Pity poor Paul Martin. He?s been Prime Minister for just over three months and already the honeymoon is over.
His first exhausting weeks in power have been spent dodging and ducking his government?s myriad of scandals. But what?s really been keeping Paul Martin up at night with worry is not healthcare, not the devastating beef and softwood lumber crises, nor the thought of sending our overstretched and under-equipped troops into harm?s way. No, what is currently consuming the PM and the resources of the entire Liberal government is the critical, pressing decision of when to call an election to ensure that they can hang onto power.
I?d like to offer some analysis on the question of an early election date in order to help expedite the decision since, like most Canadians, I would prefer to see the Prime Minister concentrate on the business of the nation.
The Pros (for Paul Martin) of an early election
1.Catch the Conservative Party of Canada unprepared. The longer the CPC has to solidify its grassroots policies and organization, the better prepared it will be for an election.
2.The possibility of facing off against an inexperienced CPC leader. Paul Martin could immediately pounce upon Tony Clement or Belinda Stronach before they?re ready just as Jean Chretien did with Stockwell Day.
3.Get it over with before the ?really bad stuff? is dug up by reporters, opposition MPs, Parliamentary committees and the public inquiry investigating the sponsorship scandal.
4.Claim that a new Prime Minister needs a fresh start. The longer he waits, it will become even less credible for Paul Martin to portray himself as ?new? and to distance himself from Jean Chretien.
5.A full election warchest. The Liberal Party coffers should be filled after the need for an expensive leadership race was avoided by Paul Martin?s ?coronation?.
?The Cons? of an early election
1.The Canadian electorate is still very angry about the sponsorship scandal and other scandals coming to light every day.
2.The PM will appear ?too afraid? to face the embarrassing outcome of the scandal inquiry.
3.Risks backlash for continuing the Jean Chretian legacy of calling early, unnecessary and expensive elections ? long before the official mandate expires.
4.The Liberal Party will find it hard to fight an election while Paul Martin supporters and Jean Chretien loyalists continue to fight it out in the backrooms.
Since it?s obvious that Paul Martin needs help facing this ?tremendous? decision, I have a proposal that I?ve advocated throughout the 15 years I?ve been involved in politics ? a suggestion that will completely remove this burden from our beleaguered PM ? fixed election dates.
Without the need to determine the ?perfect election date?, just imagine how much time Paul Martin and the Liberals would have to restore our crippled healthcare system, bring relief to beef farmers and negotiate with the U.S. a settlement to the softwood lumber dispute.
Instead of playing ?election roulette?, the Prime Minister could actually focus on governing the country.