The Elections Desk here at the Katz News Network (KNN) is now prepared to make a call on the forthcoming Canadian general election to be held May 2, 2011. Most respectable news organizations wait for the polls to close and for a significant fraction of the ballots to be counted before issuing their projections. Well, we here at KNN are burdened with neither respectability nor significance, so why wait when the outcome is already clear?
First, the obligatory disclosures: When I lived in Canada I was active in party politics and worked for about 10 years as a volunteer at the local district level for the oxymoronically named Progressive Conservative Party. The PC Party no longer exists having merged with (or collapsed into) today’s Conservative Party.
Since leaving Canada for the US in 1997, I have paid scant attention to Canadian politics, and I will continue to mostly ignore this election. In particular, I did not watch either of this week’s televised debates between the four major party leaders (the fifth, the Green Party leader, was not permitted to participate).
Ignorance will in no way hamper my ability to issue an election projection, just like all the other major new outlets.
Now a word about methodology. My projection is based on the principle that in a democracy power changes hands only when all three of the following conditions are met:
- There must be widespread discontent with the incumbent. People really must hanker to “kick the bastards out.”
- There must be a credible alternative. Otherwise, better the devil you know.
- There must be a major political issue around which the first two conditions focus. Sometimes “change” is the issue. Sometimes it’s corruption or a juicy scandal. Usually, “it’s the economy, stupid.”
If even one of these conditions is not met, the incumbent party will most likely retain power.
In this election, none of my three conditions has been met. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Conservative Leader, is not liked by many people. He’s seen as mean-spirited and anti-democratic by some but he is not regarded with the kind of near-universal revulsion and disgust that would cost him the election. Possibly this is because the Canadian economy has weathered the current recession pretty well, and didn’t experience anywhere near the financial meltdown as the US or Europe. It may not be paradise in the Great White North, but on job 1 – managing the economy – the Harper government seems to be doing OK.
Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, is the only real alternative to Mr. Harper, but is he a credible alternative? Not according to the polls. He’s perceived as wooden and aloof, and while his performance on the campaign trail may have improved since his return from the hallowed halls of Harvard, he needs to be significantly ahead of Stephen Harper in the polls at this stage of the game and he’s not.
Lastly there doesn’t seem to be an animating issue in this election. Anyone who thinks that “misleading Parliament,” reprehensible though it may be, is an issue upon which elections turn has been smoking too much poutine.
Now if I could have a drum roll please …. and the KNN Elections Desk projection for the May 2, 2011 Canadian general election is … wait for it … big surprise, another Conservative minority government! OK, no claims of originality or even insight here. I think Stephen Harper’s Conservatives will again fall short of a majority largely because the party can’t win seats in any of the three major metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. That’s probably because they’re a bunch of right-wing nutjobs, although to tell the truth they’re rank amateurs compared to the nutjobs we have running around down here. Unless the Conservatives can make a breakthrough in these urban centers, they’ll be unable to win the coveted parliamentary majority.
Net result: no change. So I’m calling this the Cheese Shop election, as in, “I was deliberately wasting your time, sir.”
The “I” who is deliberately wasting Canadians’ time is Michael Ignatieff. This leads to my second prediction: Ignatieff will step down as Liberal leader on election night. And even if he doesn’t he should because he’s an idiot. He brought down the government on a no-confidence vote without a compelling issue to take to the people, and without a commanding lead in the polls. He has committed political suicide. Au revoir.
Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party is getting a little long in the tooth, but no one expects his party to win the election. So unless the NDP loose a substantial number of seats he’ll probably get to keep his job.
And Gilles Duceppe is a maudit Bloquiste so who the hell cares what happens to him!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this election coverage from the Katz News Network.
Remember to vote early and vote often!