Thursday, June 03, 2010

Why would any Liberal suggest a deal with the NDP right now?

The short answer is fear. They believe it is the only way to defeat Stephen Harper. The logic of those making this suggestion is the centre-left is divided so it needs to be united in order to take on the big bad Conservatives.

The biggest hole in that logic is the centre-left in this country has been divided for over 60 years. With the exception of the 1990s, the centre-right in this country has had only one party to represent it for the last 6 decades yet in those 60 years the Liberals have dominated the Canadian federal political scene.

You see, the pattern in this country for the past 60 years is the Liberals govern, often for long stretches at a time. As usually happens, with long standing governments, they get tired, they run out of ideas and the electorate decides it is time for a change. At that point Liberal support tends to bleed to the NDP in sufficient numbers that the a conservative party forms a government. Then when Canadians grow tired of that government those that lent their votes to the NDP go back to the Liberals, often in very big numbers. In short, Canadians believe there are only two parties that can be trusted to govern. The Liberals and their conservative alternative.

We have seen no evidence that this pattern has changed. Yes some would point to the polls indicating that Jack Layton is the most popular federal leader right now but one thing about respondents to polls is they know that they can answer the question any way the like without consequences. No government has fallen and no party ever formed a government based on a poll from Nanos, Ekos, Strategic Council, et al.

It is only the ballot box, where the decision of a voter has profound consequences, where we should be looking and it you look there it is as plain as Stephen Harper's hair style that the decades old voting pattern is still alive. Despite Adscam, the Liberals came in second in the 2006 election and despite the worst showing of the Liberal Party since 1984 the Liberals still have double the seats of the NDP after the 2008 election.

The spanner in the works is the Bloc. It is a big enough force in Quebec to be a problem. However, twice in this decade it looked like their grip on Quebec was loosening only to have the two big parties give them another lease on life. The Liberals did it with Adscam in 2006 and the Conservatives did it with their policy proposal of locking up 14 year olds and attacking the arts in 2008. Long standing stalwarts of the seperatist movement have called into question the whole concept so if the Liberals can exploit that and provide Quebecers a reason to vote Liberal again they should be able to whither the Bloc.

The other argument is Canadians are becoming more conservative. Again the ballot box proves that argument wrong.

A third argument is Conservative voters are more motivated while progressive voters have washed their hands of politics. Again, the ballot box prove that argument wrong and when Canadians finally decide to rid themselves of the Conservative government they will come out to vote to do so. It is funny, whenever Canadians become motivated to get rid of a government voter turnout goes up. We saw that with Brian Mulroney's, Jean Chretien's and Stephen Harper's first election victories.

There is no reason for the Liberals to make a deal with the NDP right now. The current Conservative government has passed its best before date. There is a malaise in the electorate right now that will change into a desire for change. Once that happens many voter who deserted the Liberals will come back to them. Liberals should be patient and not let fear cloud their judgement or make them do something that would be counter-productive in the extreme.

If after the next election the Liberals are in a position to form a government and they need help from another party to do so then seeking that help from the NDP should be an option. Until then just focus on being an effective opposition and winning the next election.


Blogger Volkov said...

Hear, hear! I agree 100%. Now all we need to do is drive this into the head of Sam Lavoie and others and we're good.

June 03, 2010 7:40 PM  
Blogger WesternGrit said...

Great post.

June 03, 2010 9:05 PM  
Blogger WesternGrit said...

... And it's true: Canadians are NOT more Conservative. If anything, they are less so. Mulroney won MAJORITY governments (that's50%+1 folks), while Harper struggles to make 35%. MOST Canadians are moderate/center to left center. The Liberals, NDP, Bloc, and Greens all fit that bill.

Love your point about sticking to our guns. We aren't going anywhere, and we HAVE indeed governed through most of Canada's history.

June 03, 2010 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece. As tempting as a coalition might be in the short term, it's important to stick to our guns. I know a majority sounds like a dream, but shooting for one and getting a minority is way better than we have now. Then it's "coalition if necessary...". We do have to keep in mind that no one would be talking coalition if the liberals didn't need to get their crap together.

June 03, 2010 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The biggest hole in that logic is the centre-left in this country has been divided for over 60 years.":

True. Or rather the centre-left and the left have been divided.

The NDP is not the centre-left. They are Canada's left. The Liberals are Canada's centre-left. A deal/coalition/dinner&movie with the NDP will move the Liberals from being the centre-left to simply being the left.

And the NDP has never formed a federal government. It's worth thinking about that.

The Liberal party needs to stop trying for the quick fix to "get rid of Harper" or "get back in power" or whatever the motivation is. Create a centrist platform. Present it to Canadians. Run on it. That's what the Liberal party should do. It might give them a minority government.

June 04, 2010 2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


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June 08, 2010 11:32 PM  

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