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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Speaking of gambles...

With, perhaps, the exception of the Bloc, any party that wants to start an election campaign tomorrow might be crazy.

Stronach's defection has left the impression that there's no room in the Conservative Party for moderates, that the neo-cons are in charge of the Tories. Canadians have rejected that version of the right (in the clothing of the Reform and CA parties) for a number of elections now. The party needs at least a summer to get away from that impression, to take drastic steps toward highlighting the moderates that remain. Harper probably has to go.

The Liberals, already hurting from Gomery, didn't need this to add to the impression of dirty, crooked politics. I'm not going to speculate about the truth of the claim, mostly because I don't think the truth is going to matter. Will Canadians prefer the scary Tories or the crooked Liberals? Not an attractive choice.

The NDP has shone over the last two weeks. They were the party talking about the "real issues" when the Prime Minister made his televised appeal. Ed Broadbent rightfully earned the accolades of the entire House when he volunteered to pair with any Conservative member out sick during today's vote, and shamed the others into acting equally honorably. Jack Layton deserves props. But in an election that would be more about fear and anger than hope, people are going to organize around the two leading parties, and the NDP may get caught in the squeeze. On the other hand, this might be the time to gamble - what have the NDP got to lose? Of the three parties, the risk/reward calculation might be most favourable for the NDP.

At this point, I don't think the campaign will start tomorrow. If it does, it might be the biggest gaffe of the whole election.

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