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.

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27 Comments

Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, Stephen Harper

27 responses to “Post-Election Speculation

  1. ck

    I love all this continued speculation. Amusing, really. One thing missing in all this speculation– the GG, himself. Nobody knows how he’ll rule or what he would do. Last time he was in Montreal, the week of the budget and non-confidence motion, he was hounded as to what he might do, he’s kept mum.

    Also, if you can, pick up a copy of Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland” Read pages 187-188– interview John Baird with CBC’s Don Newman and what their plan b. It’s an eye opener. Not sure if the plan would’ve succeeded, but the very idea. GG Johnston may not be so receptive to the opposition.

  2. jkg

    Reducing this election discourse down to a binary set (majority or bust) has done wonders in whipping up populist fervour. The fact of the matter is that should Harper get a minority and fails to produce an acceptable budget in the house, these are types of discussions that will need to be done. Ignatieff is just acknowledging that reality. Even Paul Wells picked up how this is getting out of hand, and even alluded to the frustration that with this discussion, the election campaign is ‘vanishing down the rabbit hole.’ There will be little talk of policy now as the CPC machine will leverage this as much as possible. The irony of course is that once they do spin this, the objection that the Liberals took Harper’s quotes out of context as an unfair tactic will be more bitter than a crashed lemon truck.

  3. Sounds intriguing, but I don’t really have time to go buy the book and look up the interview with John Baird.

    So why don’t you just illuminate me now as to what their “Plan B” is…

  4. Iciu

    I have asked you before Red, why do you keep going along with the idea that “Coalition” is a horrible concept? The Cons are the only ones that seem to be genuinely capable of keeping a straight face when saying something like this.

    Look at the body language: Layton is relaxed and comfortable, his only deflection was on stopping short of saying”Harper is lying” (don’t really know why) while Ignatieff is deflecting and avoiding heavily, almost as much as Harper would do… I do agree that the prospect of a Conservative majority is very scary, so if he genuinely believes this, why is the prospect of a Coalition so much avoided… does he genuinely believe that the Libs can scare the population into voting a Liberal majority out of fear of Harper? or at least enough seats so he can have the major say if he needs support from others (maybe even from the likes of Harper?). Yes, I would take Ignatieff any day over Harper but I would take Layton or Duceppe any day over Ignatieff and I would likely take 30 million+ other Canadian before Harper any day but this does not say much about Igantieff… if Ray had won that leadership, the Libs would have a spine today… as it stands… pretty crappy choice… Dion was not charismatic but he was not slimy like this guy… yes, a bit less slimy than Harper, that’s for sure…

  5. RT:

    I recently read Harperland and I think ck is referring to that if the GG had not prorogued in 2008 that the Harper government was prepared to bypass the GG and go to the Queen and/or try some populist approach, but that they would not accept the authority of the GG if she did not rule they way Harper wanted on the matter. It is nebulous because the interviewee (Pollieve I think, can’t be sure but definitely a CPC insider, could have been Baird but definitely one of the more political mouthpieces within the CPC caucus) just said there were other options and cited the Queen as one but did not categorically state this was the Plan B, just that it was a possible option under consideration at the time should the GG not do as they wished, the infamous plan B.

    As to the point of your post, Harper has no interest in compromising with other parties except when it is something that furthers his agenda (like the way he would team up with the NDP early on to beat down on the Libs, because one of Harper’s core mission plans is to destroy the Liberal party of Canada, why this is such a fixation for him I’ve never really understood but it clearly exists and his actions as PM have only underscored this). So I don’t see him doing so after this election on anything that might make the Libs look any good, and he can’t really compromise with Layton’s NDP on much on serious policy issues without totally pissing off his core base both within the voting base and the caucus base. Harper doesn’t do compromise, that’s the story of his political life after all.

    As to the Harper majority or coalition spin, what really sickens me about it is how many people don’t understand their own system of government well enough to understand just how much Harper is bullshitting them with that argument. There is no binary outcomes from an election in a Parliamentary democracy when there are multiple parties involved, it simply cannot happen. Not to mention it totally discounts what the voters might decide to do on their own, like what happened in Ontario back in 1990 (not that I see that happening for the NDP federally, just using it to underscore the point that many outcomes are always possible and people should understand that). No, Harper uses the binary configuration because it is the only way his FUD campaign can really work, it is not like he has a positive track record of governing to run on (nonsense claims about being good economic managers during the recession he claimed wasn’t happening that didn’t need deficit spending that he promised his government would never do aka Canada’s Action Plan in the last election notwithstanding) for the past five years. This is the least productive government I have ever seen in my lifetime and could end up being the least productive in history at this rate it has done so little.

