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A BCer in Toronto: Confusing Canadians about coalitions to score political points

We hear a lot about coalitions these days, and it seems clear there’s a bit of confusion out there about what it means and just what the post-election options for cooperation are – confusion likely deliberately spread by the NDP. I was canvassing in Scarborough the other day. It’s a riding that was Liberal for . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: Confusing Canadians about coalitions to score political points

A BCer in Ottawa: Confusing Canadians about coalitions to score political points

We hear a lot about coalitions these days, and it seems clear there’s a bit of confusion out there about what it means and just what the post-election options for cooperation are – confusion likely deliberately spread by the NDP.
I was canvassing in Scarborough the other day. It’s a riding that was Liberal for many years, until 2011 when the NDP took enough Liberal vote for the Conservatives to win with little growth in vote. And they’re trying hard for a repeat. I knocked on the door of a woman who told me she had voted Liberal all her life and really likes Justin Trudeau, but she’s thinking of voting NDP for the first time. Why? Well, she wants to get rid of Stephen Harper, and the NDP was at her door recently and told her that Trudeau doesn’t want a coalition to defeat Harper – he’d rather see Harper stay.
It’s an example of the NDP strategy across the country – try to solidify the anti-Harper vote (even in ridings where it would likely just help elect Conservatives) behind them by painting the Liberals as unwilling to cooperate to defeat Harper, or worse, to even prop him up instead of supporting the NDP. It’s a pretty disingenuous, not to mention dishonest, approach to take, but it may prove effective.

Like any good strategy, there’s at least a modicum of truth: yes, Trudeau has said no to a coalition. Consistently so, in fact. Unlike the NDP; Tom Mulcair’s position has flip-flopped too many times to count, usually tied to their position on the polls.

“N.O. The no is categorical, absolute, irrefutable and non-negotiable. It’s no. End of story. Full stop.”

Now that the polls show he could form a minority government that would need support from someone, his tune has changed. If you notice though, the word the NDP keeps using, and what Trudeau actually said no to, is coalition. And that’s the operative word.
What is a coalition? A governing coalition is a joint governing agreement where the two parties sit on the government side, and share cabinet ministers and a legislative agenda. Think the Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats in the last UK parliament. We’ve never had a governing coalition in Canada before, and the word never really came up before 2011 when the Liberals and the NDP briefly tried to form one.

We may not have had coalition governments, but we’ve had minority governments. Many of them long lasting and extremely productive. Lester Pearson’s Liberal minorities brought us many of the progressive social policies Canadians cherish today. All without a coalition. David Peterson’s Ontario Liberal minority provides a great example. The NDP agreed to support a Liberal government for two years, in exchange for action on several specific NDP legislative priorities. The NDP didn’t sit with the government, and was free to vote as it wished on bills that weren’t matters of confidence.


Cooperation. That’s the word you don’t hear the NDP using today. Because Trudeau hasn’t said no to cooperation. That door is very much open, and so it should be. Should the NDP be in the position to form a minority government (which is frankly rather presumptuous at the moment) I could certainly see the Liberals agreeing to support a budget and throne speech in exchange for the inclusion and support of a number of key Liberal policy priorities. It would need to be negotiated, but the door is very much open.

And that is what the woman whose door I knocked on in Scarborough wanted: the door open to cooperation to defeat the Harper Conservatives. The NDP tried to confuse her with talk of coalitions; she was relieved to learn cooperation was definitely not off the table and she could still vote her conscience, instead of being bullied into a strategic vote that, in her riding, would not be very strategic at all.

A poll today, from a notoriously unreliable pollster, says most Canadians favour a Liberal/NDP coalition. I don’t doubt the respondents said that, but I do doubt the difference was explained to them between coalition and cooperation. I believe a majority of Canadians want to see progressives cooperate to defeat Harper; I don’t think they care which of the “c” words gets us there.


Why no to a coalition?

Why do Liberals oppose a coalition? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I believe being the junior partner in a governing coalition with the NDP would be the death of the Liberal Party. The right flank of the party would flee in revulsion, into the hands of the Conservatives. And the other half of the party would come to the conclusion that they may as well just join the NDP since we’re in bed with them anyways. And frankly, while both the NDP and the Conservatives want to see the Liberals disappear and are working towards that end, the Conservatives certainly believe the math of a two-party state (putting aside the Greens and BQ for a moment) favours them. And I tend to agree.

Thankfully though, despite the misinformation the NDP is trying to spread, coalition is not the only option. Liberals are open to cooperating with them, even if they seem very determined to make it hard to do so.

