Positioning for 2009 
Jay Currie, in writing about negative advertising and how the parties should approach the election:

"Harper has a harder decision. He is not going to win the next election but he may just win a few seats in Ontario and the Maritimes and, if he boxes smart, may be able to hold a few seats in BC. The temptation to take the high road and run for position five years down the road is huge. And, I suspect, the smart thing to do. Going negative is unlikely to help in this election and it might well hurt Harper with the right thinking pinkish high WASP Tories who have been delivered, slightly askance, by Peter McKay. For Harper the trick will be to look like a man who might, when Paul Martin shuffles off the stage, make a good centerist Prime Minister. For the moment he has time."

The only thing I would add to this is that I don't think Martin would have a lock on the next election should the Conservatives actually achieve what Jay suggests is possible.

A lot will depend on the BQ future and the 75 seats in Quebec as substantial growth in that province for the Conservatives will be very difficult in one election cycle. Ontario, on the other hand, would give the Conservatives many more seats in 2009 should a breakthrough (>10 seats) be made this election cycle and Harper performs decently throughout Martin's new mandate. By 2009, the Liberals will have governed Canada for 16 years.

A Conservative outcome, similar to what Mulroney received in 1988, of 50 seats in Ontario would be possible. If 64 seats (2000 election) were captured in the west and 12 seats in the Atlantic province it would give the party 126 seats - add a couple Quebec ridings and a possible minority government position.

I think the moves that Martin makes over the next four months should be viewed in this light - he doesn't need to worry about this election - he needs to position his party to stop Conservative momentum going into the second half of this decade.

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