Saturday, January 13, 2007

Could Harper survive an election loss?

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

There's lots of talk about a possible election. There's lots of talk about a possible Liberal win. Everybody seems to assume that Harper would be done if that were to happen. I'm not so sure.

If the Conservatives were to have a former Prime Minister sitting in Parliament, why would they want to get rid of him? Why not have him stick around for a bit? If Dion is a breath of fresh air after a year, then Harper could resign. If people start to miss Harper, then he could wait for the next election. However, if Harper resigns immediately then the Tories would lose the ability to choose. They would have to pick a new face and hope for the best.

Let's face it - the Canadian public does not follow politics very closely. As an example, I ran into my cousin the other day before leaving for Mississauga. When I told her what I was going to be doing, she admitted that she doesn't read the news. She is not alone. The fact of the matter is that any opportunity you have to offer people something that they know is a good one. In the case of Trudeau in 1980, Canadians even elected a man they disliked just because they wanted a steady hand. Would the Liberals have been better off without him at the time? Suddenly Clark would have been the guy with experience.

It just so happens that Martin made the right decision to step down. However, it did not have to be that way. What would have happened if Harper had been as bad as some of us expected him to be? Wouldn't the Liberals have been safer with Martin ready to lead the party into a June election if necessary? Things didn't turn out that way, but that doesn't mean things couldn't have turned out that way.

If I were a Tory, I would obviously be upset with an election loss. However, I would also recognize that Conservative Prime Ministers don't come around very often in Canada. Who is waiting in the wings? Peter MacKay? Rona Ambrose? Jason Kenney? Wajid Khan? The fact of the matter is that Harper is the best they have. I'm not so sure an election loss would decide his fate.

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