Sunday, September 07, 2008

Canadian elections October 14th 2008

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canada's Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper dissolved Parliament on Sunday and called an early election for next month in hopes of strengthening his Conservative minority government's hold on power.

The October 14 election will be Canada's third ballot in four years. Maybe Canada needs MMP?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative party needs an additional 28 seats to have a majority in Parliament. Although he has downplayed that possibility, polls in recent days indicate his right wing party has a chance to do so, and with Mr Dion as the opposition leader he will.

The Conservatives unseated the rather corrupted Liberal Party in 2006 after nearly 13 years in power, but as a minority government the Conservatives have been forced to rely on opposition lawmakers to pass legislation and adopt budgets. A minority government in Canada always leads to early elections.

Analysts said PM Harper's Conservatives had a better shot of winning now than if they waited until being forced by the opposition into a vote later, when the Canadian economy might be worse off.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Harper visited Governor General Michaelle Jean and asked her to dissolve Parliament. The governor general is the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is Canada's head of state, but the position is purely ceremonial and the governor general obeys the wishes of the prime minister.

Electoral legislation that Harper helped enact after he came to power in 2006 fixed the date for the next election in October 2009, but a loophole allows the prime minister to ask the governor general to dissolve Parliament.

"Between now and October 14, Canadians will choose a government to look out for their interests at a time of global economic trouble," Harper said after the meeting.

"They will choose between direction or uncertainty; between common sense or risky experiments; between steadiness or recklessness."

Liberal leader French Canadian Stephane Dion who can barely speak English, said the election offers a stark choice between his party and the "most conservative government in our history." The Liberals have a record of corruptness, Eastern PM's and bad economic and foreign ideals, so Mr Dion has a lot of work ahead of him.

The Conservatives now fill 127 of the 308 seats in Parliament. The Liberals have 95, Bloc Quebecois 48, the New Democrats 30 and the Greens have one seat. Three seats are held by independents, and four are vacant.

Dion, a former environment minister who named his dog Kyoto, wants to increase taxes on greenhouse gas emitters amongst other things. Dion has moved his party to the crowded left in Canada by staking his leadership on a "Green Shift" tax plan.

The Conservatives have been targeting Dion's plan in television and radio ads, saying it would kill jobs and drive up energy costs even higher than the current high levels. Dion has said he would offset the higher energy prices by cutting income taxes.

Dion hasn't had much success selling the plan to Canadians, many of whom have viewed him as a weak leader ever since he surprisingly won leadership of the party in late 2006.

"I love to be the underdog. I love being underestimated," Dion said. Wonder what Mr Dion will do for his next career?

Many expect Dion to be removed as leader if he loses the election. Therefore I am expecting a new left wing Canadian Liberal leader to be appointed after Stephen Harper is sworn in as PM of Canada with a Conservative majority after October 14th.

No comments: