Tories optimistic about economy, election chances
Buoyed by a sunny economic forecast, the federal Conservatives say they'll be ready to fight their political foes if the opposition attempts to trigger an election this fall.
Still, any national campaign in the next four months seems increasingly unlikely, given the announcement last week from the Bank of Canada's Mark Carney that the country is out of recession.
While the Conservatives appeared to be on the brink of defeat throughout the winter and spring, Carney's predictions seem to have given Stephen Harper's minority government a much-needed boost.
Indeed, much of the Liberals' momentum in the final weeks of the spring session stemmed from their ability to pin the economic downturn on Tory mismanagement.
That momentum crested in June as the Liberals pushed the government to reform the Employment Insurance program.
But heading into two days of election training at an Ottawa hotel, followed by a caucus meeting on Wednesday, the Conservatives seemed upbeat.
"This declaration last week that the recession is over, certainly buoyed the Conservatives," said CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife on Monday.
While Fife said that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will likely begin to vote against the government in the fall session, the Conservatives have a strong defence strategy.
"They can argue, 'Look, the whole world is in recession ... we're one of the first countries that's having growth,'" Fife noted.
Fife added that the Conservatives will get a further boost from a summer away from Parliament, as Harper and his team make spending announcements and shore up support at summer parties and BBQs.
"The summer has always helped the Conservatives and their polling numbers," said Fife, who added that this week's meetings will still include election training, just in case.
Fife said the party will meet with national campaign director Doug Finley, Harper's right-hand man and the political strategist who has engineered the party's recent election victories.
Though some in the party believe that the Liberals will indeed try to topple them, others feel that the economic recovery may have deflated Ignatieff's ambitions for a quick contest.
"By and large, I would say things are pretty positive compared to what we might have been expected. We're not out of it yet, but positive signs for sure," Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn told The Canadian Press.
"There's an expectation that if we could be into an election, the earliest it could be is a year from now, in the fall of 2010. There's lots of people saying that."
Still, Minster of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt said gearing up for a political battle is always a good chance to step up your game.
"It's nice and it's going back to the basics, which is what matters. The voter is what matters, communicating with the voter, and making sure our constituents are served," said Raitt.
"It's good to go back to the school, I think you can always learn."
With files from The Canadian Press