Boy, the media loves election speculation, don't they? I mentioned this earlier and it appears the Tories will do everything to avert the crisis. But since everyone loves to speculate, here are 20 reasons Stephen Harper should do everything in his power to make sure the government doesn't fall on the budget supply bill:
1. Look at the polls: If an election were held today, odds are we'd get a parliament that looks a lot like the one we currently have.
2. Harper's neck is on the line: He got 84% support at their recent convention, but if he goes 0 for 2, I suspect his leadership is going to face major challenges. The common consensus among Conservatives seems to be Harper is gone if he loses the next election.
3. Vindictive Electorate: With all due respect to Warren, I'm of the mind that Canadians don't want an election right now. Maybe I'm only of that opinion because Alberta has had 3 elections in the past 10 months (federal, provincial, municipal...4 if you count the thrilling senatorial elections). Maybe with no hockey playoffs on, it will give Canadians something to follow. But I suspect if the Conservatives are perceived as having brought down the government, people will be none too pleased about it.
4. The Issue: An election on the environment would be interesting and likely good for Canada, but it's not an issue the Conservatives want to run on. Rightly or wrongly, they're perceived to be the least environmentally responsible party out there.
5. Kyoto: Very popular in Ontario. Not very popular in Alberta. Will allow Martin to hint at "Stephen Harper is a scary Albertan who cares more about oil than the environment". It’s how Trudeau beat Clark in 1980.
6. Offshore Oil: That deal falls through if the budget goes down. For a party desperate to pick up seats in the Maritimes, this likely isn't a good idea.
7. Mr.Dithers: The longer Martin governs, the worse he looks. Why let him off the hook with an early election?
8. Budgets: Generally, when the economy is booming, and the surplus is big, a budget is a pretty good thing for the government to run on. And, by consequence, a pretty bad thing for the opposition to run on.
9. Abstention: Harper ran to the microphone after the budget was announced and said it was "a conservative budget" he "could live with". He also said it "wasn't worth bringing the government down over". It's going to be very hard to run against this same budget.
10. Blackout: Gomery will go dark for the next month or two.
11. Scandal: From all the whispers being heard, there's still some explosive evidence to come in the Gomery Inquiry that's going to make the Liberal Party look very bad. Why not wait? This Inquiry was a gift to Harper and he'd be foolish not to use it.
12. The Issue: Likewise, if the non-confidence motion in the house is worded explicitly on Adscam, that becomes the issue. It may be the only issue the Conservatives can win on.
13. Quebec: Not doing great there now, but I suppose there's always a chance things will get better for the Tories. At the very least, it can't get worse. If Ducceppe leaves to lead the PQ, there's an opening there.
14. Cold Weather: With the Liberal Party divided and lacking enthusiasm, how many Liberals are going to get off their couches and go out in -30 degree weather to door knock for Paul in December. The Tories are hungrier so a cold weather election likely works to their advantage (Yeah, yeah, it’s a stretch, but when you produce 20 reasons they can’t all be brilliant).
15. Not Scary: The Liberals won the last election because Canadians were scared of Stephen Harper. Every day that goes by where Harper doesn't bite off kitten heads will only make him look less scary.
16. Romanian Strippers: Supposedly, there's a report from the ethics commissioner coming at some point. It might be good to wait and see what's involved in it.
17. Gay Marriage: Wouldn't hurt to have an actual vote on the issue in the house. It will show divisions in Liberal ranks and, despite what some people think, I think this is an issue that might actually help the Conservatives in rural Ontario.
18. Earnscliffe: The Public Accounts Committee will be probing Earnscliffe this April. Why not wait and see if they come up with something interesting?
19. Money: The Tories have a larger debt than the Liberals. They need time to fundraiser and get their $2.25 per vote cheques.
20. It bears worth repeating: WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT AN ELECTION ON A POPULAR BUGET AND THE KYOTO ACCORD WHEN YOU CAN HAVE ONE ON GOMERY'S REPORT?!?!?!?!?