    Harper continues to poison the well for Canadians in how they view their government and its value to them, and that is a disservice to us all, and quite honestly is contemptuous of all Canadians that ever served in a uniform and fought in wars to defend such things from those that would have taken it away from us if they could. Indeed, it is contemptuous to all Canadians that have ever done anything to help build this great nation of ours be it in the political realm or elsewhere, because what Harper truly is at heart is a destroyer of those Canadian values. He really don’t believe in them RT, which is why I don’t find the comparisons between him and the Dark Lord of the Sith so much of a stretch.

  6. Iciu

    I meant “Rae” not “Ray” 🙂

  7. ICIU: Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the concept of a “Coalition” at all. In fact, quite to the contrary, I’m positively in favour of a progressive coalition. The Liberals have done some of their best work in the past when forced into a working arrangement with the NDP.

    I’m just approaching the matter from the standpoint of election politics. If Ignatieff hadn’t taken that off the table ASAP the issue would have dogged him throughout the campaign and given Harper the opportunity to reframe the election on those terms rather than being held accountable for his own record of conduct while in office.

  8. Scotian: Thanks for the clarification re “Plan B”… I really can’t see going over the GG’s head as a viable option at all, if indeed that’s what they had in mind. Depending on the results and subsequent events, we might possibly find out.

    You’re entirely justified to be sickened at the widespread and profound ignorance of people in this country about how our system is meant to work. I suppose you can’t blame them given the general disregard in our schools for history and civics, combined with the fact that our media is deeply lazy and doesn’t like to get mired in “process” issues because they bore easily and assume others have similarly gnat-like attention spans.

  9. tofkw

    Though it annoys me to no end that the Reformatories are perverting over 400 years of how our Westminster parliamentary system works on one of it most fundamental aspects (how a government is formed and Prime Ministers come to power) – the really interesting part of this is Harper’s refusal to comment on his future should he fail to win a majority. This is an admission that should he fail to do so, he may not be able to control the party any longer and leadership challengers will be coming out in the open.

  10. Well, you can’t blame Harper for that. Just as Ignatieff doesn’t want to tip his hand lest that influence how people might vote based on a hypothetical situation, the notion that another minority government would ensure Harper’s departure might well encourage some people to vote in such a way as to help that process. I’ve talked to a number of folks who would most likely otherwise vote Conservative were it not for Harper being the leader.

  11. tofkw

    I’ve talked to a number of folks who would most likely otherwise vote Conservative were it not for Harper being the leader.

    Doesn’t that fit the profile of a number of us posting on this blog?

  12. Shiner

    Dan Gardner predicted that we would see the biggest game of chicken in Canadian history if Harper wins another minority. I don’t think it will be as suspensful as all that.

    Seems pretty clear (because he says so) that Harper would try to govern like he had a majority, with all sorts of crazy shit thrown in for the sludge that makes up the Conservative base. Whatever would happen next, I can’t see any scenario that doesn’t come up Harper.

    Ignatieff brings down the government and the Harper appointed GG does or doesn’t give him a shot at forming government. How would the polls look for the Libs then with the Con bots screeching “SEE!!!”? I think it would hit the Liberals really hard. Maybe they could ride it out through another election, but Harper really isn’t that far from a majority.

  13. I predict the Bloq boogeyman will give Harper his majority. The spin on Iggy’s admission will pay dividends, regardless of him merely speaking the truth. Also, any arrangement or “coalition” will make a liar of Iggy in the eyes of many. He’s way off message now and there’s no time for new traction. His best-case scenario is 75-78 seats and I suspect less.

  14. RT:

    I can and do blame them actually. It shouldn’t have to be spelled out to people that democratic governance requires informed voters that have a basic (not an esoteric Constitutional scholars appreciation of how government works, just the basic) understand of how their system of government works if only so as to understand the impact of the policy proposals of the different parties campaigning for your vote to form the government which creates the structures that shape your living space. It’s not rocket science, and the level of complacence I’ve seen as of late in not getting this makes us little if any better than the average American when it comes to this, which is really sick given how many Canadians used to take pride in how they were better informed on such matters than our neighbours to the south.

