I really did believe that the Liberals were not going to be so stupid as to put themselves into a no-win situation, but the ratcheting up of the Afghanistan rhetoric by Dion following the Manley Report leads us to no other conclusion than this:
We're going to the polls. Soon
Unless you see the Liberals split horribly over the issue - entirely possible - they will follow their leader into an election they cannot win because unlike Stephen Harper's 2005 gambit where his party was behind but with momentum, there is no reason to suggest that Dion will benefit from the numerous breaks required for an upset.
Instead, I believe that the Tories will gain seats. Maybe enough for a slim majority, but likely a dozen still short.
You'll see the Tories fall short of hoped for gains in Quebec (they'll pick up, but not as many as they would think), while surprising with stronger than anticipated pick ups in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
The talk post-election will be how surprising uncharacteristic the election was since the gov't gained support during the campaign while the opposition dropped, reversing the usual trend.
The Tories - filthy rich compared to the Liberals - will hardly break a sweat to spend the limit. The Liberals will simply add to their debt instead of the seat count. (And as an extra bonus, some believe the Liberals would really cook their own geese by immediately turfing Dion, sparking yet another costly leadership contest to further pile on the liabilities. Seriously, for political parties, we're talking epic levels of debt here.)
The NDP will break even on seats and dollars while spending their most ever.
The Bloc will lose a handful to the Tories. Duceppe won't leave fast enough. (In fact, his final week campaigning from somewhere tropical will be the first clue that he is checking out.)
The Greens will continue to hold zero seats in the House of Commons. Liz May will complain that the lack of a debate invite was the cause. This, while ignoring the fact that she made an idiotic choice running against Peter Mackay instead of running in London or Vancouver Island or ANYWHERE without major competition where she would have earned a "leader's pity seat".
And Harper will come back with a 140-145 seat minority and will run out another two years before we do it all again with the stakes being that it will be majority or bust for our Prime Minister.