Stephen Harper has been playing all of the cards in order to force an election before the September 8th by-elections. The Governer General trip to the Bejing Paralympics has been cancelled making her available to meet with the Prime Minister. Harper has spent a great deal of time explaining the loophole that would allow him to call an election. He has also spent months campaigning that parliament is broken. Stephane Dion is trying to hold off an election before he has some positive results from a by-election win. Even if they win only one riding (for a net loss of one) he has demonstrated his ability to trump it up as a great Liberal victory.
There are two major downsides to fixed election dates. The first is that the government is still able to manipulate government spending to maximize the benefit of the election date. The second is that this session of parliament is a prime example of when the PM needs to have the power to call an election. Instead of applying the loophole Harper choose to use the situation to embarrass the Liberal party vote after vote.
With the negative consequences of fix election dates, it is ashame that the Conservatives would have an exit plan when the rules were not convenient. There are a number of very important issues at stake in this election. There is a good chance that this turns into a referendum on the Liberal Green Shift plan. If that is the case, how the election was called will be a minor factor in the final results. Should the scenario play out as expected, Harper has once again found the way to use the rules of Parliament to his advantage. He definite deserves credit for being a master strategist on both sides of the House.