Canada’s prime minister dissolved Parliament on Sunday and called an early election next month in hopes of strengthening his Conservative minority government’s hold on power.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s party needs to win an additional 28 seats to have a majority in Parliament. Although he has played down that possibility, polls in recent days indicate his right wing party has a chance to do so.
The Oct. 14 election will be Canada’s third ballot in four years.
The Conservatives unseated the Liberal Party in 2006 after nearly 13 years in power, but as a minority government the Conservatives have been forced to rely on opposition lawmakers to pass legislation and adopt budgets.
I don’t doubt for a second that Harper will remain in power, but I think he also has the potential to become a victim of his own success here. Stéphane Dion, the Liberal leader, would almost certainly have to resign should Harper get a majority government, especially given the trouble he’s had during his first year in office. He won the leadership in a freak come-from-behind victory based on an alliance with Gerard Kennedy; the two frontrunners there, Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, would certainly love to take Dion’s place, and would be much stronger and electorally effective leaders. By crushing Dion so early in his tenure, Harper could very well lead to the rise of a more potent opposition leader who’ll batter him in later elections.
Anyway, if Dion is forced to step down after an electoral defeat, he’ll be the first Liberal leader since Edward Blake in 1887 to never become Prime Minister. That’s gotta hurt.