skillful conservatives prepare to pull the pin

Successful politics often relies on two things: confusion and the fine art of deflection. Premier Stephen Harper and his team are proving to be…

Successful politics often relies on two things: confusion and the fine art of deflection.

Premier Stephen Harper and his team are proving to be adept at pulling these levers.

And that suggests a federal election isn’t far off.

In August, news broke that the Conservative Party had possibly monkeyed with election financing in at least 67 ridings during the 2006 vote.

There is some evidence it broke federal laws, spending more than it was allowed under election spending limits.

And some candidates may have collected rebates that election Canada ruled ineligible.

If true, that would amount to fraud.

The developing scandal could have grievously damaged the Conservative Party, which has sold itself as an honest broker.

But those problems are starting to lose momentum.

First, it is a complicated issue. And information about it is being choked off.

The Procedure and House Affairs Committee investigating the allegations has been hampered by procedural shenanigans by the government.

And, as the whole investigation was starting to catch the public’s attention, it was derailed by the inane burka-clad voter scandal, a marginal issue that would have involved only a handful of women in Quebec.

And, as that issue was beginning to run out of steam, Harper decided to comment on it from Australia.

That kept the veil issue roiling, and kept the election scandal off the public radar.

Monday’s byelection has shifted the focus onto speculation about Stephane Dion’s tenuous hold on the Liberal leadership.

It has also highlighted the Bloc Quebecois fall from grace.

All this, combined with the procedural delays the Conservative Party has orchestrated in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, has helped suppress the troubling election finance scheme.

Which just shows the Conservative leadership’s growing skill in shaping public opinion.

They are outplaying Stephane Dion’s Liberals and Jack Layton’s New Democrats.

The separatist Bloc is neutralized.

All this makes a majority Conservative government a possibility.

Unless the opposition parties lift their game in the next month, prepare for an election by mid November. (RM)