Monday, July 17, 2006

Election Timing

I like to fall on my own sword as much as the next guy, but why exactly is Bob Rae calling for the Liberals to provoke a fall election? The softwood lumber agreement is not exactly great for Canada granted, but how are we going to fix it if the Tories are sitting to the right of the speaker with a majority? Rae of all people should know how important election timing can be. After all, it was an overenthusiastic David Peterson who handed Rae the Premier's office when he went to the polls too early in 1990. What we need is for the committees in both the senate and the house to take their time with the softwood deal. Parliament doesn't sit for all that long in the fall and there's no reason we can't push the vote until the beginning of the new year when we have our house in order.
Softwood lumber is a big issue in British Columbia, Northern Ontario and Northern Quebec and is little more than a confusing footnote anywhere else. Harper has been politically shrewd in his moves to date but he has to start giving something to his Alberta base. I say let's wait for the homophobic comments the same-sex marriage debate is likely to induce from the backbench of the Conservative caucus. Wait until he actually tries to make a move on senate reform. Or at very least wait until the next Conservative budget when they realize that there's no money left for any new promises. Mr. Rae is new to the Liberal Party and therefore probably doesn't fully appreciate the idea that when you are part of a party people elect more often then Halley's Comet you have to be measured and tactical in your response. No matter how odourous the softwood deal may seem, we need to suffer it until we have a snowball's chance of winning the election.

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