Predictions of Liberal minority government nothing more than slick politics

First published: May 31, 2004

It seems silly. All the predictions about a minority government has people all lathered up. Reporters and columnists are obsessing; particularly after Liberal leadership rival Brian Tobin proffered his opinion about the possibility of a Liberal minority on CTV Questions Period Sunday.

This appears to be nothing more than a move by the Liberal campaign strategists to get out their supporters.
The backroom teams knew the NDP might scrape away some of the softer, left-leaning voters. NDP leader Jack Layton is proving to be more than a handful. To frighten Liberal supporters with the specter of a minority also makes them out to be underdogs. And voters love an underdog when it comes time to mark a ballot. It feels like they are saving the world, or something. (Just look at Calgary Flames).

This takes a huge amount of heat off Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was being set up as a target and frontrunner before the election. Now, he will have to battle back. This lowers expectations and, if he can hang on, will make him into a comeback kid.

We should not be fooled. An earlier test balloon was floated in Quebec. No doubt the polls inside the campaign showed a minor blip. And now we are being played.

It really bares a striking resemblance to what Layton did last week with his homeless comment. He is huge winner, despite what pundits and journalists are saying. He made a statement that plays well with a core part of his NDP constituency, who no doubt feel he was right on the mark. He didn’t care what the rest of Canada thought. He has also benefited with a massive amount of free publicity. And he had Liberals doing handsprings> He is the only candidate thus far who has hijacked the campaign agenda. Not bad.

A cynical person would say Canadians are being played. An optimist would say nobody is being fooled. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between.

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