Post-Election Speculation

Peter Mansbridge talking to Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff about past and future attempts to form a “coalition” or some other working arrangement between the parties in a minority parliament scenario:

From the outset of this election, it’s been a hazardous issue for Ignatieff. Even though he flatly ruled out any talk of forming a “coalition” with the NDP and the Bloc – a decision not arrived at quickly enough for some like me – he’s obviously still got to leave the door open to such a possibility in the event that the Conservatives don’t succeed in getting their coveted majority and should Harper then fail at his “first try” to gain the confidence of the House.

The Harper spin is that unless he gets an absolute majority then the deck will be stacked against him… The opposition parties will band together, vote down his budget and then attempt to form what you can be sure the Conservatives will describe as an “illegitimate” government instead.

Of course, that imaginary scenario conveniently overlooks one significant part of the equation: what Harper may do should the Canadian people once again deny him a majority. If he’s willing to compromise with other parties in the House and incorporate some of their policies into his Budget, then he can easily diffuse the situation and remain in power.

It actually wouldn’t be a tremendous stretch to accommodate some of the proposals from the Liberals and NDP on say, pension reform, student loans, public financing of elections, etc., along with promises for more transparency on tendering of certain military contracts, or whatever… There is lots of room to manouever and a lot of different cards on the table he could play. Question is whether could bring himself to seriously engage with his political opponents in that way.

A Stylistic Contrast

Not that either leader is exactly “radioactive with charisma” (to borrow a description from Rex Murphy), but it is interesting to draw distinctions between Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper from their performance on the stump.

Here’s Ignatieff speaking at a town hall meeting in Victoria the other day, talking about a wide range of issues with an emphasis on education and the environment (go figure).

And here’s Harper speaking on the lower mainland at the Kerrisdale Legion on the same day (or thereabouts) talking about his party’s “tough on crime” agenda.

I suppose there are all sorts of different impressions that can be drawn from comparing the two performances… Rather than offer up my own opinion, I’m much more curious to know what you think of them.