Saturday, March 26, 2011

And they're off!

Take one historic vote of contempt against your government, add a short walk to Governor-General's residence, mix in one hyperbolic speech et voila - the 41st federal election has begun. Canadians will go the polls May 2nd (Easter weekend for those seeking an advance poll), being asked to shape the country's next Parliament.

It did not take long for things to get..feisty. A short re-cap:

- Before Mr. Harper had made his way to the GG's, Mr. Ignatieff released a statement saying that a coalition was not in the cards.

- Mr. Harper spent the better part of his first campaign speech rallying against coalition forces, suggesting in no uncertain terms that Mr. Ignatieff was not telling the truth.

- Mr. Duceppe quite explicitly stated that Mr. Harper's assertion that the Conservatives never considered a coalition or partnership with other parties was a lie.

- Mr. Layton made it clear that Mr. Harper needs to be replaced.

And yes, this was basically all before 11:00 am.

(Note, if "coalition" was a drinking game where one had to consume a beverage of choice every time the word was uttered, I would have been in rough shape by the end of this morning.)

It really is unfortunate that the Conservatives have chosen to make this such a significant element of their campaign narrative. Yes, the other theme they are highlighting is the economy, but even that is tied back to the "spectre of a coalition." To be honest, they did not sound like a government or like the party apparently with a healthy lead. Their offensive sounded...defensive.

It will be interesting to see how much traction this theme gets, particularly if the Liberals find their legs and get into a positive rhythm early. By many accounts, Mr. Ignatieff has delivered a very strong speech in Ottawa this afternoon suggesting that he is up for this campaign.

So, thoughts on day 1? What issues do you want to see covered?


  1. I agree, Harper is looking strangely uncomfortable. And it appears to be because he is forced to be on the defensive. I get the feeling he realizes that not only does he have to speak his talking points, but now he has to actually sell them.

    Before today I was a little nervous about Ignatieff and the Liberals. But I'm beginning to see a little bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, the Liberals could actually pull off a win.

    I know it's early and anything can happen. But I have a gut feeling this might actually be a battle, and Harper might have to go beyond hyper partisan rhetoric to be taken seriously.

    Love your thought provoking posts! I want to hear about healthcare, more specifically where the parties stand on homecare for the elderly. I'm also personally invested in disability issues.



  2. Thanks for your comments, Kendall. Again today we are seeing a more defensive side to Mr. Harper - no doubt being fed by Mr. Duceppe's assertions.

    One argument is that this defensiveness can suit Mr. Harper as it keeps the notion of the coalition as the issue, giving less visibility to the ethical/contempt theme. I think, however, that you will see some initial Liberal traction with voters which will force a shift towards the issues - at least that is my hope.

    Health care HAS to be discussed, if only because the next PM will have to address the very expensive next round of discussions with the provinces on the health accord.

    Keep the comments coming!


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