The current mania around a spring election has started to fade, especially with Dion beginning to say the Liberals might not bring down the government over the budget.
There are good strategic reasons for this.
If, as it would appear. the economy is beginning to worsen, then the Liberals have every reason to delay. Governing parties tend to do worse when the economy is poor, so if things are getting worse, better to wait and trigger an election later when the pain of a shrinking economy is more apparent.
This alone, would be a good reason to wait. But there is another related reason to wait for the fall, and it has to do with the American election.
South of the border the Democrats will also be pounding away on the fact that the economy has run aground – in their case, they’ll blame George Bush and the Republican Party. The Liberals will stand to benefit from this in two important ways. First, the general theme of “a bad economy” will be everywhere in the press – as both the Canadian and American media will be talking about it. Canadians will simply not be able to escape the issue and the framing.
But better still, the simple fact that there is a US election means that a significant amount of media “oxygen” will be sucked up by this giant event south of the border. Like it or not, Canadians get a chunk of their media from the United States. This will make it harder for the Conservatives to implement a communication strategy to combat the issue of the poor economy – particularly as the Democratic Party is working extra time to get it in the media. In a real sense the liberals will working with the wind at their backs – benefiting from the messaging out of the US – while knowing that it will be harder for the Conservatives to create a counter-narrative.