The current federal campaign surrounding the upcoming elections (in less than a week already!) has been many times labeled as flavourless by many media outlets. The very minute that parlement was suspended and that the government was out of office, everybody was expecting a repeat of the last federal elections: a month of futile of partisan brawl that would eventually result in another Conservative minority. Every party would get it's usual seats, and life would go on.
The polls published in various newspapers however have brought a new dynamic to the campaign, that many discribed as Jack-mania. This wave of support for the NDP's leader is causing turmoil all across the country, and especially in Quebec. While the polls are suggesting a Conservative minority with the neodemocrats forming the opposition, I believe that those drastic changes in vote intention over the last election's results could have much deeper implications in the forming of our next governement. According to me, two scenarios must be considered if we are to try to guess the outcome of the upcoming elections.
First scenario: The support for Jack Layton and his party is impressive on paper, but will yield little to no additional seats for the party in the House of Commons. The NDP, it is was mentionned by many at the beginning of the campaign, has had much less ballots than the polls had predicted it would back in 2008. Why? Probably because of the laziness of their target demographic: it is of public notoriety that those who ideologically support social measures and a left-leaning governement usually participate very little in the elections. I'm looking at you, students and lower-income families. In Quebec, the feeling is that most of the seats that the NDP will steal from the Bloc will be won with votes from Blocist deserters, usually more inclined (I have no evidence to back this up mind you) to get their asses to the polling stations than the NDP folks. In the ridings where the struggle is more intense, specially in places like the Maritimes where the party is also experiencing massive gains in polls, the absence of a disciplined electorat will atomize the vote for Jack's Party. Lets also not forget that raw votes are nothing if you don't get the seat in the end... If the NDPs votes concentrate in certain circonscriptions, they have much less chance of becoming the opposition.
Second scenario: Conservative minority, NDP opposition. Betting on the fact that no opposition party has any intention to overthrow the governement over the first presented bill and make the governement even more unstable than it currently is, the Conservatives will present the Flaherty budget without modification for approval by the assembly. This cocky move is nothing that the Conservative Party is incapable of. The opposition, with nothing to lose, will vote against the budget, a choice that is concurrent with the one that threw us in an election in the first place. According to the constitution, the governor general can, in case of governement instability (aka a new executive being voted out within a couple of months of it's election), choose to use alternative measures to form an executive. Does that sound like 2008 to anyone? Except in this scenario, Ingitieff is positionned strongly against a coalition and the Bloc would be almost absent... leaving only the NDP to form the government.
Woops, NPD is now in power. Is this what Jack means when he says that he is ready to become in Prime Minister? Coming from the smart man that is Mr. Layton, it wouldn't be surprising, specially not in this period of electoral high very conducive to wishful thinking. Is this a good thing for the country? For supporters of the NDP's program, apparently geared torwards social utopia, sure. But keep in mind that another minority government, specially one that DIDN'T win elections, will get kicked out rather swiftly by the older parties at the smallest mistake. The NDP's young and unexperienced staff (which includes blonde bombshell, restaurant manager and Hull resident[!!!] Ruth Ellen Brosseau from my riding) will only catalyze this inevitable expulsion.
I know I'm repeating what everybody in the press has been telling you for the past 3 weeks, but on the 2nd of May, do go out and vote. It's your DUTY as a citizen to do so, even if it means canceling your ballot. Not to mention that it would be horrible for Canada to be second to the US in terms of participation in the elections.