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September 29, 2005
Will Paul Martin And Autumn Leaves Begin To Fall?

The Globe & Mail reports that Tory polling shows the Liberal lead eroding once again, and with the NDP pulling out of the temporary alliance that kept the Martin government in power last May, autumn might see more than just leaves fall. The NDP fired the first shot yesterday, as Ed Broadbent scolded the Liberals for reneging on electoral reform and indicating that it didn't need to wait for the full Gomery report to come out next year to act:

Talk of a snap fall election is creeping into the political chatter on Parliament Hill as the NDP strikes a harder tone toward the Liberals and the Conservatives say their internal polling has them within four percentage points of the Liberals.

Veteran NDP MP Ed Broadbent accused the Liberals during Question Period yesterday of backing down on a promise to launch consultations this fall on electoral reform.

"Is this not another extraordinary example of the cynicism and empty rhetoric of the government that the people of Canada want removed?" he said.

Outside the House, NDP MP Joe Comartin said the public could support an election after the first Gomery report into what happened with the sponsorship program is released Nov. 1, but before the second Gomery report with recommendations comes out Feb. 1.

The NDP split with the Grits comes at a good time for the Conservatives. According to the G&M's inside sources, the private polling done by the Tories show them only trailing the Liberals 33%-29% coming out of the summer doldrums. With the NDP taking the aggressive position on a possible no-confidence motion, they could avoid some of the political heat for causing new elections and force the issue back onto corruption and competence.

The timing gets problematic, however. Any snap election will have to have its campaign through Christmas, with the earliest day for actual voting Boxing Day. It's not exactly what most Canadians have in mind for a national holiday, nor will a Christmas campaign hold much appeal to the electorate either. A move for a no-confidence resolution would realistically create a January election, when the weather reaches its nadir. After that, the initiation of an election would almost certainly have to wait until March, when the second and final Gomery report would be right around the corner.

If the NDP wants it badly enough, we could see a Christmas election, and the NDP might take the political heat for triggering it just to distance itself from Paul Martin. Don't expect the Tories to roll the dice like that for themselves with such a precarious political position to protect.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 29, 2005 6:47 AM

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