PM sets the stage for an election?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave an interview to PostMedia yesterday and I'm reading it as stage-setting for an imminent election.
It's just my interpretation of the quotes, but here's why I think we should be braced for a budget with the famed "poison pill," leaving opposition parties no option but to bring down the government and plunge Canada into a general election.
First, some background. Last fall, I participated in a little panel discussion for some NGO groups, and one of the panelists was a long-time Conservative. He mused aloud that if Harper wanted to bring down his own government, a quick way to do it would be to ask the House of Commons to approve the planned corporate tax cuts. Cancelling those cuts is crucial to the Liberals' campaign promises -- required to pay for their promised programs on family care, etc. So -- and he really was just musing aloud, he stressed, he hadn't discussed this with anyone in government -- Harper could engineer his defeat by making the corporate tax cuts a matter of confidence.
Now look at this quote, in the Harper interview, through that prism:
“I won’t kid you, and I think it’s one of the reasons why I don’t think a minority will go on forever — this government will not make compromises that it believes are damaging to the Canadian economy,” Mr. Harper said.
“We have made it a fundamental principle of our government since we got into office that we would have a competitive tax structure for job creators, for employers in this country.”
And now take a look at this quote. Harper says he's interested in governing, but note how he forecasts the next session of Parliament. Either he sees no signs of potential compromise in the House, or he just hates his job in the Commons.
“Another game, another election, another round of parliamentary antics I don’t think are in anybody’s interest.”
Overall, I think this interview does a pretty good job of laying out how Harper will be campaigning in the next election -- promises to end public subsidies to parties, the threat of the scary coalition, etc. And it's just my hunch, but this sounds like a Prime Minister who wants that election sooner rather than later.