Where do we go from here?
The general mood is that we’ve passed the storm and have embarked on a 10 month election campaign. I’m inclined to agree that we won’t see any real threats to confidence between now and June despite the certainty that there will be several attempts by the media to create artificial drama. Mind you, if something really damaging comes out of the Gomery Inquiry, all bets are off and we might very well get a summer election. Come next fall, if the Conservatives are even remotely close in the polls, expect the drama to begin all over again.
In the meantime, each party has a few key things they need to focus on.
There’s a lot of talk that Carolyn Parrish will be let back into caucus and that Judy Sgro will be brought back into Cabinet. I think both of those actions would be reasonable in light of recent events.
The last month has also shown that when it comes to winner take all dirty politics, Team Martin is still the best of the best. They showed it during the leadership race and they showed it by somehow outmaneuvering the Conservatives and staying alive. But can they govern? That’s the real question.
The Conservatives have one more silver bullet left with the name “Gomery” on it and their loss yesterday just means they won’t have to waste it this spring on an election they might lose. The party’s inability to pull ahead in the polls is really troubling and Stephen Harper will certainly do some soul searching as to whether or not he can, should, or wants to lead this party into the next election. With Belinda gone, being perceived as a moderate alternative to the Liberals just got a lot harder.
I know the Dippers were ecstatic over becoming relevant for the first time in years but the future of their budget is very much in doubt. The Conservatives/Bloc alliance holds a 6-5 voting edge on the finance committee so it’s difficult to see how the NDP budget will ever get Royal Ascent. And remember, if the NDP don’t think they can get their budget passed, all deals are off. At the very least, Jack Layton has looked extremely statesmanlike and Prime Ministerial in comparison to Harper and Martin over the past month. If the NDP keep doing what they’re doing, I think 40 seats is a very real possibility for them in the next election.
Gilles Ducceppe will continue to hammer the Liberals on Gomery while he keeps one eye turned towards Bernard Landry’s embattled leadership of the Parti Quebecois. They’ll continue to try and cause an election at every turn.