I suppose it could be worse... were the Harper government to survive until the legislated election date of October 2009, the ensuing election would take place at nearly the exact same time as my own wedding and subsequent honeymoon, thus depriving Canada of its most highly respected political blogger, or depriving me of... well, getting married. At least this way, they'll only mess up my impending move to a shiny, new home.
I don't want this election. Chances are, YOU don't want this election, either. In fact, MOST Canadians don't want an election right now. It will be an exercise in democracy costing taxpayers $300 Million, and a chance for bloggers to wax righteously about the decline of citizen participation when, YET AGAIN, we set an all-time record for low voter turn-out. But at the end of the day, we're going to (in all likelihood) have another minority government, and probably one that looks suspiciously like the one we've got now.
Indeed, the only people who seem to WANT a federal election right now are the parties themselves... they have, or seem to have, enough confidence in their platforms and their campaign teams that they believe despite the polls, their party will make significant and unexpected gains - perhaps enough to win a majority. Either that, or they believe their opponents will screw up enough that there won't be any heavy lifting to do. With this in mind, embracing the inevitability of the fact that an election is coming, let's take a look at what the parties are hoping for, and gambling on...
Conservative Party of Canada (Stephen Harper)
The Tories want an election because they think Dion hasn't been able to coalesce enough support within his own ranks to run a solid campaign. They're hoping to score a few more seats out West, and possibly in newly oil-rich Newfoundland (don't hold your breath, guys), by focusing on the "Green Shift Boogeyman".
What they're gambling on: That voters have completely ignored the "In/Out" proceedings, and that they paid more attention to the GST cuts and good day-to-day management than they did to the Income Trusts flip/flop and Harper's "benevolent dictator" schtick.
Liberal Party of Canada (Stephane Dion)
The Liberals feel they've served their penance for AdScam, and thus they're ready to take back their rightful place as Canada's governing party. The only problem is, many Canadians - including self-identified Liberals - don't feel their leader is up to the job of Prime Minister. They're hoping to gain back some traction pitting central Canada against those "greedy bastards in the West" with the Green Shift, and if they haven't already put together ads linking G.W. Bush, John McCain and Stephen Harper as an "axis of neo-con evil", they need to get on it, pronto.
What they're gambling on: That the appetite for "change" coming out of the U.S. Election is strong enough to convince Canadians that they want it as well - by bringing into power the party that has ruled for 33 of the past 45 years (and 13 of the last 15). And that disgruntled Liberal supporters who stayed home or cast a vote for the Tories or NDP in 2006 have decided 2 years on the "wrong side of the house" is enough, and come back to the fold. AND that someone with a microphone will find Rob Anders with about a week to go in the election.
New Democratic Party of Canada (Jack Layton)
Jack Layton is telling all the world that he doesn't want an election right now - which is ironic, as he's spent the vast majority of the past 2 years voting against the government on just about every single confidence motion that's come forward. Indeed, Layton has been BEGGING for an election since about 5 minutes after Stephane Dion won the leadership of the Liberals. He's counting on the fact that the Tory "not a leader" ads have sufficiently stigmatized Dion that he can capture some of the soft leftist support the Liberals traditionally hold. He's probably not going to - it's a 2 horse race, and everyone wants to back a winner.
What they're gambling on: That Dion is going to make a major mistake during the campaign, shifting exasperated Liberals over to the NDP side for this-go-round. And that Union leaders will jump on the bandwagon once they realize what the Green Shift is going to mean for manufacturing jobs.
Bloc Quebecois (Gilles Duceppe)
The BQ is looking nervously over its shoulder at the gong show that is the Parti Quebecois provincially, and knowing that unless they can paint Harper as a wolf in sheep's clothing and take back the seats the Tories won in 2006, they're headed for the same fate. With Harper far from shy in his pandering to the people of Quebec these past 2 years, the Bloc is in for a long, tough fight.
What they're gambling on: A slip-up in the Tory campaign that allows one of the Western stalwarts (again, I'm betting on Rob Anders) to make an "on-the-record" comment about what they believe "Stephen Harper REALLY thinks about Quebec...". Failing that, an endorsement from Celine Dion?
Green Party of Canada (Elizabeth May)
The Greens are starting to stake out the same kind of territory federally that the Alberta Liberals have, provincially... pouting, and blaming the voters for being stupid enough not to elect them. So long as this party's leadership looks and seems more like a local PETA chapter than a political party that can run the day-to-day business of government if elected, voters will continue to reject them. The recent putsch of most of the people in the Greens who actually know how to, well, run a campaign is probably going to negatively impact their efforts to get elected. The Greens would DEARLY love to elect at least ONE M.P. this time around... but if they do, it will be DESPITE the party's leadership, not because of it.
What they're gambling on: An invitation to the televised debates, and that the other leaders will develop rabies shortly beforehand. A heat-wave in September that sees the average temperature in Whitehorse sitting at plus 45. Peter MacKay decides not to run for re-election.
Good to be back - now, let's get this over with.
Just close your eyes and think of England...