Politics as usual promised in new year
The opposition party leaders have spoken: Canadians should expect an election in 2008.
In theory, at least.
Less than two months after insisting Canadians don't want an election, Stephane Dion is once again pledging himself to defeating the upcoming spring budget.
It's like deja vu all over again.
"After two years of this minority Conservative government, the psychological threshold will have been reached," Dion announced. "People may not want, necessarily, an election, but they will not be surprised if there is one."
This coming from the man who so recently led his party into months of avoiding every opportunity to defeat the government. Canadians will probably be forgiven if they're less than convinced.
Jack Layton certainly isn't.
"[Dion] has been propping up Mr. Harper all fall, and abstaining on a throne speech that's explicitly said we'll stay in Afghanistan longer, we will abandon Kyoto and we'll give huge tax reductions to those doing well," Layton sniffed.
Even Gilles Duceppe is looking foward the spring budget with eager eyes. "I don't see how their budget will be supported by any of the opposition parties," he insists.
Yet just as all the government-slaying rhetoric about the budget was overdue this time last year, it's doubly overdue this year, as experts are looking toward a "tame budget".
According to Toronto Dominion bank's Don Drummond, recent economic misgivings expressed by Harper suggest this upcoming budget will be a little less spectacular than usual. "We are so used to, in Canada, to have blockbuster budgets that always have billions and billions of dollars in new spending, or billions of dollars in tax cuts, and I just don't think we're going to have that in 2008," Drummond said.
If the government does, indeed, advance a moderate budget come spring, opposition leaders may have a tough time trying to sell defeating the government to the Canadian people.
After all, Dion started his ruminations about defeating the government bright and early in 2007. It shouldn't shock Canadians that he would do so even earlier with his party tied in the polls.
Although it may cause nervousness in some Conservative party circles, the opposition promises to force an election in 2008 really amount to nothing more than business-as-usual under a minority Parliament.
But the Conservatives have proven to have more tricks up their political sleeve than the opposition gave them credit for in 2007, and one can rest assured that all the opposition talk of defeating the government will vanish without a trace if the government makes it politically inexpedient to do so.
The political doomsday clock may be running, but under a minority parliament, it always is.
The opposition threats to defeat the government in 2008 is really nothing more than business-as-usual, and business-as-usual is precisely what Canadians should expect.