Election timing linked to war
Description: The fighting conditions in Afghanistan could influence the timing of Canada’s next federal election, according to a UBC political science professor.
Date: 17 January 2007
Author: Carlito Pablo
Source: The Georgia Straight
The fighting conditions in Afghanistan could influence the timing of Canada’s next federal election, according to a UBC political science professor.
Michael Byers, academic director of UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues, told the Georgia Straight that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Conservative government were to call an election this winter instead of next spring.
”At the moment, Afghanistan is not a big issue because Canadian soldiers are not dying,“ he said. ”When snow melts in the mountain[s] and the spring harvest has happened...things will become much more dangerous again.“
Canada has not suffered any casualties since a November 27, 2006, suicide bombing killed two members of the Royal Canadian Regiment operating in southern Afghanistan. The attack brought the total number of Canadian soldiers killed since 2002 to 44.
Most of Canada’s casualties—36—were sustained between the months of March and November last year. Citing the experience of the British during the 19th century and the Soviets in the 1980s, Byers said that fighting in Afghanistan declines in the winter and picks up again not only in the spring but also in the fall. He added that the same pattern has been noted since 2001, after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.
”I’m sure that [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is aware of it as well,“ he said. ”It’s possible that this will be one of the considerations that factors into his decision on when he wants an election.“
Byers said that if Harper ”waits with the election until, let’s say, May, he is taking the risk that we could have literally dozens of casualties in the heat of an election campaign, which would be contrary to his political interests“.
”There are many considerations that the prime minister has about an election date, but I would expect that the fighting conditions in Afghanistan would be one of those,“ he said. ”If that were the only reason, the only factor, it would point to an earlier election.“
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