MATIAS DE DOVITIIS*
Stephen Harper has just created the most expensive election in Canadian history and the longest one in living memory. One canassume that he is feeling the heat of dropping poll numbers. Elections are normally 4 to 6 weeks. This year’s election will be 11 weeks. This allows the Conservative Party to spend up to $30
million more on the election (every day extended gives them more room to spend) and they have a lot of more money than the other parties. The spending advantage is seeing widely as the reason for the longer campaign.
All of this happens after the Federal government spent millions on Conservative friendly ads (this would be your money being spent reader, tax money). The Federal contract for advertisement finished at the end of July, and Harper called the election over the long weekend. Outside of the Conservative party and TV network advertisement sale agents, this turn of events is not good for anyone. Bringing more money into politics is generally a bad thing. Also, who really needs to have an election that covers so many days? If anything, this is likely to turn the public off as the news coverage becomes monotonous over time.?
Harper’s decision certainly goes back to his sagging poll numbers.
The NDP is leading in most polls and the Conservatives are 6 to 8 percentage back of where they were last time at this point in the election, enough for them to be in minority territory at best. This means that the next Parliament, if the polls are correct, will be a minority government. Harper is unlikely to win support of the other parties to form a coalition in this scenario, leaving the task of forming government to the NDP and he may not last long after that as leader of the party if this turns out to be the case.
The threat of an NDP government is not his only problem. He also faces a sagging economy (a mild recession, the second one under his government), the Senate scandal, the largest ever contingent of retiring MP’s and an uninspired base. All in all, it seems that Harper’s Conservatives are worried and that they will not leave any gun powder left unused before this is over. Get ready for a lot of Conservatives ads during your favourite show this summer.
*Uruguayan-Canadian political analyst, based in Toronto.