one. But that reality also could create a powerful incentive for them to work together — to deny Harper a confidence vote and make the case to the Governor General for a coalition or an accord instead of another election.
But it's worth noting that it also represents a reason not to cooperate with the Cons, even to the extent of letting a throne speech pass.
After all, we know from 2008 that Stephen Harper is perfectly willing to call or demand a second election in short order if it suits his political purposes. And if part of his plan is to catch the other parties without sufficient resources to run another campaign, then it would be outright folly to leave him with the ability to pull the plug and call an election at any time - an option which would be available to him if he gets a single vote of confidence.
In contrast, for all the questions about policy gaps between the NDP and the Libs, both parties could surely agree on the need not to hold another election immediately. And even if there were no other basis for cooperation, that factor alone might be the tie-breaker in determining whether Harper is left at the controls.