    Responsible government and representative democracy can only happen when there are informed voters involved in the process, and the last few decades have seen a real loss in this regard. When it gets to the point that Harper and his supporters/partisans can use the word coalition as such a boogeyman and not be laughed all the way to the curb then it has gotten really bad indeed. You get the government you vote for (assuming you still vote at all and aren’t one of those people who think it is better to not vote than to vote for the lesser evil, which tends to allow the greater evil to win in the end because as we all know all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing which is why I hate those that act pious about not voting on moral grounds of not liking their choices), or don’t vote for for that matter, and what we have these days is something that has the potential to destroy a once proud nation in such a few short years.

    Yes, I know you don’t share my fears in this RT, but I do know you know that I am not one that comes to them based on partisan rhetoric, that my views are shaped by my own understanding of the political reality we live in, a decent working understanding of how our system actually works, and my own read on Harper, a man I’ve watched since the late 1980s. I know how I sound when I talk like this, I know I sound hysterical to many, but so did Cassandra in the myth and that did not change the underlying message that even those that sound hysterical/outlandish can be right so it is never wise to always dismiss such warnings out of hand (although I freely grant one should not be too credulous about them either, one needs to see how that view was formed first, I am a little more open here because of our history and that you do know where my views come from about Harper). Anyways, you can see why I stopped doing much political blogging, I get too emotional and given my fragile health that is a real problem for me these days, and the frustration I feel hitting my head against the brick walls surrounding getting people to see Harper for what he truly is as well as being tired of repeating myself over and over doesn’t help either. I’m only around commenting as much as I have been the past few weeks because we are in an election, and I can’t not do something during an election, as little, limited, and likely futile as it probably will be.

  15. ck

    Sorry for taking so long.
    In Lawrence Martin’s Harperland, in Chapter 14, “Surviving the Coalition” , where Martin talks about that fateful coalition formed in 2008, Harper, as we know, opted to prorogue rather than face a non-confidence vote back then. What is not discussed in the usual media circles though is what would’ve or could’ve happened had then GG Michaelle Jean not granted his prorogation demand. According to Harperland, there was a tenative Plan B. I will quote directly from the book:

    Her word, if it was no, would not necessarily have been the final word. The fight may have been far from over. The PM had warned that he intended to use every means at his disposal to stop the takeover of his government. When he got public opinion on his side, he felt there were options available. (Pg. 187)

    Martin reminisces about an interview John Baird did with the CBC’s Don Newman back then:

    “What we want to do,” he declared, “is basically take a timeout and go over the heads of parliament, go over the head, frankly, of the governor general, go right to the Canadian peopl. They’re speaking up loudly right across the country, in a way I’ve never seen.” (Pg 187)

    As Martin explains, never has one been so blatant, so candid in describing just how much disrespect Stevie has for Ottawa’s institutions and their laissez-faire attitude toward checks and balances in the system. He spilled it all in that interview.

    Anyway, the option Harper was considering had Michaelle Jean not granted him his prorogation demand, according to Baird’s suggestion, was this:

    If the governor general had refused his request, he could have replaced her with a more compliant one, making the case to the Queen that the people of Canada were opposed in great numbers to a coalition replacing his government. (Pg 188)

    Honestly, I’m not sure how well this would’ve gone over with the queen or what she would’ve done or told Harper. Martin doesn’t speculate. That isn’t the point. The point is how far Harper is willing to go if a GG doesn’t let him have his way.

  16. TofKW: LOL Yes, it certainly does. Although when I made that remark it was with people encountered in “real life” that I had in mind. “Creepy” is a word that comes up frequently in casual conversations when the subject is broached. The disgruntled Tories and Progressive Conservatives that comment here tend to be more thoughtful and articulate about why they find Harper and his minions to be objectionable.

  17. Shiner: Perhaps he would behave the dickish way you’ve described, but the argument against that advanced by more than a few pundits is that he would try to more firmly entrench himself in the middle-ground in an effort to make the Liberals largely irrelevant, thereby making the Conservatives the new “natural governing party” the country — a long-term objective that I believe he’s expressed in the past.

  18. Scotian: I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your opinions here, especially in light of your health issues. And no, I don’t think you’re over-reacting or being hysterically paranoid when it comes to Harper. You may well be entirely correct in your pessimistic assessment of the man, his motives, and the harm he could well do to this country and its institutions if given “absolute power” (as the Liberal ads would have it).

