Why is it that when our federal party leaders all say they don't want an election, you can be almost certain we're having an election, asks Rex.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
Rex Murphy, January 27th, 2011
It's that odd, unnerving season in Ottawa when all the politicians swear the same thing. They're like birds on a wire, chirping the same monotonous song. “No-one wants an election.” “We don't want an election.” “This is beyond a doubt the worst time to have an election.”
Well, when you have that kind of unanimity from the politicians on a subject as important as not having an election, you can take it from me - we're going to have an election.
The Conservatives don't want an election. Why, right here on this program, Stephen Harper told Peter Mansbridge, more or less, he didn't want an election.
So, naturally, the Tories then let loose a volley of their patented attack ads, stopping only short of suggesting Michael Ignatieff is an extraterrestrial life-form, here on a scouting mission for unknown menaces beyond the galaxy.
And then Mr. Harper further floats the perfectly toxic idea of killing federal subsidies to the parties, and warning ominously of “a possible coalition” - two sharp sticks to goad his enemies. Take all these things together and it looks to me like the guy who says he doesn't want an election really, you know, wants an election.
The Liberals are pretty clear, too. They absolutely don't want an election. No way. That's why their leader is touring ridings in midwinter, making rambunctious speeches and prattling on about being ready to take on Stephen Harper.
We may take it as an axiom by now that it's bad news for all concerned when any echoes of pugilism, boxing, or the Rocky movies in any of their endless incarnations, show up in Michael Ignatieff's talks. Either someone has spiked the oatmeal (the professor is not Stallone), or - he wants an election.
The Bloc? Well, whenever Gilles Duceppe “demands” 5 billion dollars for Quebec, or he'll “vote down the budget,” we know he doesn't want an election. No, of course not. What he wants is for Ottawa to send a river of money into Quebec, and give the Bloc Quebecois credit for every single loonie of the extorted five billion. And then – we won't have an election.
Jack Layton doesn't want an election either, no sir. Why just today he said he will “look at the whole budget” before deciding whether to defeat it. Very holistic of him. His lieutenant, Thomas Mulcair, is, however much more focused. He's fixated only on the corporate tax cuts, which he won't support.
So unless the NDP have figured out a way to support the whole budget while voting down a key provision - a little like separating Daffy and Duck – they, too, want an election.
Tie all these considerations to a most recent poll shows that only 15% of Canadians are the slightest bit interested in politics right now (I'm paraphrasing), and that the other 85% would rather have a collective root canal than a spring election, and it looks to me that that just about seals the deal.
We're having an election.
For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.