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Spring 2010 election? Pundits say yes

Does the prorogation of Parliament presage a spring election? Two respected pundits say yes; a major pollster reports growing Conservative strength.

Writing on the CBC website, Don Newman discusses Stephen Harper's likely strategy:

If Parliament returned as first planned on January 25, his administration would again be under fire over how much it knew about the torturing of Afghan detainees by the government in Kabul.

He also knew that, with a budget to be delivered on March 4, all those previous weeks in the House of Commons would have been filled with opposition suggestions for what to put in it.

Meanwhile, Norman Spector predicts in the Globe and Mail that April 13 will be election day. Among his reasons:

If Mr. Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament was designed to thwart further investigation into the Afghan detainees issue (why else would he have done the dirty deed?), he will be looking to ensure from the get-go that the opposition parties don’t pick up where they left off as soon as the new session begins. A quick election call would neatly do the trick, especially given Canadians’ apparently lukewarm interest in the issue.

Spector bases his arguments in part on a December 30 Nanos poll that shows Conservative support up 2 points to 40% in mid-December. The Liberals are up 1 point to 30% and the NDP are up 1 to 19%.

Perhaps more significantly, the Nanos poll also shows that when Canadians are asked who would make the best prime minister, Ignatieff is down 6 points to 18% and Layton is up 4 points to 15%. That makes Harper's own 2-point drop to 35% less worrying for the Conservatives.

In the regional breakdown of committed voters, the Nanos poll shows the Conservatives doing better in December than they had in November in most regions.

They fell slightly in Ontario and more sharply in Atlantic Canada. But they were sharply higher in B.C., rising from 34.8% to 43.2%.

So far, no one has mentioned Bill C-16, the fixed election date legislation that the Conservatives introduced in 2006 and that was passed by Parliament on November 6 of that year.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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