Thursday, December 21, 2006

Do our MPs have some Election fever?

While they’ve since headed home for their Christmas and New Year’s break, MP’s will have more than egg nog, Christmas carols and presents on their minds as they return to their home ridings.

The federal politicians seem to be getting itchy to do some door knocking and not to drop off a Christmas card. Hot on the heels of the Liberals recent convention, all the talk in Ottawa is of bringing down the Stephen Harper government.

With Stephane Dion the newest political star in the Capital, the Liberals are feeling ready to take back the title of Government of the Day that they sometimes seem to think is their divine right.

The Bloc perhaps fearing a resurgence of Liberal support in that province, seem to be wanting to force an election as well, using the Canadian presence in Afghanistan as their possible issue, a move that if played out will no doubt revisit the ancient crises of the past in this country. It could prove to be an emotional move that might threaten to once again push the nation to a stress point that pits region against region.

All of the possibilities were examined in a Daily News interview with local MP Nathan Cullen, who gave his take on all the election speculation running through the capital these days.

Spectre of spring election looms
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

If an election is called next spring the parties responsible should do so for the right reason, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.

“(Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles) Duceppe has done this absolutely ... asinine thing suggesting that he’s going to hold a confidence vote on Afghanistan,” said Cullen. “This is connected to the fact that the Van Doos in Quebec are now going to be involved in the Afghan mission.
“It’s just ridiculous, I’m totally against this idea of bringing down a government on the backs of our soldiers — they’re two separate conversations.”

The Liberals meanwhile are already saying they’ll vote against the Conservatives next budget — an automatic confidence motion — before they’ve even seen it, he said.

“That’s what most people are counting on, most parties are planning around some type of spring election but like we saw ... the last term when the Liberals were in, it looked 99 per cent guaranteed we were going to an election,” said Cullen. “(But) we negotiated with the Liberals and re-negotiated the budget and rewrote it and then we weren’t in an election until seven or eight months later.”

As to whether or not he wants to see an election, the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says he’s torn.

“There’s some really regressive things the Conservatives have done that I fundamentally disagree with,” he said. “I don’t like the way they’ve handled Afghanistan, the environment file has been a disaster ... another billion dollars in cuts announced last week.”

“Those things I don’t agree with at all, but there’s election fatigue out there, on the part of the voters, the volunteers and everyone else. You don’t want to have an election just for some narrow interest, you want to have it for the right reasons.”

Whether or not an election happens this spring — or perhaps earlier — may be in the hands of the Liberals who are polling well in the wake of their recent leadership convention.

A new Decima research poll suggests new Liberal leader Stephane Dion would come out ahead if another election were held today, thanks to support his party is taking away from the NDP — as much as 25 per cent of the New Democrats’ total from the last election — and possibly from the Green party.

The Dec. 14 poll shows the Liberals with 35 per cent support, the Conservatives with 32 per cent, 12 per cent for the NDP, 11 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois and seven per cent for the Green party. Decima CEO Bruce Anderson added that Dion, as a “centre-left, environmentally pre-occupied, social-justice-motivated leader”’, may put further pressure on the NDP’s support, which he called “soft.”

However, Cullen attributed the positive jump in the polls to a highly publicized leadership campaign that was full of drama and a “love-in with the national press.”

“I’m comfortable keeping my powder dry on this one, I think these polls will change,” he said. “Folks take a look at Dion, I don’t think he translates well out here in the West to be frank. I think he’s got a language barrier, I think he’s drier than melba toast to watch.

“I think Mr. Dion, on Afghanistan and a few things, has not shown the command of leadership that maybe the Liberals were hoping for. He was better than their other two choices, is what I think it came down too. I honestly don’t fret at all.”

With Files from CP

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