21 November 2005

Stevie Harper and the tin cup of firewater

Seems that Official Opposition leader Steve Harper is still careening toward an election sooner rather than later.

The most amazing thing about this drive to an election is that the polls are consistently running against all Opposition parties, except for the Bloc Quebec. In 1979, the last time a minority government fell on a confidence motion, public opinion ran squarely against the government and in favour of the Opposition Liberals.

A major battleground will be the swing seats in central and western Ontario. Most polls show that minor changes in the popular vote can produce enough switching in these seats to create a Conservative minority government.

Meanwhile, in the far east, it seems that the Conservatives have identified St. John's South-Mount Pearl as a potential swing seat. For those who don't know, the Connies already hold that seat, but expect that the incumbent will have a tough time hanging on to his seat against a strong competitor.

In the face of that likely tough fight, expect incumbent Loyola Hearn to either switch seats to Avalon - vacated by John Efford whom Hearn could never hope to have beaten and where Hearn actually lives - or to pack it in altogether and take his federal and provincial political pensions with him.

While he sits as a member of parliament in Ottawa, double-dipping Hearn continues to collect a provincial pension from his days as a Tory cabinet minister in the 1980s and opposition member in the early 1990s. His colleague, Norm Doyle, donates his provincial pension to local charities while he collects a salary as a federal member of parliament.