Two days ago, rumours were circulating that we were in for an early election. So far, nothing has materialized. But, having mastered the art of fear and smear politics -- and having passed Bill C-51 -- Michael Harris writes that there are lots of reasons for Stephen Harper to call an early election:
It would let Harper campaign on terrorism, not his record. He has his emotional issue: “I am the strong man who will protect you from the beheaders.”
A defence brief recently obtained by the CBC under Access to Information implies Canada’s failure to procure the F-35s may be damaging our relationship with our international allies: “Canada often struggles to meet timelines to participate in international co-operative activities.” Read: Canada needs those F-35s so we can protect everyone by bombing the Middle East.
If Harper wins the election, Canada will get those planes, no matter what they cost, even though they may not be fully operational until 2019 due to a newly-discovered computer glitch with the plane’s main gun. Not a small problem, by the way — it could prevent the F-35 from firing during close air support operations. The Pentagon, which milks the American taxpayer like a prize cow, has denied there will be a delay.
Harper wouldn’t have to present a budget that he can’t balance.
He’d escape blowback from the Mike Duffy trial, where Nigel Wright might have to tell the truth under oath, instead of a carefully constructed version of the truth designed to protect the prime minister. Meanwhile, Patrick Brazeau’s preliminary inquiry is set to begin June 1. Mike Duffy’s trial will still be on at that point — bad timing for the PM.
The trial of Bruce Carson, a former senior aide to Harper, on charges related to a water purification company for First Nations starts September 8.
If Harper calls an early election, there will be confusion at the polls because of changes under the new Elections Act. Many voters will turn up without the proper ID — although you can bet Conservative voters will be well prepared. You now need two pieces of official ID, at least one with your street address. Yes, due to a hard-fought amendment, someone can vouch for your address if they know you — but you both have to swear an oath and that takes time, meaning long line-ups at the polls. Just what you need when you have to pick up the kids at daycare.
Harper has never been a man of principle. But he has always been a desperate opportunist. Is anyone taking bets?