The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Monday, May 12, 2003

Martin should think twice about a snap election

Seems that Paul Martin is contemplating a Spring 2004 election call if he wins the Liberal leadership this fall. (Granted, this is all but assured barring a catastrophe.) He’d better forget that plan if he’s serious about addressing concerns in the western provinces.

If the next election is called before July 21, 2004, the House will still have 301 members, distributed according to the 1996 representation order. After that date, there will be two extra seats for BC and Alberta, and three more in Ontario. BC’s new seats will be in the Fraser Valley and the Burnaby-New Westminster areas, while Calgary and Edmonton will each get an extra MP.

One of the major gripes in BC and Alberta—whether or not you buy into any of the other western complaints—is that both provinces are under-represented in the House compared to their share of Canada’s population. This is interpreted by some uninformed folks in these parts as an “Eastern” conspiracy to screw the West. (Never mind that Ontario is just as under-represented under the current formula, or the over-representation of Saskatchewan and Manitoba thanks to the “33rd Parliament” clause; it gets in the way of a good rant.) If the next election is held under the current representation, that keeps BC and Alberta with the same number of seats for another three or four years, while their share of the Canadian population continues to grow.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the Canadian Alliance will use this as a weapon against Martin and the Grits if they call an early election, and that the backlash might cost the Liberals several seats that they have a good chance of picking up under the Alliance.

The Alliance can paint a snap election as one more example of an Eastern establishment man doing his best to screw the West… just like Trudeau, like Mulroney, like Chrétien. Add that to the fact that it would be another election held only 3 1/2 years since the last one. They’ll be able to ask voters, especially in BC and Alberta: Is this Montreal shipping magnate a damn bit different from the last three Québec Prime Ministers? As disastrous as playing the Quebec card is in much of Canada, it plays well in parts of the West.

While it’s true that half of the new seats in the West are in likely Alliance territory, the fact is that the Grits have a decent shot in the other two, and to call a snap election costs them winnable seats in Greater Vancouver and Edmonton. Does he (or do his advisors) really think he’ll lose more Central Canadian seats with a fall election that he would lose in the West in Spring?

You’ve got to wonder how that’s playing with Liberals in the West. By and large, western Liberals support Martin and expect him to lead the party to results that the Liberals haven’t known for three decades. This can’t be too encouraging.

The Anointed One would be wise to hold off on a snap election, and instead spend a few months Martinizing the federal government while waiting for the 2004 representation order to kick in. Both actions will win him favour with voters who have parked their votes with the Alliance while not being entirely enthusiastic for the CA’s fiscal and social policies—those voters that Martin needs in order to win substantial support this side of Winnipeg.
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