There are many who believe that Stephan Harper is itching for an election and will do anything to force one to be called. The best strategy to achieve a majority government is to continue to govern responsibly. The strategy for this session of parliament is to continue to push through their mandate while exposing weaknesses in the Liberal Party. Today's throne speech gives parliament a mandate that the Liberals simply cannot accept. There is nothing significant in it that would make a strong platform for the Liberals to campaign against. The Conservatives have the funding and all hands on deck to effectively fight an election. The Liberals are divided and don't have the funds to run an effective campaign.
The government announced that they would like to finish up operations in Afghanistan by 2011 extending the current mandate from February 2009. The Liberals have been demanding for months a clear message to NATO allies that the mission will not be extended. The Conservatives have appointed former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley to lead the commission to decide what the government should do past the current mandate. It appears the government is creating a clear exit strategy while, the Liberals want a fixed date to just pack up and go home regardless of the consequences. As the Liberals develop their own plan for withdrawal, there may be very little difference between the Liberal and Conservative exit strategy besides the date.
The government has made it clear that the Kyoto targets are unattainable. The thrown speech wiped out the Clean Air Act that had been amended beyond recognition by the opposition parties in order to meet Kyoto targets. The government now has a clean slate to try to introduce environment legislation that is more appealing and realistic than the last two bills that failed to become law. For Stephane Dion to go home to his dog 'Kyoto' after allowing this declaration to be accepted further widdle down Dion's claim to be the champion of the environment. Combined with his agreement to let Green Party leader Elizabeth May to run unopposed will shift the environmental vote to shift to the Green Party and the NDP.
Law & Order
Canadians are looking for the government to do more about crime. The Conservatives are going to bring an Omnibus bill to bring back all of the legislation that did not pass (including raising age of sexual consent) because it was tied up in the senate. This will be a confidence motion. Bringing down the government for trying to reduce crime is just not going to be a popular move. If the Senate chooses once again to hold up this legislation, it will reflect poorly on the rest of the Liberal party.
Tax cuts are on the way. Most of the details will be unveiled in the coming months. The government will move forward in reducing the GST by and additional 1%. This was originally promised to be done by 2010. This give the Conservatives credit for fulfilling a major election promise. In 1993 the Liberal red book promised to scrap the GST. Just as in the last election, the Liberals will look silly trying to defend the GST .
Limit spending on new programs in areas of Provincial jurisdiction
This is a symbolic law as it can be overturned by any future government that this law would interfere with. This is a law that mostly appeals in Quebec. Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale expressed concerns about this idea. This is building on a law already on the books brought in by Stephane Dion in 1999. A flip flop on this law from Dion will not help in building his image as someone who should be Prime Minister.
Harper has set in motion a plan to fulfill his mandate without the need for another election. Any attempts to stop him will result in an election where Harper will seek a mandate directly from Canadians. There are still a lot of risks in this game of chicken. Harper appears to have placed himself in the best possible position no matter what the outcome is.