Another $350 million or so is about to be spent in what some may see as a desperately self-interested attempt to re-draw the lines of power in Ottawa. Whatever your political stripe, I think it will be hard to see this election as anything much more than that.
The issues that are supposedly so pressing have lofty titles like “contempt of Parliament”, mismanagement of the economy and, of course, an “unacceptable” budget. In reality, the crucial question that will wend its way back into the discourse is “Can you trust Stephan Harper?”.
I wish I had the ear of Mr. Harper for just a bit to underline just how much grief he could have saved himself and his party had he made some effort to be something just a tiny bit cuddlier than an attack-trained Rotweiller at every opportunity in responding to an opposition comment or position. Imagine how much mileage he could have gotten out of a shrug, a joke or a simple smile?
No, it wouldn’t have prevented this election, but it could have made it pretty fatuous to try the ‘Scary Stephan’ card a third time as the main opposition platform. Ah, well, the more things change….
I’m not any better at handicapping elections than horses, which is to say not well. I think the most likely outcome will be a slightly enhanced minority government. The implications of that will be all the machinations, dealing and intrigue of a coalition government between two spend-happy socialists and a fiscal highwayman; no doubt good political theatre.
What I hope happens is that, mirroring the disgust with which Ontario voters turfed David Peterson’s government over an “unnecessary” election, the electorate decides to excoriate whichever of the opposition parties is seen as most responsible for this fresh expenditure of money solely in an effort to pad the numbers for a couple of preening peacocks.