The Conservative Coalition

Jack and Gilles went up the Hill to carry Harper’s water…

Deux Partis-Un Regard

So, the CBC is reporting that the Bloc Québécois has indicated it will support the government’s budget motion on Friday, thereby averting a federal election call and effectively propping up the Conservatives at least until next month. Signals from the NDP suggest they’re likewise expected to vote with the government’s pending financial ways-and-means motion.

In the game of political brinksmanship currently being played out, kudos to Michael Ignatieff for insightfully reading the landscape and correctly wagering that the dreaded “separatists” and “socialists” would predictably buckle at this time, thereby allowing the Liberals to now freely oppose the government without incurring the consequence of an unpopular election.

Well played indeed!

Update: Heh.

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47 Comments

Filed under 2009 Election, Michael Ignatieff, STEPHEN HARPER Govrnment of Canada

47 responses to “The Conservative Coalition

  1. Martin

    I agree- if this was his intended outcome, it was a very good one for the Liberals. Avoiding the humiliation Dion inflicted, while still not having an election. Not bad for the Conservatives, either, though. They managed to appear fairly steady through this, although it will be a little hard for them to continue with the “coalition” bogeyman, as they are propped up by the Bloc and dippers.

    Worst for Layton, who had been able to oppose the Conservatives under cover from the Libs. I wonder how this plays to Duceppe’s constituency in Quebec?

    Minority parliament: might not be as productive, but it’s a lot more fun.

  2. Duceppe has a certain immunity in this regard with his base because he has no aspirations to power or ideological axe to grind and makes it entirely clear that he will do whatever pragmatically needed to get the most concessions and benefits for his Quebec constituency. The BQ is all about the bottom line for Quebec — if other Canadians happen to benefit from their policy positions, that’s incidental.

    Layton is in a much worse position as far as this goes. He’ll now be shown for the opportunistic sell-out and political trimmer that he is.

  3. Navvy

    But isn’t Harper himself itching to go? The Iggy ads are back up and running and the talking points have been passed out… is there anything he can do to force the socialists and seperatists to drop out of the new coalition with the cons?

    Should be interesting to watch the numbers now. Does Iggy recover lost ground as the prospect of an election during the tail-end of the recession goes away, or do Harper’s numbers keep improving with the economy?

  4. take_dead_aim

    I wonder if there aren’t Dippers questioning whether they want to go into another election with Jack. He has ended up going through this looking like a complete ass, and i don’t see how he can rebound support for his party now. To vote no consistently for a full year but change his mind NOW? Yeowza.

    Despite the partisan Liberal posts on here (no less annoying to read than conservative partisan posts), i doubt that the Liberals expected to win the election they were forcing. It was clear that if they wanted to form government, at some point in time they needed to stop supporting the Conservatives, even if it meant losing seats and risking a potential (albeit unlikely) conservative majority.

    If they’re smart, they’ll try and defeat this government over something tangible now, because the ‘we can do better’ campaign had all the intrigue and interest of a Grade 6 class president campaign.

    I mean really? We’ll forge a better relationship with China and India, and restore aid to Africa? Really?

  5. horatio dunesbury

    Not that I am surprised that this will be a Liberal talking point, but any suggestion that there is a Conservative-NDP-Bloc coalition will be laughed out by anybody who’s not a rabid Liberal partisan.

    First of all, all 3 parties would vehemently deny a coalition. Secondly, when the Liberals propped up the conservatives all those other times, was that because there was a Conservative-Liberal coalition? I dont think even the Liberals would suggest that.

    Then there is no formal agreement, and there are no members from the Bloc or the NDP in the executive branch, as there would have been in the Dion-Duceppe-Layton coalition of last year.

    Also, on the idea that this was really the Liberal plan all along, well that’s hilarious. If it was, kudos to Iggy, but that would entail that Iggy also expects to lose his motion of non-confidence which he promised to introduce on his opposition day. Its one thing for the NDP and Bloc to vote with the government on a benign ways and means motion, but on an explicit motion of confidence? That’s a whole other story.

  6. “Layton is in a much worse position as far as this goes. He’ll now be shown for the opportunistic sell-out and political trimmer that he is.”

    Right. And Iggy isn’t that? The problem with politics today is that just about everyone is that. And the problem is you don’t seem to win without it, either.

    So you laud Iggy for his great gamesmanship then then attack Layton for essentially utilizing the same strategies–ie play to win. This is why this country’s governance is so fucked up. Thanks so much, guys.

