And the winner is ….

With the election a week away, it’s a tough call. No one predicted the rise and rise of Jack Layton. The last time I saw this phenomenon was during the 1972 election when I was press secretary to Robert L. Stanfield, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, as it was then called. As soon as the election was under way, and we began travelling, surprise issues began bubbling up from the street. There was an unhappiness across the country that almost cost Pierre Trudeau his job as prime minister. Trudeau ran a campaign that has similarities to Stephen Harper’s current endeavour. “The Land is Strong,” declared the Liberal slogan. The words haven’t appeared this time around, but the sentiments of the government are similar.

So what happens May 2? If the NDP win 50 seats, their best result ever, the Liberals slide to 70, and the Bloc drops to 38, Harper falls short of a majority with 149 seats as Helena “This Individual” Guergis wins her riding as an independent. Harper meets the house and gets the support of the Bloc who don’t want another election right away because they know they’ll be wiped out and have to go find real jobs – while collecting their fat federalist pensions.

If the NDP wins more than 50 seats, anything could combust. One outcome, after a session or two with the Governor-General, is a combination of opposition parties creating a coalition. Or, with left-leaning voters split between Liberals and NDP in a way that helps Conservative candidates, Harper could win a majority. Whatever the result, for an election that began by looking like it would yield more of the same, this contest has become a fireworks display with roman candles and rockets in all directions. Hurrah for Democracy. Canada certainly isn’t Yemen or Syria or Egypt, but we’re having our very own Rite of Spring.

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