What happens if there is another Conservative minority?

If the current polls hold, then it seems very likely that the Conservatives will yet again win more seats than any of the other parties, and yet again will not win enough seats to gain a majority.  The the question is, what will Ottawa look like?

I personally think that the Conservatives will form a minority government.  Even though Michael Ignatieff has now clearly stated the conditions that would allow him to ask the Governor General to form a government, which would only happen if the Conservatives are unable to gain the confidence of the House.  I honestly doubt that Ingatieff would try this, unless it happened many months after the election.  Part of the reason that many people disliked the idea of a coalition last time is because it happened so soon after the previous election.  If Ignatieff tries to form a government too soon, it will look like he is trying to seize power without winning an election, and suddenly all of the “He’s just in it for himself” attack ads become true.  So I would say that he should probably wait at least a year before engineering the defeat of the Conservatives in order to at least make it seem like he is trying to ‘make government work.’

But a lot of things can happen in a year, and I expect a lot of changes if there is another Conservative minority.  First off, I doubt Ignatieff will last very long if he doesn’t win this election.  That will make two Liberal leaders in a row that are unable to deliver the party to their rightful place as the ‘natural governing party.’  I predict that there is already a number of very sharp knives waiting for Ignatieff to fail so someone else can have a shot.

So if Ignatieff resigns or is forced out, then the Liberals need to have a full campaign for leadership, which takes time.  The party also wouldn’t risk appointing someone else without a full campaign, since that’s how Ignatieff ended up in the leader’s seat.  And the party wouldn’t want to force an election if the leadership of the party is in flux.  And when the new leader comes to power, it will be unlikely that he or she will try to seize power without an election since that would automatically turn all the ‘contempt for democracy’ arguments back towards the Liberals.

I would also expect that Harper wouldn’t be too long sitting as Prime Minister, although he will definitely last longer than Ignatieff.  This will be his third election where the Conservatives have been unable to form a majority government.  If he can’t take advantage of the perpetually weak opposition, then many Conservative members will wonder if he is the right man for the job.  I don’t think that his ouster will be quite as public as Ignatieff’s, but he will eventually go.  He will probably act like he is leaving after a successful career in public service (which is true) but he will be forced out just the same.

So that leaves the Conservatives and the Liberals possibly looking for new leaders within the next year.  I think that probably the best possible situation for politics in Ottawa.  Getting rid of the current crop of leaders, especially the leaders of the two major parties could make a world of difference in improving the partisan bickering between the parties.  It will give the membership of both parties a chance to show that the status quo is not acceptable.  Both parties will be given a chance to pick a leader who is willing to work with others in order produce results that benefit all Canadians.

And what about Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe?  The NDP are still light years away from becoming a party that the voters trust to govern, regardless of whether or not Layton is leader.  The NDP can be trusted to oppose  whoever wins any election, because that’s what they do.  They have a long track record of opposing bills before reading them, and a short track record of compromise.  And of course the Bloc will happily extort money for Quebec no matter who is in charge.

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One Response to What happens if there is another Conservative minority?

  1. Adam Walker says:

    You are 100% correct: another minority would see a leadership shift in the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc. You can add Green to the list if Elizabeth May doesn’t win her riding out in BC.
    Personally, I’m in favour of starting from scratch in every riding at this point. No incumbents, even the ones I like. Let’s get fresh blood from across the country and try and get some work done!

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