  7. Ti-Guy

    But isn’t Harper himself itching to go? The Iggy ads are back up and running and the talking points have been passed out…

    The Harpies do that every time there’s a hint of an election. It’s a way of manipulating public opinion, along with an avalanche of ten percenters.

    It’s so predictable I’m sure the whole thing is automated (and running on a server in Bangalore); press one key and the whole thing is set in motion.

  8. Navvy

    Settle down Ryan. The dippers are supposed to be as pure as snow. With a little bit of yellow showing up, why would their supporters continue to vote for them?

    The cons and libs are governing parties, the NDP is not, there’s a huge difference.

  9. Ti-Guy

    Not that I am surprised that this will be a Liberal talking point, but any suggestion that there is a Conservative-NDP-Bloc coalition will be laughed out by anybody who’s not a rabid Liberal partisan.</i.

    Tell me something, Horatio: Why has an entire generation learned that dismissive haughtiness and/or forced mockery is a welcome contribution to any discussion?

    If you don't care and aren't interested, don't worry about it. Go put something on your Facebook page or text someone or something.

  10. horatio dunesbury

    Hey Ti-Guy, Im not sure what dismissive haughtiness is, but Im not actually trying to mock anybody.

    Im just bringing up the point that the NDP and Bloc voting for the ways and means motion does not equal a coalition. I would think its obvious but I understand that the Liberals need a talking point to deflect attention from their mistakes of December 2008.

    Im also bringing up the point that if Iggy really did not want an election (which would make sense considering the polls), what’s he going to do about his own non-confidence motion? My guess is that the Bloc and NDP cant rationalize their way around that one.

  11. CWTF

    The BQ is all about the bottom line for Quebec — if other Canadians happen to benefit from their policy positions, that’s incidental.
    Exactly.

    So I’m wondering how that “on probation” is working for Iggy… It’s a bitch when other’s don’t want to play with him… a little like he did to the coalition…

    Iggy seems rather impotent… After a summer of nothing from him, now he wants an election… So why does he want an election? He still has not articulated why he is different from Harper. And, from what I have read so far, there is very little difference.

    The BQ maybe propping up the Connies, but only inadvertently so – they support the budget motion.

    Iggy wanted to vote against it no matter what – seems rather hypocritical of him.

    If anything, I am more cynical at the present political landscape.

  12. horatio dunesbury —Do you honestly think that I’m a “rabid Liberal partisan”?

    The title of the post was meant to be sarcastic and provocative. Don’t take it too literally. Of course it’s not a formal coalition, just the present alignment of interests resulting from the shifty political manoeuvrings of our self-serving federal parties.

    p.s. Great name — makes me think of something from Michael Moorcock.

  13. horatio dunesbury

    Redtory:

    No I dont think that you’re a rabid partisan. And if your title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek then I have nothing to add, but its not the first time I see this point made on Liberal blogs.

    I do think however there’s a good discussion to be had on whether Iggy will table a non-confidence motion and whether the NDP or Bloc will vote for it.

    Thanks for the compliments on the name – I was inspired by Theodore Dalrymple (which is an even cooler).

  14. I think its a hilarious coincidence that the Conservative gov’t is propped up by ‘socialists’ and ‘separatists’. And, why DID the NDP change their position so suddenly if not for a deal with the Conservatives? Perhaps there is a deal, on EI; not much of a deal, but how much is enough/not enough to justify the change in attitude?

    I really think the NDP are avoiding an election right now; not sure about the BQ. I don’t really think the Conservatives made any deals. But its juicy, entertaining (though baseless) speculation.

    I still haven’t changed my expectation, though, that Mr. Harper will introduce some sort of poison into one of the motions to trigger his own defeat in an attempt to re-create the coalition moments of last fall, giving the Conservatives the bump in the polls they need to get to a majority. I don’t think they’d get a majority, though (due to the distribution of the popular vote, etc.).

    I think over time Canadians may warm up to some coalitions, perhaps not others. I wonder how people would respond to a direct choice between a) a coalition with the stability of a majority (not just any coalition, mind you), and b) an unstable minority with no coalition. Could election fatigue mitigate coalition fear?

  15. Ti-Guy

    Im just bringing up the point that the NDP and Bloc voting for the ways and means motion does not equal a coalition. I would think its obvious but I understand that the Liberals need a talking point to deflect attention from their mistakes of December 2008.

    It’s not the “coalition” that’s the core essence of the talking point. It’s throwing it in Harper’s face that he recently considered some parliamentarians to be beneath contempt. The ones he now has to rely on.

    This is politics and not anything particularly rational, remember.

