Skip the election tea leaves and grab a summer cocktail

It is once again time to play official Ottawa’s favourite game show: wild-ass nonsensical election speculation!

You’ll forgive me for not being excited.

The volumes of ink (digital and otherwise) spilled on prognostications of one sort or another during a minority government could drown a horse. And with constant cuts to most media outlets, the appeal of easy-to-write, non-researched speculation pieces is easy to understand.

But let’s say it together to be clear: when it comes to actual secrets in Ottawa – like the timing of an election – anyone who knows doesn’t talk and anyone who talks doesn’t know.”

So with that caveat in place and the additional disclosure that I firmly believe no one in PMO gives a furry rat’s ass what I think, let me at least offer the Natural Governing Party some advice: chill the !@#% out.

I can all but guarantee that the water cooler talk in the Building Formerly Known as Langevin™ this morning is that now is the time to go – now, now, now! Well, June anyway.

Why? Well, at least three reasonable reasons come to mind.

First, vaccines are pouring into the country. By late May/early June almost anyone who wants a vaccine jab will be able to get one – months ahead of the PM’s promise of September and years ahead of the doom and gloom spread by the opposition mere weeks ago.

While the initial communications set the PM up for criticism in January/February, the progress has been swift, huge and worthy of praise. Betting that Canadians are appreciative would make perfect sense to Liberal strategists.

Second, Erin O’Toole. If there is anything that Liberals (and likely Canadians at large) will take from this past weekend’s Conservative Party convention, the party has not changed and Erin O’Toole is unable to change it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being leader of the Conservative Party is a shitty job. In over 150 years of Canada, only four men have been able to make that coalition work in a meaningful way: Macdonald, Dief, Mulroney and Harper.

Scheer was clearly a twit. O’Toole – who I know, like and had much higher hopes for – is not, despite his party’s best efforts to make him look like one (really guys? You’re not sure about climate change in 2021??).

But Liberals would do well to remember that even with Scheer they were barely able to eek out a minority government. Barely.

I still maintain O’Toole will be a much better campaigner and an easier sell in the 905 and similar ridings. Liberals ought not to take this lightly.

The third reason Liberals will be keen to go is the economy. It is in full recovery. The budget will undoubtedly kick this into hyperdrive with billions in stimulus focused on “getting Canada working” or some such.

While the right thing to do, this is not without risk. The government is going to pick industries to focus on, means of distributing money and give the opposition specific targets to shoot at – all long before the money actually hits people’s wallets.

So I get it – things look good. And for several months they looked pretty damn bleak.

But here’s the counterpoint: things are actually going to get better.

When vaccinations get done in May/June, this summer is going to be unmitigated orgy of relief and rejoicing. People will be traveling, sunning themselves on beaches and going to cottages. They will be elated to see family and loved ones.

Liberals will be able to claim significant credit for this summer of love and remind Canadians of the cynicism and complaints of the opposition.

Moreover, Erin O’Toole’s bludgeoning this weekend on climate – an inevitably defining issue of this campaign – is not going to improve his standing with Canadians, Conservatives or the punditry. Giving him the summer to further immolate is unlikely to harm the Liberals chances.

Finally, people are pissed off right now. Like… furious. Full of rage about the last year of pandemic. While they aren’t specifically mad with anyone in particular, I believe there is an excellent chance lots of folks will take advantage of an opportunity to blame the first figure of authority in their line of fire – especially if they don’t get a couple months to vent and chill.

Were I the Prime Minister, I would be very, very, very concerned about being the cast as the face of the pandemic and punished accordingly.

Also, Harrington Lake is lovely in July. After the year we’ve all had, for god’s sake go enjoy it.