It's been argued from this corner on something approximating a weekly basis that the Liberals would be nuts to force an early election - that every day that passes can only help when it comes to building something resembling a national campaign machine. But maybe, just maybe, bringing down the government over its attempt to force immigration reforms through the Commons wouldn't be the dumbest idea in the world.
For argument's sake, here's why:
1.) Every day isn't helping when it comes to building a national campaign organization. There, I said it. This doesn't mean that time still shouldn't be on the Liberals' side, since they're the ones who have to play catch-up against a Conservative party that's about as election-ready as it's going to get. But the Liberals are so busy fighting with each other that they're making little if any progress in most provinces, and seem to actually be regressing in Quebec. Barring a dramatic shift in strategy, there's not much reason to believe things are suddenly going to get much better.
2.) If they're going to lose, they might as well get it over with. Stephane Dion's fate has been pretty cruel, since the minority parliament and impatience from within Liberal ranks meant he lacked the chance that most leaders have to grow into the job. But the fact is, it's increasingly difficult to see the Liberals returning to their former heights with him in their top job. For reasons mentioned earlier in the week, it's totally impractical to replace him before an election. But there are only two realistic outcomes from an election - either Dion somehow finds himself and pulls off a win, or he loses and is replaced with someone else. Either scenario is better for the party than the current one.
3.) They've finally stumbled onto a good issue. The Tories' proposed reforms don't mean that they're anti-immigrant. But some people think they do, and quite a few more could be convinced. Combined with some other recent unpleasantness, this issue is enough to reinforce lingering discomfort with the Tories - not enough to cost them the election, probably, but quite possibly enough to deny them a majority and spare the Liberals a complete collapse. That won't be the case if the Liberals effectively endorse the reforms by voting for them to stave off an election.
4.) It's the right thing to do. Much more troubling than the actual content of the immigration reforms is the manner in which they're being implemented. By sliding them in the back door through completely unrelated budget legislation, the Tories are going the omnibus route popular south of the border - an unsettling precedent for those who value transparency in government and who believe policy should be fully debated in a public forum before being passed into law. This is not something that could be easily explained on the campaign trail, and the Liberals shouldn't spend much time trying to do so. But if they're looking for a matter of principle on which to justify to themselves a non-confidence vote, this is as good as any other.
5.) Keep the government alive any longer, and John Ivison is going to be forced to find a way to top today's comparison to Nazi-fetishizing Formula One bosses. And nobody needs to see that.
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