  16. HD — I deliberately try to avoid reading partisan Liberal blogs as a general rule so that I don’t end up simply echoing their sentiments. If what I post on this blog happens to align with their viewpoints from time to time, then so be it. In this instance, I just can’t help but be amused by the Harper Conservatives being propped up by two parties that they have routinely demonized in the past.

    As for whether Iggy will table a non-confidence motion, I suspect not at this time as that would fritter away the capital he now has to freely attack the Conservative government while distancing himself and the LPC from the other two opposition parties.

    Regarding the name, as Anthony Daniels said, it’s one “that sound[s] suitably dyspeptic, that of a gouty old man looking out of the window of his London club, port in hand, lamenting the degenerating state of the world.”

  17. horatio dunesbury

    Ti-Guy:

    It’s throwing it in Harper’s face that he recently considered some parliamentarians to be beneath contempt. The ones he now has to rely on.

    That’s the talking point then, that Harper considered parliamentarians to be beneath contempt. Its a fair point to make I guess, but I dont see it as having any kind of impact because Harper managed to make it look as if he wasnt seeking the Bloc or the NDP’s support. In fact he went out of his way to say there was nothing to gain from courting Layton.

    And your point about politics is well taken.

    RedTory:

    I have to agree that Iggy should not table a non-confidence motion, although he will be pressured by the media to do so when his opposition day comes. Interesting times ahead.

    Good description of the name.

  18. Ti-Guy

    I do think however there’s a good discussion to be had on whether Iggy will table a non-confidence motion and whether the NDP or Bloc will vote for it.

    Why? Will all that speculation make anyone more informed, educated or entertained?

    Not bloody likely.

    If I were a benign dictator I’d forbid anyone to talk about anything other than what can be determined from examining documented evidence (and being benign, I’d also insist on a lot more transparency both from the government and the media).

    We spend so much time baselessly speculating and squabbling that no one ever gets around to actually paying attention to what these people are doing.

  19. TRN — If Harper does introduce a “poison pill” then he will incur blame for the election that most people have indicated they don’t want or need.

    So again, Ignatieff has quite neatly out-maneuvered Harper by putting the onus firmly back on him (where it properly belongs, I might add) to make his minority government work without provocatively dropping legislative IEDs all over the place that might might possibly trigger a sudden election.

    Rather brilliant…

  20. There’s a lot to be said for “benevolent dictatorship” and “enlightened monarchy” as systems of government, were it not or the inherent problems of human frailty and corruption…

  21. horatio dunesbury

    Why? Will all that speculation make anyone more informed, educated or entertained?

    I dont know, it would entertain me. And because it’s a political question of interest and this is a political blog and that’s what commenters on political blogs do.

    Ignatieff said he would table a non-confidence motion. But now it seems like it would be pretty damn risky to do so, so its an interesting political question. Im personally looking forward to that discussion, but feel free to not participate in it.

    Im looking forward to living in Ti-Guyena.

  22. Ti-Guy

    Its a fair point to make I guess, but I dont see it as having any kind of impact because Harper managed to make it look as if he wasnt seeking the Bloc or the NDP’s support.

    Well, that might be advantageous to Conservatives but why should citizens think that’s important necessarily?

    You might not be familiar with my well-documented and tedious complaints that we talk too often about politics and governance as if we ourselves are politicians, whose goals are very often diametrically opposed to those of the people they represent. Even in multi-partisan discussions, people variously assume the personae of politicians from parties they don’t even support and discuss the logic and reason of particular events entirely within that closed system, which, I repeat, doesn’t necessarily represent our own interests. Additionally, it’s discussion that rarely has enough evidence to make sound or compelling arguments or one that promotes greater understanding of what our governments are actually doing.

  23. I believe the government determines when formal non-confidence motions can be tabled, no? So whether Iggy does put forward such a motion at some point in the future will largely depend on circumstance. It’s not required now as the ways-and-means motion is a simple up or down vote.

  24. Ti-Guy

    Ignatieff said he would table a non-confidence motion. But now it seems like it would be pretty damn risky to do so, so its an interesting political question.

    It’s only interesting when it becomes clearer whether that will happen or not. Otherwise, it’s just speculation.

    I’d find a discussion speculating on the physics of a two-dimensional universe vastly more entertaining and worthwhile, quite frankly.

    This isn’t only a political blog by the way, and the blogger isn’t particularly partisan.

  25. horatio dunesbury

    Ti-Guy: Why do citizens think its important? That’s a good question, and Im not sure that they do. Pundits seem to think its important and to a certain extent pundits manage to influence some citizens or reflect the opinions of some citizens (emphasis should be on some).