  19. I do wonder how the smart-asses who obdurately refuse to acknowledge our crying need for some kind of proportional representation will feel when they see Harper ushered into a majority after a series of patently odious ministries and a limp-dicked, intellectually bankrupt campaign merely because about 20% of eligible Canadian voters are either villainously tolerant of official corruption and stupidity when committed by verminous anti-Eastern demagogues [Hi, Tomm!] or so electorally exhausted that they’re willing to give the Nixonian reptile what he craves just to get our dismal political class out of their hair for four years.

    If we find acceptable and wish to sustain this kind of “representative” democracy, why not find more cost- and labour-efficient ways of doing so? Why not, for example, permanently exclude the mainstream parties from federal competition and choose, by quadrennial lottery, a different fringe party to rule over us? Given the miniscule mandates our governments tend to receive, the widespread apathy with which Canadians live their politics, and the recent transformation of ineptitude and idiocy into governmental dogmas, what chasm is there between a CPC ministry and a Christian Heritage Party government that isn’t purely conditioned by money, media exposure, star candidates, and a fanatically loyal base founded in irrational regional loyalties?

  20. Shiner

    Red, I think that requires a degree of patience on the part of the CPC organisation that isn’t really there. I very much doubt that Lord, Prentice, and Kenney are going to sit around waiting for Harper to finish treating Canada like a game of Civilization. True, the grassroots would gladly die for Harper… or at least squeeze out non sensical comments across the internet… but there are some grown ups in the party, and they’re well aware that the yokels will pledge allegiance to whatever schmutz they put on the throne.

    Moreover, Ignatieff won’t lead the Liberals forever… or even for the next year. I was one of the idiots that was convinced Canadians would warm to the guy. I was obviously horribly mistaken. A good portion of the Liberals’ current problems are due to Ignatieff’s low appeal, that can be overcome and it presents a real time sensitive risk to Harper.

    Also, SF is, as usual, right. We need some major institutional change in this country. Our system isn’t meant to deal with this bizarre political scene.

  21. Shiner: Sigh. I can’t disagree with you in the least. There’s not much chance of Iggy-mania suddenly breaking out between now and May 2nd. He’s done a creditable job so far and has certainly been an improvement over Dion on the campaign trail, but clearly has failed to ignite much enthusiasm amongst voters at large.

  22. tofkw

    Grammins wrote:
    I predict the Bloq boogeyman will give Harper his majority. The spin on Iggy’s admission …

    I’m sure you fear it, but most non-partisan votes could care less.

    The CPC (aka Harper, as really the party is all just him) was stupid to play the coalition card right from the beginning like this. If there was anyone intelligent running his war room (apparently they need Finley back as babysitter) then they’d keep mum about the whole coalition thing until the final week. Then you spring the Bloc + coalition bogeyman.

    Talking about it non-stop for fucking forever now has taken all the impact out of the idea that parties need to work together for a minority parliament to function. In fact the coalition thing has bit Harper in the ass as the media was asking since day two of the campaign about why Harper was talking with socialists and separatists back in 2004. And now Iggy’s interview with Mansbridge has instigated a civics lesson in the media …Canadians are now learning how a Westminster parliament actually works.

    All this is taking away any fear Harper tried to instil amongst the multitudes of undecided voters out there. The CPC’s numbers are not any higher since the beginning of the election, in fact only 1-2% above 2008 levels with significant regional number changes that mute any possible gains.

    Besides a coalition is the CPC’s best friend right now, for such a government would be very fragile and certainly could not last long. Plenty of time for the Conservatives to finally dump Harper and elect a sensible Tory without his baggage – you know – someone who doesn’t automatically piss-off 60% of the voters before they open their mouth. Bernard Lord or Jim Prentice would be excellent choices. Either would lead the CPC to an easy majority win once the ‘eeevil coalition’ inevitably falls.

    The only one against such a plan would be Harper. Time the CPC members start to think about what’s best for the party, and not just the current leader.

