The 31 month-old minority Conservative government won approval from the Governor General today for an election on 14th October. A number of factors underpin Conservative hopes of increasing their tally of seats:
- Although Stephen Harper is not a charismatic figure he has a comfortable lead as voters’ choice for preferred prime minister. 50% see him as best PM, compared with just 19% for the main opposition leader, the Canadian Liberals’ Stephane Dion.
- The unpopularity of Liberal plans to introduce a carbon tax – that, it is promised, will be used to reduce other taxes. 65% of Albertans, 45% of residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and 44% of British Columbians fear the proposed carbon tax "will likely wreak havoc" on the economy, according to Ipsos Reid. The Conservatives are promising no big changes to economic management and given the uncertainties of the Canadian and world economy the intention is to
present any change as too great a risk. That message is summarised in the graphic above from the Canadian Conservatives’ website.
Greg Weston of the Winnipeg Sun summarises the two main parties’ strategies:
"If the Conservatives can make the campaign all about the wobbly leadership and mangled messaging of Stephane Dion, the Liberals will likely be done like Thanksgiving dinner. But if the Grits can successfully frame Stephen Harper as an icy, right-wing autocrat who can’t be trusted with a majority government, the Conservatives may equally be in for an uphill campaign."
The road to a Conservative majority goes through the French province of Quebec. Mr Harper’s first campaign stop will be there. The ‘Family is everything’ video below also attempts to present Mr Harper as a family man. He has traditionally polled less well among women:
He reminded Canadians of his minority government’s achievements since coming to office:
- "Today tax freedom day — the day you stop working for the government and start working for yourself — arrives 11 days earlier than it did in 2005."
- "Today our laws are tougher, sentences are longer and victims are better protected."
- A recognition of Quebec as a nation.
Polls point to modest Tory gains if the election were held today but not an end to minority government status. Liberal leader Stephane Dion accuses the Conservatives of breaking a pledge to hold elections at fixed intervals. The Conservatives respond by saying that opposition tactics have made continued minority government unworkable.
We recommend BloggingTories as a gateway to keeping in touch with the campaign.