I missed the budget last night as Synn Studios was hosting Business After 5 for the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. It wasn't until Chamber President Lloyd Longfield said that his Blackberry was ringing off the hook with interview requests from media, local and not-local, that I remembered the straw that was supposedly going to break the government's back was going to come down yesterday.
The Globe and Mail did a pretty good job of breaking down the highlights, but overall the budget aired on the side of conservative. The assumption that there would be enough so-called red meat for the NDP to endorse the budget, and save us all from an election, was ruined when Jack Layton told reporters that the budget missed on his party's four conditions for endorsement: elimination of the federal sales tax on home-heating fuel; measures to greatly increase the number of doctors; a big boost in pensions for poor seniors; and restoration of the home eco-energy retrofit program.
The thing of it is, what is an election going to get us? The national polls show cross-country support per party is largely unchanged. The only real news is in the west where Conservative support is down seven points, while NDP support is up nine points. Despite the scandals, the censures, the rapidly inflating price for fighter planes and the ongoing crumminess of the economy, Stephen Harper's support seems pretty solid, while ambivalence about the Liberals and the NDP continues.
As for the numbers themselves, and article from Monday's Globe breaks it down as 39 per cent for the Conservatives, 28 per cent for the Liberals, and 20 per cent for the NDP. Polls before the 2008 election, put the Conservatives at between 34 and 37 per cent support, while the Liberals were as low as 23 and as high as 30. The result was a second minority, and if the election were held today, then chances are that the result would be minority government number three.
The situation looks grim for all party leaders; Michael Ignatieff is still fighting the charisma gap, Jack Layton tends to take one step forward then two steps back in terms of seats every election, Giles Duceppe has no power ambitions, and Stephen Harper has to deliver a majority government this time out, or his party's going to have to make some managerial changes in order to ensure that they get one next time. Except... is there a clear sucessor to the man that wants the Government of Canada to go by the more official name "The Harper Government?"
So what's going to happen? Election this May. Everyone wants it, except anyone you ask.