So when do we start the official countdown?

Is it when David Emerson finally – finallykills off all those delicious rumours of being primed to parachute into some slightly-less-hostile riding by announcing that he won’t run again?  Okay, it’s not official yet — it’s still just sources saying — but as Wells pointed out earlier today, was there ever any real reason to believe that he was going to stick around?

I mean, we all know that he likes being an a-list, star calibre minister (which, to be fair, isn’t exactly all that hard to do in this particular cabinet) but elections are so messy and unpredictable, and there’s always the outside chance that he could’ve wound up on the wrong side of the House again, vowing to become Stephane Dion’s “worst nightmare” until the very second he comes rolling up outside Rideau Hall. (Okay, that really probably wasn’t going to happen, but still.) You have to feel sorry for his local riding association, though – or, really, any local Conservative riding association in the general vicinity of Vancouver that doesn’t yet have a candidate and, as such, would have been up for grabs had Emerson been willing but clearly not able to hold onto his existing seat – but at least now they know.

Then there’s Loyola Hearn, who was also widely expected to step aside, and who will apparently make his intentions clear as soon as the writ falls. Which frankly, seems a little last-minute; I’d think that the party would rather kick off the campaign with a parade of previously unannounced star candidates, not bittersweet farewells to outgoing cabinet ministers.

Honestly, though, you can’t really blame him – Newfoundland, it appears, will not be the friendliest place for a Conservative to campaign in the next election. But I’ll admit to being a little bit surprised that the Nova Scotia Tories are sufficiently unprepared as to require the long arm of central — which is ultimately attached to Doug Finley, I believe — to select candidates in four different ridings, including one willing to make the noble-but-surely-doomed attempt to steal back Cumberland-Colchester from Bill Casey.

I mean, isn’t this the same party that was running anti-Green Shift ads during the Liberals’ Atlantic Canada caucus last month, and confidentially (if anonymous source-ily) assuring reporters that the Permanent Tax on Everything would spark an east coast electoral trainwreck for hapless not-a-leader Stephane Dion?  Why else would a Liberal candidate in Prince Edward Island drop out of the race, ostensibly for “professional reasons”?

Luckily for the unimaginative amongst us, Ryan Sparrow knew why, and was only too happy to share his thoughts with the local Charlottetown press, which were then obligingly reported by the national press, since it was summer, after all – and really, there’s nothing we like more than a dose of Outremontesque Liberal disarray. (Unless it’s an unauthorized peek inside Stephen Harper’s very secret agenda book, that is. That one never gets old. )

And having apparently learned nothing, we seem to be writing the opposite story – this time, it’s the Conservative Party whose candidates are deserting the mothership just days before the election. Oh, and for balance, that the Liberals were forced to change the Green Shift based on – brace yourselves, this is bad – what they heard from the public over the summer, in order to make it more salable on the election trail, thus clearly demonstrating the desperation that has set in within the embattled Dion camp. That’ll take care of the speculation quota for the next — four days or so.

I’m sure there’s a lesson here somewhere, but I suppose I’ll have to wait for an unnamed senior party organizer – from either party, really; it doesn’t seem to matter –  to fill me in on exactly what it is.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.