Marc’s Posts

March 2011

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Federal Election Update

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 @ 04:03 PM

Today federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed that the federal government will table its latest budget on March 22, 2011.

The minority Conservative government must gain the support of at least one of the three opposition parties for the budget to pass. If the government is unsuccessful in passing the budget, the government will fall as it will have “lost the confidence of the House”.

Currently both the opposition Liberals and Bloc have indicated they will not support the budget. The Liberals sticking point is the issue of continuing corporate tax cuts which they oppose at this time. The Bloc under Duceppe has indicated that they could support the budget if $2 billion in HST compensation was included. It is somewhat unlikely that this will occur although “discussions are ongoing”.

This leaves the fate of the current government in the hands of Jack Layton and the NDP.  The NDP has asked the Conservative government for four measures in the budget:

  1. Remove the HST from home heating bills and restore the EcoEnergy Retrofit program.
  2. Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement  for low-income seniors
  3. Expand & strengthen the Canada Pension Plan
  4. Increase the number of family doctors (5 million Canadians do not have access a family doctor)


Following the budget being tabled on March 22, there will be a vote in the House. If all three parties vote against the budget (vote to be held within the week following the budget) then the government will be defeated.

A likely Election Day is May 02, 2011.

Recent polls have the Conservatives on the edge of majority territory. Harper’s Conservatives have polled in the high 30’s through much of February, and in the most recent poll (yesterday) Conservative support is pegged at 43%.

The recent surge in Conservative support has occurred over the last few weeks so there is some debate regarding the “depth” and “staying power” of this level of support.

New seat projections have averaged the last few polls and show seat gains for both the governing Conservatives (+9), the Bloc (+5) and declines for both the NDP (-5) and Liberals (-4) from their current seat totals.

The Conservatives remain just shy of a majority under this model.

The question is whether or not the PM wants to roll the dice on a majority. This is likely his last chance to show the Conservative base that he can deliver. If he falls short, the leadership race will commence soon after.

However, if the polls are solid, the PM has never been this close before. It may prove too tempting to resist and if that is the case, the government will not work with the NDP or Bloc and will in fact engineer its own defeat.

Over the next few weeks, watch the polls and not Jack or Gilles…it really won’t be their call!

- Marc Kealey

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