He may have had a bit of false bravado after an Ekos poll suggested that Harper was 10 points above Michael Ignatieff. But the Reformers were quick to get out a memo telling their people not to get too excited because their own internal polling showed very different results.
And now they are saying that they are not quite as ready to go to the polls as Finley might suggest.
Conservatives are playing down the prospect of a fall election, despite threats of a snap vote from the party's national campaign director. Election speculation, never entirely muted in a minority parliament, went into hyper drive Thursday after opposition members of the Senate finance committee voted to strip a number of controversial measures out of the government's massive budget implementation bill.Thank heavens there is one Progressive Conservative in the Senate who doesn't take kindly to tricks and bullying. In Kingston both Hugh Segal and the Reformer candidate Brain Abrams, claim to be Red Tories. No Red Tory in their right mind would ever agree to this. None.
The move prompted Tory Senator Doug Finley, the party's head campaign honcho, to warn that Conservatives are ready to plunge into an election if the budget bill is revised. However, a spokesman for the prime minister immediately let it be known that Stephen Harper "isn't looking to call an election this fall." And Harper backed that up Friday by bolstering Conservative ranks in the Senate, signalling that he'd rather fight to save the budget bill rather than call an election over it. Harper appointed former Tory candidate Salma Ataullahjan to fill the one Senate vacancy, bringing the Tories to 52 seats in the 105-seat chamber — just shy of an absolute
Lowell Murray is not a Liberal. But the Progressive Conservative senator finds himself voting with the opposition Liberals against the Stephen Harper government these days to protest an abuse of Parliament. That it should fall to an unelected Tory senator to defend our democratic institutions shows how Canadians are being held hostage by the subterfuge of spin and cynicism that passes for federal politics in the Harper era.These kind of Gestapo tactics should have died with the Gestapo.
A one-time Tory cabinet minister, Murray cannot stomach the government’s tactics in lumping together several complex issues into a grab-bag “omnibus bill” — tied to the budget to make it a “confidence” matter that would trigger an election if defeated.
As Canadians showed when Harper prorogued Parliament last December, they care deeply about abuses of parliamentary procedure. So too, at one time, did Harper. In 1994, Harper complained vociferously about a previous Liberal government’s omnibus bill that dumped disparate bits of government business into one piece of legislation as a way of quickly tying up loose ends. Back then, Harper argued that “the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles.” But that old Liberal bill was a mere 21 pages long. His own Conservative omnibus legislation is an unprecedented 880 pages long and contains 2,200 sections.