The unthinkable is happening for the Liberal Party of Canada during this election.
No one would have guessed last December that Paul Martin and Co. would be a situation come June where his party, Canada’s “Natural Governing Party,” would be facing the distinct possibility of a minority government.
Now, it’s not just a possibility – it’s becoming increasingly likely.
Worse for the Grits lies in the surprising poll results of late that say the Conservatives could form a minority government if all things go well from here on for Stephen Harper.
Basically, this is bad, bad, bad news for the Liberals all around. This all has a distinct smell not unlike the 1984 federal election, where a new Liberal leader, John Turner, indirectly caused the Liberals’ implosion on election day and Brian Mulroney was swept into office in the largest majority government in Canadian history.
While Stephen Harper is no Brian Mulroney, Harper’s got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain in the coming weeks. Martin is on the defensive now, trying to hold off the dogs and make some gains through new policy initiatives and making more and more emphasis on “Team Martin” and less on the “Liberal” brand.
The true litmus test for a Conservative Party minority could come in a few weeks, when the French and English-language leaders’ debates are broadcast on TV. This is a vital moment for every leader in an election, for it is, more often than not, the forum that will help decide who Canadians vote for.
Right now, a Conservative minority with ad hoc partners in government (namely the Bloc Quebecois) or a Liberal-NDP coalition government is in the cards. Unless something radical happens in the next few weeks, the solid, 200+ seat majority that Paul Martin dreamed of is dead and gone.