Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The fix is in

It looks like we can now add one more item to the list of ways in which the Libs have given the Cons an effective majority: the Libs' signal that they won't defeat the Harper government on anything has given the Cons the effective ability to choose the timing of the next federal election by relying on its own dirty tricks manual to say that House of Commons committees are dysfunctional. And matters only get worse from there when one looks at what the Cons can do with the ability to choose their own election date.

As I've noted before, the main reason why the fixed election date in 2009 offers an advantage to the Cons is the prospect that they could save their war chest for the summer, then take advantage of the lack of pre-writ spending limits to run an advertising blitz which the other parties would be unable to counteract just in time to set themselves up for a fall campaign. But that at least carries some downside in that the Cons won't be able to say for sure what the political conditions will be like next year.

With the Libs being just stubborn enough in committees to set up some argument that an election should be called without showing the backbone to vote down the Cons on any matter of substance, though, the Cons may now get the best of both worlds. They're now able to launch into a pre-writ ad campaign at any time, secure in the knowledge that they can make a relatively plausible claim to demand an immediate election before the opposition can generate much of a response. (And if the Libs can only avoid that by capitulating to every demand the Cons can think of in order to avoid claims of gridlock, I doubt Harper would complain about that result.)

For all the Libs' talk about keeping control over when an election will happen, it looks like their delay tactics have only handed that power over to Deceivin' Stephen. Which means that just when it seemed like the Libs couldn't be any less effective at keeping the Cons in check, they've managed to sink to yet another new low.

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