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Harper’s Dam Busting

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Michael Ignatieff

Finally. With the stand-off last week over the proroguing of Parliament, the dam broke and suddenly there is real change flowing on Canada’s national political scene for the first time in years.

Stéphane Dion is about to be go. Michael Ignatieff, or Count Iggy as some call him, should be crowned the de facto leader of the Liberal Party by lunch tomorrow- or by Tuesday at the very latest. 

We only have Stephen (Avoid Parliament) Harper to thank for this. The flurry of activity last week between the Liberals and the NDP and the very real possibility of a coalition government made the movers and shakers inside the Liberal Party wake up and smell the socialist coffee. Couple that with the embarrassingly incompetent address from the Leader of the Opposition last Friday and Dion was looking at the end of his Prime Ministerial hopes by Sunday morning.

So when Parliament returns next month, thanks to his own political blunder of enormous proportions, Harper will be facing a very different House of Commons: a Liberal Party picking up steam united under Ignatieff- a leadership candidate who has been against the coalition but prepared to use a coalition of sorts only on his terms.

So that means the NDP will have to forego taking office in Ottawa for another time while Parliament gets back to dealing with the economic crisis. Ignatieff has made it clear that Harper must deal substantially with the economic crisis in January or there will be a significant price to pay. Don’t forget, Harper is still in a minority situation. Should the Liberals be unhappy with the new budget, you can bet your boots that the NDP will be too. Together they could, and probably will, defeat Harper’s Conservative government.

Should Harper’s government fall, given Ignatieff’s stance against the coalition, there will be no coalition ready to take over. The Governor General will have no choice but to send Canadians back to the polls for the second time in four months and the fifth time in eight years.

It won’t be a good election for Harper either. Most of the troubles for the Liberals had virtually nothing to do with any Liberal policies and more to do with turf wars inside the Liberal Party capped off by Stéphane Dion’s inept leadership. So with Dion and some of his operatives out of the picture, there will be a resurgent Liberal Party ready to draw blood in the next election. Harper doesn’t have a chance.

The Conservatives will lose the next election and Harper will be gone in days, if not hours, after that moment.

So quite amazingly, in the short span of a weekend, we have gone from facing a coalition government that few wanted to seeing a new Liberal leader (and the one who should have been leader two years ago), a general election that will produce real change, and a new Conservative leader by the end of 2009.

Wow. And to think we can thank Stephen Harper. Sometimes when you play with fire, it can blow up in your face- and blow up dams. As of tonight, Harper’s probably wishing he never played with the matches that set a fire under the Opposition- and blew up the status quo.

Because if Harper had left well-enough alone, we’d still be looking at a Conservative minority government with Harper as Prime Minister two years from now.

But instead, Harper will be a foot-note in the annals of history and Ignatieff will be the one to lead Canadians into the next decade with a majority government in the House of Commons.