Monday, December 20, 2010

Parliamentary numbers

Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed two folks to the Senate--former CFL commissioner Larry Smith and Toronto preacher Don Meredith, bumping the Conservatives' standings in the 105 seat Senate to 54, just short of a majority but enough to get bills from the House passed and defeat opposition bills. (Correction: strikeout "just short of a majority")

As well, the Globe and Mail has an interesting and easy to read article on seat standings in the House of Commons.

HOUSE OF COMMONS


Current
Hypothetical*
Difference
Conservative
143
154
+11
Liberal
77
73
-4
BQ
47
47
n/c
NDP
36
32
-4
Ind.
2
2
n/c
Vacant
3

-3

* - if Conservatives win all vulnerable seats and incumbant parties win vacanies.
So in the hypothetical situation, the Conservatives would be in majority zone with 50% of the seats, plus the two independents who usually vote with the government.

Now let's look at the senate.


SENATE

Current
Hypothetical*
Difference
Conservative
54
43
-11
Liberal
47
41
-6
BQ
0
14
+14
NDP
0
4
+4
Progressive Conservative
2
1
-1
Ind.
2
2
n/c

* - if an elected Senate were in place in 1995.  Now this isn't entirely accurate of today's political climate but shows why there's a push by the Conservatives to have 8-year term limits for senators to try and knock off as many Liberals as possible.

ELECTION SPECULATION

Opposition Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has been throwing speculation balloons out there regarding the upcoming federal budget and that the Liberals will vote against it likely to trigger an election.  While at the same time, the Prime Minister has smartly said that there won't be a "poison pill" in the budget to vote against.  But that doesn't mean there might be a contentious one for the Liberals to trigger an election on and that issue may be the election focus among other things like a North American border for freer trade, refugee reform, and the continuing justice bills.

By saying he doesn't want to trigger an election, what the Prime Minister has done is put the ball in Ignatieff's hands.  The Conservatives are in power, have been leading in the polls, have way more money than the Liberals, and are also getting things through the Senate now so the momentum is with them for sure.  If the Liberals want to have an election, bring it on, but Canadians will know that it was Ignatieff who triggered it.  So in essence, Harper has once again out-manoeuvred Iggy once again.

MY PREDICTION

My guess is that secret backroom Liberals controlled by Bob Rae will push to defeat the budget, go for an election, sour the campaign to make Ignatieff look bad, reducing the number of Liberals seats to about 70, with the Conservatives barely winning a majority. Then a legitimate summer/fall Liberal leadership race will happen with Bob Rae going up against Trudeau, Kennedy, LeBlanc, and a handful of other candidates who want name recognition.

LIBERAL-NDP MERGER

If the Conservative get another minority, former NDP now Liberal leader Bob will push for the creation of the Liberal Democrats as a merger between the Liberals and NDP.  If a merger happens (although I don't think it will) the opposition will defeat the government again in late 2012 or 2013.  Bob may be in a good position here though as Canadians may grow tired of Stephen Harper, including Conservatives who wanted a majority.

In regards to the merger, there are a chunk of blue liberals who would probably jump ship to the Conservatives knowing there would be a strong socialist wing to the party.  And don't count out the Greens.  If they ever get a new leader who actually has political prowess, the Greens could cause vote splitting.

BACK TO THE PRESENT

So I think if Harper actually sees that the odds of a majority is above 40%, he'll poison the budget enough for the Liberals to have no choice but to defeat it.  If not, how long will Ignatieff wait as opposition leader and how long will Bob Rae sit and wait for his opportunity to strike?

In the meantime, Stephen Harper really has nothing to lose either way.

6 comments:

redensign said...

Actually, the Conservatives already have a majority in the Senate. 53 is the number needed for a majority and they have 54.

Anonymous said...

I still think the Liberals will force Ignatieff to take a walk in the snow and Bob Rae will take over.

Anonymous said...

The growing number of Conservative Senators is the reason the Liberals will go for broke this spring and force an election (with the NDP joining them for the same reason).

Beginning in May 2011, another 11 Senators will be forced to retire because of age during calendar 2011 (5 Cons., 5 Libs., 1 PC). If Harper is still PM by the end of 2011, and appoints all replacements, the Conservatives will have an overwhelming majority (60 Cons., 42 Libs., 1 PC., 2 Inds.). This majority could be even larger if there are deaths during the year.Given the age structure of the remaining Senators, the Conservatives would hold the majority for another 5 years to 2017.

If the Liberals wait to 2012 to force an election, any resulting Liberal minority or coalition government would face a solid Conservative majority in the Senate to hold up or defeat its more radical proposals for several years to come.

Therefore, it is imperative for the Liberals (and their possible coalition allies the NDP) to force an election before June 2011. They cannot wait to 2012 because of the shifting balance of power in the Senate. If the Liberal get back into power by June 2011, and make the replacement appointments during 2011,the composition of the Senate would change back to 53 Libs., 49 Cons., 1 PC., 2 Inds. by the end of 2011.

hatrock said...

Excellent point. So basically for the Liberals, it's now or never and hope for the best.

Hoarfrost said...

I sure don't want Bob Rae as a potential Prime Minister.

Anonymous said...

Yer damn close to the truth here. Erie indeed. (real conservative)