Opinion Editorial

Election is no surprise

Let's forget, for the moment, that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is prepared to ignore his own fixed-date election law to send Canadians to the polls next month.

And let's forget that what this PM most hungers for is a majority government to replace the minority one he's had since January of 2006.

So, why are Canadians on the brink of yet another federal election?

It can't be because Parliament no longer works. The House of Commons never works through summer, because all of the MPs are on vacation (or at least on vacation from passing legislation). But that's what Harper is going to tell Governor General Michaelle Jean, likely on Sunday, when he asks her to dissolve Parliament.

During these past few weeks, Harper has met with the leaders of the opposition, to see which way the political winds are

blowing. The PM wanted guarantees that the Conservative agenda would receive opposition support, support his minority government needs.

When Harper didn't get the response he wanted, he didn't think of compromise. He didn't think of working with his opponents in order to make the next session of Parliament work.

With this PM, it's his way or the highway. So he's having his campaign bus tuned up right now.

None of which should come as any surprise to Canadians paying attention to national politics. Harper has ruled as if he has a majority government, almost since he took office.

First the Liberals were in disarray, after Paul Martin decided to go, because they didn't have a leader. Then, Stephane Dion was so busy bending politically backwards to avoid an election that his Grits have provided little or no opposition to Harper.

So what's changed?

It might be a recent poll, for theGlobe and Mail-CTV News, that gives the Conservatives 37 per cent support among voters. This compares to 29 per cent for the Liberals, 17 per cent for the New Democrats and nine per cent for the Green party. Those figures suggest Harper could win a majority government.

Just as important, maybe more, is the economy. The Conservatives seem to have finally realized that economic trouble south of the border, sooner or

later, will find its way north.

Ontario manufacturing is already in rough shape, especially the automotive sector. Harper has responded with funding promises to both Ford and General Motors -- although that has been somewhat countered by John Deere's decision to close its Welland plant, with 800 jobs


Harper might want to call an election

before the economy gets any worse, and his government takes the blame.

But really, it all comes back to politics. Harper wants a majority government, and his strategists feel this is prime time to get one.

Canadians should be concerned that a federal election is about to be called for these reasons. The existing government could work just fine, if there was any real effort -- by all parties -- to compromise.

Instead, tens of millions of dollars that could be used for health care, education, the military and dozens of other services will be spent on an election that most Canadians don't want, and don't need.

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Figures suggest Harper could win a majority government.

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