Not any more

Stephen Harper again enters ‘uncertain world of coalitions’ – The Globe and Mail

In Canada on October 29, 2010 at 13:37

Not: A Harper majority. The latest EKOS poll shows Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would eke out a weak minority government, losing 28 seats of their 142 seats – and testing the mettle of new Governor-General David Johnston – were an election were held today.

Projections based on the poll suggest Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals would win 100 seats, an increase from the 76 they hold now. The NDP would have 32, down from their current 36. The Bloc would win a huge number – 60 of the 75 seats in Quebec, up from the 47 they hold now. And the Green Party would also be a winner, taking one seat in British Columbia.

More related to this story

“This would once again steer us into the uncertain world of coalitions and a stern challenge for our new GG,” EKOS president Frank Graves said.

His poll picked up much volatility within the electorate, an instability that shows in his projections. Conducted over two weeks from Oct. 13 to Oct. 26, the survey sampled about 3,000 Canadians.

Mr. Graves broke down each week for a snapshot of how the parties would fare. Individually they tell different but equally dramatic stories about how the country would look after a federal election, spurring Mr. Graves to speculate about a Liberal minority government enabled by the NDP and Green Party or even a possible coalition between the Conservatives and the Bloc.

The first week, Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, results in the following projection: Conservatives would win only 111 seats compared to 103 for the Liberals; 31 for the NDP, 60 for the Bloc and two for the Greens (both seats would come from British Columbia, where Green Party leader Elizabeth May is trying to win a seat). There would be one “other.”

“With a scant eight seat advantage and around one third of the total seats the CPC would be very hard pressed to form a stable government,” Mr. Graves said. “So Week 1 would probably produce a new Liberal government (probably, propped up by the NDP and the two freshly minted [Green Party] MPs). Still short of a majority but a far more plausible arrangement to meet the confidence of the House – barring of course a BQ-CPC deal, which would produce a clear majority.”

The second week is much different, given the unstable political landscape. The EKOS poll showed a Conservative surge during this period, attributed to the popularity of Toronto’s new right-wing mayor, Rob Ford.

Calculations based on the data from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26, suggest the Conservatives would win 130 seats compared to only 89 for the Liberals. The NDP would come in with 31 seats, the Bloc would have 55 and the Green Party would win two seats in British Columbia. There would be one “other.”

“Now fully seven days later, we would see a secure CPC minority emerge,” Mr. Graves explained. “While diminished and possibly with a limited shelf life it is most likely that the opposition wouldn’t try to bring this new government down when it had a 41 seat advantage over the nearest competitor.

“So welcome to the new highly uncertain world of Canadian politics where from week to week we could see a return to the status quo or a brand new coalition government.”

Hot: The gravy train. Toronto mayor-elect Rob Ford’s simple message during his successful campaign was: “Stop the gravy train” at City Hall.

Voters obviously loved it. And so do Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals. In a bit of mischievousness Wednesday during Question Period, finance critic Scott Brison managed to incorporate the Ford line into his question, spurring much laughter on both sides of the aisle. Here is the exchange.

Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this borrow-and-spend minister increased spending by 18% in his first three years of office. In fact, he put Canada into deficit even before the downturn. Now he is wasting billions of dollars on high-priced consultants, advertising, photo ops, and contracts for Conservative cronies. Canadian taxpayers want these borrow-and-spend Conservatives to stop wasting their money. When will the finance minister stop his Conservative gravy train?

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this is how much respect the Liberal finance critic has for taxpayers’ money. He said neither the Liberal caucus nor the Liberal Party “has ever encountered a problem that they did not believe to be best solved by throwing copious quantities of taxpayers’ money at it. They are tax and spend-aholics”. That is what the Liberals are. They are tax-and-spend Liberals who will drive this country into deficit in a structural way.

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