. . . → Read More: A BCer in Ottawa: Confusing Canadians about coalitions to score political points

Bill Longstaff: Germany’s Grand Coalition—a lesson for Canada?

Germany now has a government that represents a solid majority of the German people. With three-quarters of Social Democrat party members voting to join a coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the chancellor and her cabinet will now be sworn in.

In September’s national election, the Christian Democrats got 41.5 per cent of the vote . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Germany’s Grand Coalition—a lesson for Canada?

Alberta Diary: Former Aussie PM’s unintended message to Canadian progressives: coalitions work!

Former Australian PM John Howard at the Manning Centre’s Ottawa gabfest Sunday. Below: Tom Flanagan pictured on a button worn by many at Preston Manning’s “big-tent” conservative revival meeting, “Calgary School” professor Rainer Knopff seen in passing sporting his Flanagan button.

OTTAWA

Was former Australian PM John Howard sending Canadian conservatives a coded . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Former Aussie PM’s unintended message to Canadian progressives: coalitions work!

The Canadian Progressive: Andrea Horwath: “We’re not interested in a coalition government”

Earlier this week, someone suggested that, if chosen to succeed Dalton McGuinty as Ontario premier next weekend, Liberal leadership front-runner Kathleen Wynne would invite the Ontario New Democrats to form a coalition government. NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, has dismissed the idea. In a letter recently mailed to supporters, she said the coalition government talk is . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Andrea Horwath: “We’re not interested in a coalition government”

THE FIFTH COLUMN: We Must Stop Stephen Harper and the 20% from Destroying Canada

There has been lots of discussion about how Stephen Harper’s majority only represents 40% of voters because of the way our electoral system works. But, in reality, his agenda has much fewer supporters.

We must remember that the Conservative Party is a coalition. It is not a coalition in the sense that the proposed Liberal-NDP . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: We Must Stop Stephen Harper and the 20% from Destroying Canada

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Let us make one thing perfectly clear

Ontario is parliamentary democracy, albeit within it’s own constitutional jurisdiction. As such it is the Ontario legislature that determines who will be in the government and form the Cabinet. As in all parliamentary democracies a government is legiti… . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: Let us make one thing perfectly clear

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Realigning Canada’s Political Spectrum

Canadians have traditionally held social democratic values while supporting centrist political parties. Canadians support universal single payer public health insurance, public pensions and a social safety net, all of which, at the federal level, have … . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: Realigning Canada’s Political Spectrum

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber Pushing for Two Party System

It started with Ignatieff joining Harper’s anti-coalition bandwagon, the common message being that the big boys don’t share power with the little guys and it’s extended to the push for a debate between just Harper and Ignatieff because they think that … . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber Pushing for Two Party System

THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Coalition is Dead – Someone Tell Stephen Harper

The idea of a coalition government is dead for the simple reason that it is not in Michael Ignatieff’s political interest to enter into a coalition that would require him to share power. Although it is in his political interest not to contradict Stephe… . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Coalition is Dead – Someone Tell Stephen Harper

Crazy Bitches R Us: Too funny – Who really had a hidden agenda on Coalition – Stephen Harper.

1) Coalition governments are legit. in Canada, we’ve had them before and it’s a political reality in most other parliamentary democracies.2) Coalition governments offer the best option for stability in our post 1993 5 party system.3) Parties who form governments with less than 50 percent of the popular vote do not have the moral authority . . . → Read More: Crazy Bitches R Us: Too funny – Who really had a hidden agenda on Coalition – Stephen Harper.

Crazy Bitches R Us: Too funny – Who really had a hidden agenda on Coalition – Stephen Harper.

1) Coalition governments are legit. in Canada, we’ve had them before and it’s a political reality in most other parliamentary democracies.2) Coalition governments offer the best option for stability in our post 1993 5 party system.3) Parties who form g… . . . → Read More: Crazy Bitches R Us: Too funny – Who really had a hidden agenda on Coalition – Stephen Harper.

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Democracy Election

While thousands worldwide sacrifice their lives for the right to free elections Canadians complain about having one.That is not to say there are no reasons for some Canadians not to want an election. Certainly if you support the Reformatories you have … . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: Democracy Election

Thus Prate the Pundit » Social Critique: Unravelling Dion’s Political Strategy

Though my attention is tuned to our federal election, this post doesn’t continue the IP political issues I wrote detailing a stance against certain sorts of “intellectual property” regulation (NDP seems to address it best, though Dion provided a reasonable response to my letter). I’ll go on a tangent today: Stéphane Dion’s campaign strategy is . . . → Read More: Thus Prate the Pundit » Social Critique: Unravelling Dion’s Political Strategy