    I generally agree with your other point, but I fear that that’s the way things are and we might as well resign ourselves to it. I mean, considering the level of interest devoted to Britney’s Spear’s haircut, I dont find it particularly alarming that people pay attention to the ins and outs of politicking without understanding every last detail involved.

    To me at least, there is a parallel to be made between politics and hockey. I cheer for a team, I follow my team’s progress and what other teams are doing, and I analyze things to death for no particular rational reason.

  26. horatio dunesbury

    Redtory:
    I believe the government determines when formal non-confidence motions can be tabled, no? So whether Iggy does put forward such a motion at some point in the future will largely depend on circumstance. It’s not required now as the ways-and-means motion is a simple up or down vote.

    I believe the Liberals could table one on their opposition day which is scheduled for approximately 2 weeks from now.

  27. horatio dunesbury

    I’d find a discussion speculating on the physics of a two-dimensional universe vastly more entertaining and worthwhile, quite frankly.

    For one thing, we could not have a digestive tract without being split in 2.

  28. Ti-Guy

    To me at least, there is a parallel to be made between politics and hockey. I cheer for a team, I follow my team’s progress and what other teams are doing, and I analyze things to death for no particular rational reason.

    But this isn’t hockey. This is something important.

  29. If Harper spills poison, the public may not have a single, uniform view on election ‘blame’. Partisans on each side could blame the other. It depends on what the poison is, exactly, in the perception of most non-partisan ‘soft’ votes.

    IIRC, a majority didn’t see the party funding issue last fall as sufficient cause to defeat the government (I could be wrong, sorry I don’t have a ready reference). I think most people didn’t really understand it (the consequences to democracy, etc.) the way the parties did, or that I did.

    The poison would have to be ‘sold’ as a cost savings or some other benefit to the disinterested public, like a wonderful sugary donut that tastes great, even while it poisons our arteries and waistlines. Sorry, I’m on a diet right now 😉 Mmmmm… donuts.

    If such a stunt happens, and it backfires… would it cost him his minority? Perhaps not, and then there’s little risk. It could slide right off his back, people would say they expected it. “That’s Harper, what did you expect?” on one side, and “That’s the radical, power mad leftys, what did you expect?” on the other.

    What about a poison that only works on Liberals, but doesn’t harm BQ or NDP?

  30. horatio dunesbury

    But this isn’t hockey. This is something important.

    yes I know, but if you’re asking why people behave the way they do in relation to politics (your well documented complaint), I believe this explains at least part of it.

    To paraphrase you from a couple of comments ago, we are humans, not anything particularly rational, remember.

  31. KOL

    I really think the NDP are avoiding an election right now; not sure about the BQ. I don’t really think the Conservatives made any deals.

    You are obviously correct. The NDP’s fortunes have been tied to the Conservatives’ for decades. Nearly all of the seats the NDP have gained since 2000 have come at the expense of the Liberals. It was like that in the Mulroney years as well. We’ve all seen Jack Layton get misty-eyed when reminiscing the good old days of Ed Broadbent leading the NDP to its best result ever in 1988 (43 seats). Three quarters of those 40+ Dippers were thrown out along with the Conservative government in 1993. The same thing will happen to Layton’s cohort when Canadians decide to rid themselves of the Harper government.

    The only way to break this cycle is for the NDP to forget about trying to replace the Liberals and instead seek to form a political, as well as parliamentary, coalition with the Liberals. Without the two parties competing against each other, the Liberals could regain the majority in Ontario and the Dippers could challenge the Conservatives in the western provinces. Canadians would have a stable, centre-left government. Unfortunately, it will take better leaders than Layton and Ignatieff to make it happen.

  32. hitfan

    The NDP wants to protect their seat count and the Bloc wants to ensure that a slew of MPs from the class of ’04 get their pensions.

    If another election were to happen right now, I’d give the chances of the following possible outcomes:

    15% Conservative majority
    50% Conservative minority
    30% Liberal minority
    5% Liberal majority

    The Bloc is a wild card and their demise was predicted a long time ago and yet keep going just like the Energizer bunny. Ironically, they were polling their highest numbers ever in 2000 and they had their worst performance in the actual election that year.

    I expect the NDP to lose seats, mostly to the Liberals but the difference here is that the Conservatives almost have twice as many seats.

    So if an election occurs, even if Ignatieff does not win (the most likely outcome), he’ll increase the seat count and he’ll be able to stay on as leader until the next election when the conditions for a Liberal victory become more likely.

  33. Ti-Guy

    IIRC, a majority didn’t see the party funding issue last fall as sufficient cause to defeat the government (I could be wrong, sorry I don’t have a ready reference). I think most people didn’t really understand it (the consequences to democracy, etc.) the way the parties did, or that I did.

