With all the attention focused on the BC Liberals and NDP leadership races, you may not have noticed: the next federal election campaign is already under way.
The vote will take place in late April/early May.
The first visible sign were those negative TV ads launched by the federal Tories a couple of weeks ago. And true to the expected Tory campaign strategy, the main target of the governing party will be Michael Ignatieff.
It’s probably a wise plan.
Ignatieff has clearly failed to excite Canadians; there are no major negative issues right now that have led to a get-rid-of-them attitude towards the Tories; the economy is stronger; the Canadian dollar is worth more than the U.S. dollar; and, compared to their neighbours to the south, MOST Canadians feel relatively secure and happy.
And the latest stats show that Canada has indeed returned to pre-recession job levels, while the U.S. won’t get there for more than annother five years.
It’s time to go!
Now, of course, there are die-hard Liberals and NDPers who will disagree: they don’t like almost anything Stephen Harper does; there are also lots of criticisms that can legitimately be levelled at the Conservatives and Stephen Harper by even non-committed middle-of-the roaders.
But party strategists never wait until things are ideal …only when they think they have a pretty good chance of winning. And by waiting til Fall or next year that BIG issue could emerge, triggering anti-government feelings …and giving Ignatieff an actual issue to latch on to with uncommitted voters.
So watch the coming federal budget. There may not be as many goodies as we’re used to, but I’d bet there will be some and there will be good news: that the country is strong; we are back, in many ways, to where we were before the recession or even better; and it’s only going to get better under Tory stewardship.
Of course, the Opposition will do their jobs and criticize the budget; tear it apart; saying it; lacks this ‘n that; and it MUST be amended to retain the confidence of the House and pass.
Harper will use that as HIS reason for seeking a mandate from the Canadian people.
So in addition to a mounting criticism of Ignatieff, paid for by the Tory party, watch for a massive increase in government ads on TV, in newspapers, and on the radio. Maybe even a home mailing to every household in Canada touting the federal government’s new “economic action plan”--and all paid for by the taxpayers as important “information”.
Of course, in BC, that also likely means no Spring election--one in the Fall instead, perhaps at the same time as the HST referndum vote.
Which would probably suit both major parties’ new leaders.
Harv Oberfeld is a blogger and retired journalist. This column originally appeared on his blog, Keeping it Real. Reprinted with Mr. Oberfeld's kind permission.