I believe this is Harper anticipating the merger of the NDP and Liberals once Rae is in charge. If the Green party is strong when that happens many NDPers will go green rather than red and the left will be split two ways again.
Interesting theory... Is this a "gut feeling" or do have any sources on this?
No sources. I also believe it is why he called the bi-elections (to give Mrs. May some exposure on the eve of the convention). I also believe it is why his environmental policy wasn't as strong as many had hoped. I also believe it is why he dismissed Garth in anticipation of all the rumours about him joining the Green Party. The Green Party is more relevent than the NDP right now. And after Rae wins it will be even more pronounced.
I agree that the bi-elections would give May and the Greens some exposure. I think Harper also called the bi-elections to divide the Liberal's efforts between their leadership convention and the campaigns. It also called out the non MPs who chose to not to run in either bi-election. This could help diffuse the Michael Fortier appointment.
As for an NDP/Liberal merger, stranger things have happened in politics, although Liberal arrogance and their "proud" tradition may prevent this.
If they did merge, would the centre-right Liberals stick around? What about the loonies at the far left of the NDP, would they stick around? When the Alliance and the PC parties merged, 1+1 did not necessarily equal 2. I suspect the same thing would happen here.
They don't really need to comeback, or change significantly. The last election proved that. Perhaps if they had been reduced to third or fourth party status, but not when they still manage to get 90 seats. All they need do is more of the same, and they think the votes will return; the kicker is they are right, most likely.
Plotting comebacks is more appropriate after you are reduced to 2 seats say, or some such humiliation.
I guess "comeback" is not the term I was looking for. Maybe "return to power"?
kwlafayette is correct - the Liberals are not totally wiped off the electoral map. I don't think they are desperate enough to merge with the NDP. A bit of tweaking around the edges, but unfortunately for the Liberals, the CPC has staked the ground on a lot of these issues (crime, GST, child care credits, etc). Reaching out to the greens is one more issue that the CPC can differentiate themselves on. The Liberals did nothing in all of these areas when they were in power and Harper managed to make progressive changes in a matter of months.
The liberals thrive on not taking issue with things. When the CPC comes out strong on policy, the liberals are left confused and flounder(and tend to put their foot in their mouths). The CPC needs to keep voters informed, make a big deal of good policy and continue to be fresh and on their toes.
Come election time they need to reflect on the good they have done, and they also need to push their plans for the future. The last election's style of one-a-day policy announcements is a good way to approach it.
I think more than anything the CPC needs to keep showing off their policies as they have - keep themselves in the public eye. They need to slam the liberals for playing partisan politics with key issues like the clean air act, the accountability act and the various crime bills that the cpc has had held up.
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