    On the issue of party funding: the news media will not allow the public to think about money in any other way than how most of us normally think about money; our freedom to spend it. Andrew Coyne, particularly, was strident and vocal about how bad this public funding is; that it permits parties to be lazy and to avoid their own fund-raising and, we are to assume, engage more directly with their constituents. And of course, the old chestnut; that this drop in the total pool of government spending represents an intolerable tax burden.

    This is a huge fraud on the part of the media. They’re really only interested in getting more money into the process because it benefits their own class of people; pundits, political analysts, pr and advertising industry workers, consultants and pollsters who make up the bulk our journalistic class (actual reporters being no more than office assistants these days). More malignly, it really seeks to equate money with political freedom which will lead eventually to the situation that exists in the USA; The richer you are, the more political freedom you have, with corporations being the freest “citizens” there are. And we know how disastrous that has been.

  34. Ti-Guy

    yes I know, but if you’re asking why people behave the way they do in relation to politics (your well documented complaint), I believe this explains at least part of it.

    Sorry, I wasn’t looking for a explanation with my question. It was more rhetorical. I understand why people do it (I’m exposed to it all the time). I’m asserting that they’re wasting they’re time. And judging by how more and more people are tuning out, I’m not the only one who’s come to that conclusion.

    I blame the media though, not average people.

  35. lenny len

    “Harper managed to make it look as if he wasnt seeking the Bloc or the NDP’s support. ”

    Yeah, if you’re a credulous rube who believes Harper was planning on introducing EI legislation before Iggy coincidentally announced he’d no longer support the government.
    I don’t see why the NDP and Bloc shouldn’t continue supporting legislation they favour. Until such time as they make a deal to support some loathsome Con bill, or allow a poison pill, it seems to me that Harper is carrying their water.

  36. Maybe people are tuning out because they realize that it doesn’t really make any difference. Harper is spending up a storm driving the economy into unprecedented levels of deficit, the NDP and Bloc are supporting the government for their own self-serving purposes, and the Liberals are calling for fiscal restraint while at the same time advocating reforms to EI and other spending programs that would ramp up the deficit they encouraged the Conservatives to run in the first place. None of this makes any sense from a logical standpoint.

  37. take_dead_aim

    Am i the only one that thinks that the Cons were actually favouring an election more and more with each passing week since Iggy pulled his support?

    Most of the posts i’m reading seem to be implying that somehow Harper was saved by the Bloc/NDP.

    I think the exact opposite. I think he’s frustrated that it looks like he may not go to the polls on the issue of ‘we can do better’.

    Unless most/all of the opinion polls are wrong, he’s received a bump in Ontario and an NDP collapse in BC, which helps him somewhat (not entirely).

  38. Ti-Guy

    Unless most/all of the opinion polls are wrong..

    I don’t think they’re wrong. They’re just not measuring anything rational.

  39. sapphireandsteel

    On another note. this is interesting

    http://www.wasagasun.ca/wasagasun/article/145232

  40. Dean

    …Jack fell down and broke his crown and Gilles came tumbling after…

  41. S&S — Indeed.

    Not that I really care if Jaffer is a cokehead (to each his/her own and all that)…

    I’m more curious about whether the outfit he works for is the same company pushing hydrogen solid fuel cell electrical power generation technology.

  42. Ti-Guy

    Not that I really care if Jaffer is a cokehead (to each his/her own and all that)…

    I do. Cocaine causes mediocrities to think they’re brilliant, which would go a long to way to explain a lot about the Conservative Party.

  43. sapphireandsteel

    That pic looks Brokeback Parliament. 🙂

  44. Ti-Guy — I get your point, but I’ll stand by the presumption of innocence for the time being.

  45. Ti-Guy

    but I’ll stand by the presumption of innocence for the time being.

    Typical liberal, namby-pamby, hug-a-thug… 😉

  46. My personal views on criminal justice are light-years removed from anything that could remotely be described as “liberal”…

  47. Grammin

    “We can do better”
    Funny, EI reform was Iggy’s main issue with the Con govt for months and now a piece of legislation that is likely better and certainly plays a sweeter note to the public is introduced and he will vote against it as a supposed matter of principle. The NDP and Bloc are correct to support it in terms of their supposed philosophies, while Iggy is a tool to now be the lone dissenting voice against measures better than those he had been advising publicly for most of this year. I mean cmon, quit playing trumpet for this jackass and put his feet to the coals where they belong.
    It’s ridiculous and I trust most would/should agree.

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