Considering that Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have been running a de facto, if relatively low-key, election campaign all summer long (and, arguably, for a considerably longer period of time before that) by making extravagant promises to voters with their own money, deluging targeted ridings with taxpayer-funded propaganda rubbishing the Liberals, and vigorously stumping in the far corners and remote boroughs of the country (often at taxpayer expense), the PM’s latest efforts to weasel out of his fixed election date promise are more than somewhat laughable.
Having challenged Stéphane Dion to “fish or cut bait” at the end of July, Harper now says he may have no choice but to call an election if he can’t bully the opposition parties (who represent two-thirds of the voters, it should be remembered) into allowing him to move forward with his “mandate” unobstructed by their pesky objections, insufferable stalling and other such bothersome annoyances that some wooly-headed dreamers like to think are just part of how things are actually supposed to work in parliamentary democracy.
All of which makes the notion of so-called “Senate reform” being one of the reasons for calling an election kind of ironic, given that such changes are usually premised on the idea of introducing more “democracy” into the upper house. Well whatever. Everyone knows that any serious reform of the Senate would require opening up the constitution and it’s doubtful that Harper will get an enthusiastic mandate from the electorate to do that given past experiences in this area (although I could be wrong).
Which brings me in a roundabout way to my point: what exactly is the “mandate” that Harper wants the opposition parties to fall into line with in order to avoid a fall election? He was elected in 2006 on a narrowly focused platform built around five key priorities, which in case you’ve forgotten, were: cleaning up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act; cutting the GST; cracking down on crime; increasing financial assistance for parents; and, working with the provinces to establish a wait-times guarantee for patients.
Harper’s supporters claim that all of these promises have been made good on by the government, although critics would obviously choose to differ, but for the sake of our argument here, let’s imagine these are “accomplishments” as some incessantly boast. As such, wouldn’t it then make perfect sense to go to the electorate for a new mandate from the voters? It certainly seems to me that would be the correct thing to do, even if it does require him to break his silly fixed election promise, which was just an absurd fiction in the first place.