At the end of a fairly even-handed assessment of Harper's first year, Deirdre McMurdy drops this little bit of insider wisdom:
It's an open secret Harper would like an election in the next six months, but he needs the other political parties to set it up for him.
This seems plausible for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the glory days of the CPC government as a minority government are gone. With a new leader in place, the Libs won't be nearly as easy to splinter. And this isn't due in particular to any magical qualities of S. Dion either; its just a function of having a body in the leadership position. Further, with three parties to the Left of them in a minority situation, what kind of agenda could the Tories get through Parliament? Sissy stuff: green plans, motherhood initiatives. Whereas the Tories are Tories and want tax cuts, want to shovel wealth up the social scale. Its no fun to rule in a minority parliament when your agenda is at odds with opposition parties representing a good 70% of the Canadian electorate. So right now the game is all about converting this minority into a majority.
And that has got to happen soon if its to happen at all. The bloom is off the rose. Nothing the Tories have thrown at Dion (he's a Frenchy out to punish the oil-patch) has stuck yet, and Canadians are finding that, beyond being minimally competent, the Harper government has very little to recommend it policy-wise. Furthermore, wait another year and there will be Quebeckers getting shot at in Afghanistan and the "fiscal imbalance" talks will have ended in tears.
If this line of reasoning is actually what's going through the mind of the CPC braintrust, look for a straight-arm from Harper at budget time, and see if Layton is desperate enough to prop up the Tory government for peanuts.