  23. jkg

    do wonder how the smart-asses who obdurately refuse to acknowledge our crying need for some kind of proportional representation will feel when they see Harper ushered into a majority

    Well, as a smart ass who opposed PR in Ontario, until I see a better system that would not further erode the representation of low density constituencies, I will stick with FPTP (though I think run-off voting would be a good compromise). It is bad enough as it stands with regionalism being politically manifested.

    merely because about 20% of eligible Canadian voters are either villainously tolerant of official corruption and stupidity when committed by verminous anti-Eastern demagogues [Hi, Tomm!] or so electorally exhausted that they’re willing to give the Nixonian reptile what he craves just to get our dismal political class out of their hair for four years.

    You can thank the neoconservatives for that. When being “Toronto-centric” becomes an epithet to describe bizarrely someone who expresses a federalist perspective underlying a strong central government (sorry I was born in Ontario without the divine clarity and wisdom imbued by the soils of the West), I am beginning to wonder if we’d gone back in time, those populist cheerleaders would be the one tarring and feathering the Loyalists.

    I would appreciate it if partisans can simply drop the pretense that these pusillanimous pot shots are hardly serious discussions for the ‘good of the country.’ The subtext of Harper poisoning the well with this rhetoric is to channel some primal emotion as it though Patriotes were marching onto the legislative assembly in Montreal in 1837. The difference, of course, is that it is not in the interest of government reform, but rather to ride anti-Eastern populism until Harper can entrench his own brand of leadership in the political institutions he is allegedly supposed to protect. But none of these concerns with respect to the health of our institutions gets watered down because it deals in the approximate as opposed to the ultimate. People complain about vision, but in reality, it is just a desire for a laundry list of tax advantages zeroed into particular demographics? It is most certainly effective, but it would take great delusion to believe that this sort of relationship between the political class and voters is based on the continued discussion and organic development of shard policy visions for Canada. I know I am naive in hoping that would occur, but I am not going to buy into being told that Harper’s ministry was motivated by a large picture ethos in grounded in something higher than professional ambition.

    Why not, for example, permanently exclude the mainstream parties from federal competition and choose, by quadrennial lottery, a different fringe party to rule over us?

    What is that old concept called? The Peter Principle? His suggestion most likely would result in more effective government, really.

  24. Thank you, JKG, for reminding me that some critiques of PR can be principled and well-reasoned.

    I do find FPTP fundamentalists frustrating, but, though the smart asses are legion, you’re just smart; you’re most certainly not an ass. 😉

  25. RT:

    Thanks for giving me a place where I feel I can comment and be understood and treated with respect even in disagreement by the regulars here. My patience has become very thin these days, especially with Dippers talking out of both sides of their mouths about how important it is to defeat Harper while not accepting any accountability for how their leader helped put Harper in power, kept him there, worked with him at every turn that worked for both parties when it came to further beat on the Liberal Party, and so on. Where I can state my very real fears about Harper if he ever gets to a majority and know that you and the regulars here know I am not mouthing partisan rhetoric and/or talking points but deeply held convictions based on extensive examination of Harper’s adult record in politics for nearly 25 years now. That while I could be wrong (and would love it if I am, but especially after the past five years showed me to be if anything underestimating just how dangerous Harper would be as a PM to our institutions of government really tend to doubt that I am) I am not a shallow ill informed hysteric where Harper is concerned. Just having that alone helps me a great deal RT, because I think you are one of the only people online who believe me to be speaking nothing but the absolute truth when I say that the current political reality has caused me great and deep personal pain unlike anything I have ever experienced as a political watcher in my life. That I am deeply ashamed to be Canadian these days because of the level of ignorance of so many citizens about the realities of the Harper regime and how far outside the norms it has operated as a government, how much it has tried to create its own rules for governing instead of following the actual ones and the laws that underpin them, and worse the ignorance of how our system of government works at the most basic levels allowing Harper to pull this coalition majority or else fear mongering and being taken seriously by so many not just in the media but the public as well.

    It matters to me to know there is still at least one place left to me where I can raise my fears and know I am being treated seriously. Where it is understood that my absence of the past three years has not been by choice or preference or because I stopped believing/caring about these things but because I cared so much that the strain of commenting on them was taking a physical toll on my fragile health (btw, speaking of, I finally quit smoking at the start of the year cold turkey and have had no trouble sticking to it since so far, much to my own surprise given it had been a 30 year addiction and a primary stress release valve). The past 5 years of the Harper government have been a horror movie for me to watch unfolding, and I cannot overstate just how much it has appalled me to watch the indifference of so many Canadians to a government that not just plays fast and loose with the basic rules/laws of government but goes out of its way to pervert them and undercut them and even pretend they never existed in the first place solely for their own narrow partisan advantages and to destroy systems that have worked for most Canadians for many decades (even if they didn’t notice them because they were actually doing their jobs properly). Worse, they do it not for venal reasons like ripping off tax dollars but for ideological reasons because they don’t believe these are things that the citizens deserve to have in place, a far Far FAR more serious problem for concern than simple theft of money. The idea that Adscam is somehow a much more serious scandal than the abuses of power we have seen from the Harper government including but not limited to the grounds that led to the contempt citation by the Speaker and the confidence motion of contempt that brought down a government for the first time ever in Canadian history staggers me. Money can be replaced, rights and powers not so easily, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to grasp this basic a fact, or at least I wouldn’t have thought so, yet here were are it seems given how little these abuse of power scandals have registered as serious issues of competency, credibility, and trust for the Harper CPC in this election.

    I find it bitterly ironic that much of my most strongly held reasons for opposing Harper has been my conservative aspect regarding the powers of government and wanting them respected instead of treated like toilet paper (at best when we talk about the Harper government), not my liberal/lefty social justice and welfare side (which is no less appalled by Harper, but as bad as he is on this area it is the issues that touch my conservative side where he truly terrifies me) on economic and social welfare and justice policy issues. Yet for all my concerns being rooted in a deeply traditional Canadian conservative pattern I get denounced routinely as some sort of left wing nutcase by Harper CPC supporters and partisans, which as I said is incredibly ironic and only underscores why they are such an unfit party to govern and so many of its supporters unfit to have any sort of reality based discussion of any political matters, either because they are profoundly ignorant or worse profoundly deceitful and either way are proud of either one in the end. Such does NOT make for a healthy political environment, no not at all!

  26. Tomm

    Scotian,

    You have some amazing insights. You already know how well you understand the changes Harper is bringing to Canada. I appreciate those views. It is why I read your stuff with interest.

    What I understand less well is why, if you understand what is happening so acutely, you are not in support of it.

    The Canadian political/media milieu was deviating further and further from what Canadian’s (western Canadian’s anyway) wanted or needed from their federal government. But it was like a cry in the wilderness. The core of the media and the governing politician’s just knew better than the great un-washed. I have found their surprise at all the changes since 2004 to be really quite fascinating.

    They still don’t seem to get it. Where are the articles by those journalists, and experts that predicated the sky would fall in 2006 and since (water, poverty, AIDS, catastrophic climate change, sovereignty, aboriginal relations, health care, “structural” deficits, provincial relations, the Supreme Court, radical Islamic targetting of Canada, Charter Rights, abortion, the death penalty, “soldiers in the streets”, etc.) apologizing for their scare tactics?

    That would tell me that they at least “get it” to quote Michael Ignatieff. But they still don’t. After 5 years they remain as dogmatic about what is the only path for Canada as they were when Martin/Chretien were in charge.

    I can ask the same writers and the same journalists to do me a piece and they would write the same articles just as if the last 5 years hasn’t existed.

    Fascinating.

  27. NC

    As a centrist Ontarian, the prospect of a formal coalition or a coalition-type arrangement between the second- and third-place parties if the first-place party does not receive the confidence of parliament does not strike horror in my heart the way Mr. Harper wishes it would. Given our current electoral system, to my mind it provides one of several options in which parliament could function without ongoing elections in minority situations.

    However, I was listening to an interview by Rex Murphy of Brad Wall on “Cross-Country Checkup” yesterday (Easter Sunday), and Premier Wall raised an issue that had not really crossed this Ontarian’s mind. In his view, there would be considerable anger in the West if a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition-type arrangement managed to rule in place of the Tories. I would not personally see it as an attempt to disenfranchise the West, but I can see how it might be taken that way.

    To my mind, the best thing for the country would be a wholesale change in party leadership. Although I am a longtime Liberal, I am able to respect those in all parties who are fundamentally reasonable people with the best interest of the country at heart. I have a deep and abiding mistrust for Mr. Harper, and although I am warming to Mr. Ignatieff, I think that his recent improvements in messaging and style are too little, too late.

    My own hope is that a Tory party elected to another minority would replace Mr. Harper with a new leader, with the Liberals likely following suit within a few years. Longer-term, what we need is wholesale electoral reform, but I fear that current leadership is not brave enough to move toward it.

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