Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Closer to a control over the Federal Parliament, though not close enough

Two days ago Stephen Harper appointed to more Conservatives to the Senate bringing the Conservative numbers up to 54 Senators.   This means they now have an absolute majority in the Senate.

Current Senate Standings

  • Conservatives - 54
  • Liberals - 46
  • PCs - 2
  • Ind - 2
  • Other - 1

The other is Raymond Lavigne, a Liberal Senator, is currently not allowed to sit in the Senate till his criminal trial is done.  This will resolve itself in early January with a decision from the court.

The next six months will only see one more mandatory retirement, though another Liberal.   There are currently 26 Senators over age 70, 6 women and 19 men.   The party affiliations are 14 Conservatives, 1 PC and 11 Liberals.  The tide in the retirements has changed to against the Conservatives.

The Conservatives now have a comfortable majority in the Senate and assuming there are no early resignations, it would take till spring 2013 for the Liberals to regain a majority if they were to form government in 2011.

Meanwhile over in the House of Commons, things are very slowly moving in the direction of the Conservatives.

Current House of Commons Standings
  • Conservatives - 143
  • Liberals - 77
  • BQ - 47
  • NDP - 36
  • Ind - 2
  • Vacant  - 3
Few things to keep in mind, the two independents are right of centre and could be encouraged to vote for the government and the speaker is currently a Liberal.   This means the current government versus opposition split is 143-145 to 159-161, the range being the independents.

With the three next by-elections, odds are that the Conservatives will win 2 and the Bloc 1 meaning the ranges will be 145-147 to 159-161.   This is still too large a gap  to govern as if one had a majority.   I do not think it is realistic to think the Conservatives could win Haute-Gasp├ęsie—La Mitis—Matane—Matap├ędia.

So will all this lead us to a federal election in early 2011?   An election in April would come after 30 months since the last election which is a moderate length since the last election but still sooner than I think is reasonable.   If Harper waits till the fall of 2011, this will mean a three year time frame between elections.

2011 also brings us the next census and from it will come the next redistribution of seats in the country.   Based on projections of population, there will need to be four new seats added, one each to BC and Ontario and two to Alberta.   I suspect all four will be more likely to be Conservative than any other party.  Adding these new seats that will come in 2012 means that the a current house of commons with no vacancies would be at 150 for the Conservatives to 160 for all the rest.

The addition of the seats means the Conservatives have a western block of seats that they can count on of 70 to 80 seats, a generation ago this was 50 seats.   In the same time period the Liberals have gone from a secure 70 seats in Quebec to 15.  Short of the disappearance of the Bloc, I can not see how the Liberals can manage to win a majority in an election in Canada at this time.  

With 312 seats you need 157 to have a majority.    If one factors out 50 seats in Quebec that are likely to be won by the Bloc, you need to win 60% of the rest of seats in the country for a majority.   There is not much of a change from now, but it is still a small incremental shift towards being able to get a majority while the Bloc exists.  
Post a Comment