Getting their duffs in a row

Will the Duffy Factor determine the date of the next federal election?

Will the Duffy factor determine the date of the next federal election?

Will the Duffy factor determine the date of the next federal election?

Carolyn Grant

The Mike Duffy saga will finally come to a conclusion next spring, as trial dates have been set for April 7 to May 12 and then July 1 to 19, 2015. The trial will be heard by a judge rather than a jury, as some speculate that finding 12 impartial jurors may be difficult.

Now here’s the thing. To those who love to follow, and speculate, on politics, yes it would be tough to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion — or at least have heard of — the trials and tribulations of Mike Duffy.

But I put to you that in the population at large, which may not appreciate politics for the blood sport it is, you would very likely find 12 people who don’t have any idea who Mike Duffy is. In fact I have just conducted a scientific poll in my own office.

Here was my method — “Hey, do you guys know who Mike Duffy is?” The reply? One no, and one “sort of”.

I carefully calculated the percentages and came up with the following conclusive statement.

Fifty per cent of those polled do not know who Mike Duffy is. Fifty per cent of those polled have some knowledge of him. Of course, the margin of error on this poll may be somewhat large, but statistics was not my best subject.

In any event, a trial of this magnitude in a year where Stephen Harper must put his party in front of the voters by the fall, is no small thing.

Even if Harper is not called to testify, and it is quite likely he may be able to find a valid reason to avoid taking the stand, it still could be a source of bad news for the Conservatives. Pundits speculate that Duffy may have some tricks up his sleeve. It is believed by some that Duffy, a former TV newsman and quite a showman, has not told all and is awaiting his day in court to drop a few more bombs.

The fixed election date is October 19, 2015. The government could call an earlier date, but with the trial date now set for spring, it appears unlikely.

Or is it?

A number of news sources reported this summer that the Conservatives had been quietly going about making sure their ducks … er candidates, were in a row, so that they would be prepared should an election be called in the spring. They were well ahead of the Liberals and NDP in doing so, although those parties too, were doing their best to get ridings organized.

But that was when it was thought there might be a surprise spring election. With the Duffy trial bound to consume the attention of political watchers, it is unlikely an election would be called during the course of the trial. But what about before? March? In Canada, that’s winter. Not the most popular choice, but not unprecedented.

It’s time for some election trivia, courtesy of the Parliament of Canada website.

Canadians have gone to the polls most often in the fall; 14 fall elections have been held since 1867, 12 elections have been held in summer, 10 in the spring and only five have been held in winter.

Now Prime Minister Harper may have some fond memories of winter elections. He became Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister in January of 2006, winning a minority. Still, a winter campaign is difficult. Travel is more difficult for campaigners, voters may have the winter blahs and just not get engaged. Getting voters to the polls can be difficult if a winter storm takes over election day in parts of the country. It’s not really anyone’s first choice. In fact, the 2006 election only occurred in January because a motion of non-confidence brought down Paul Martin’s Liberal government and an election had to be called.

So most are betting that October 19 will be the date. Let the chips, and whatever else Duffy decides to drop during the trial, fall where they may.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin