Prime Minister Stephen Harper's kickoff for his caucus retreat tonight is being advance-billed as The Dion Dare, a gauntlet he will throw down at Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's feet demanding he pull the parliamentary plug this fall or back away from his chronically empty election bluster until next year.
The Dion Dare? HA! It's the cat, playing with the rat. Conservatives are ready, it's the Liberal party that isn't. Now, I have to admit, being here in Conservative land, my view might be skewed, but we are ready to go and get our Conservative MP re-elected by over 60% again!
It's a government that seems eager to make itself very easy to defeat -- and the Official Opposition may find it very hard to resist the temptation to oblige.
Mr. Harper is expected to gloat at being handed the perfect campaign weapon with which to eviscerate the Liberals -- Mr. Dion's $15-billion carbon tax is a tough sell to an electorate that doesn't believe it will get it back, as promised, in tax rebates.
But as news of four-digit layoffs become a gloomy fixture in the headlines, and giant slabs of Arctic ice break free as an alleged result of man-made climate change, there's an alignment of economic and environmental circumstances coming together for the Liberals.
Here's where Martin gets it wrong, but don't tell the Liberals. The environment is going to take a huge beating in the next election, people only pay attention to it when the economy is good. Right now in Ontario, people are more interested in keeping their jobs than worrying about a harmless gas they can't even see. Martin should also check out the fact that Arctic ice is heavier this year and that giant slabs of Arctic ice always break off in the summer! Also believe it or not our cute little polar bears are doing just fine, eating all those baby seals!
The next Liberal gabfest is scheduled for December. That timetable squeezes Mr. Dion into a rock-hard predicament that gives his rivals considerable hope they will have him shoved out by next summer.
If he forces a fall vote, the convention will be pushed back to next spring, where he will likely be turfed by a party that will accept nothing less than a Prime Minister Dion as leadership success.
But if the campaign starts after the scheduled 2008 convention, Mr. Dion will have almost two years to rebuild a support base before his leadership is validated or revoked at the next biennial gathering of the Grits in late 2010.
The Liberals can not get rid of Dion at the December convention, they elected him, and they have no proof he would lose the election with the numbers showing the Conservatives and Liberals tied, so they are stuck with him. I suspect Liberal friendly pollsters are telling Canadians one thing (tie), and internal polls are telling a whole different story (Conservative win), but the Liberal media has now put the Liberals in a bind, they can't get rid of Dion!
That means Dion would be smart to wait until Oct 2009, by then people might have forgotten his green shaft. Only remaining question, how smart is Dion?? HA!