Why is Martin doing so much? 
After reading John Ibbitson's column in the Globe today I have to say I am impressed with the Federal government spending freeze and review. Ibbitson gives five questions that the program reviewers have to ask:

What is the evidence that the initiative is achieving the stated policy objectives?

Is there a legitimate and necessary role for government in this program area or activity?

What activities or programs should or could be transferred in whole or in part to the private/voluntary sector?

Does the program exploit all options for achieving lower delivery costs through intelligent use of technology, public-private partnership, third-party delivery mechanisms, and non-spending instruments?

Is the current role of the federal government appropriate, or is the program a candidate for realignment with the provinces?

What the net outcome of these reviews remains to be seen. It is certainly bold and is causing some concern here in Ottawa. (With the tech employment front still hurting, the government hiring kept things balanced - with the hiring freeze there could be some tough times.)

The question is: Why is Martin doing so much now? Most people agree that if he kept things as is in the run-up to the next election he will handily receive another majority from the voters.

The things he has done in the past week seem to point to a courting of more "rightish" voters. Getting Brison, praising the capture of Hussein and the American military, $3 billion Sea King contract, and government spending review (which Ibbitson suggests could delay meeting the Kyoto targets) and hiring freeze.

The one thing I noticed after playing around with the election numbers and potential vote changes is that the Liberals will benefit more from getting right wing voters than those on the left. Big grounds can be made in the West, their strength would hold in Ontario and in Quebec there were many very close ridings that would tip to the Liberals if they can attract some of the old PCs that voted Bloq in 2000.

If he didn't think these initiatives would help in the short term leading up to an election, why would he do them now? Why wouldn't he wait until after the election?

They are calculated moves. Maybe the Liberals are worried as Bourque suggests.

Could Bernard Lord be the man that can build a coalition and deliver the 80%+ PC voters to the Conservative Party and maintain the Western support of the Alliance? Could Jack Layton and the NDP improve their seat count in urban centres at the Liberals expense.

A Liberal minority government is possible.

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