Brian Gallant resigns as Liberal leader but likely would still be premier if he had introduced PR

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jerrym
Brian Gallant resigns as Liberal leader but likely would still be premier if he had introduced PR

Former Premier Brian Gallant has resigned as Leader of the Liberal Party but will remain as MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe. 

However, had Gallant, who  proposed proportional representation in his October throne speech before being defeated in the legislature, introduced PR before the election, he would likely still be in office. Gallant's concentration of votes in francophone ridings led to his winning the popular vote by a 6% margin but finishing second in the number of seats won.

 A PR distribution of seats based on percentage of votes (Liberals 37.80%, PCs 31.89%, People's Alliance 12.58%, Greens 11.88%, NDP 5.01%) would have given the following seat distribution (Liberals 19, PCs 16, People's Alliance 6, Greens 6, NDP 2) and the chance for the Liberals and Gallant to form a government with coalition or informal support from the Greens and NDP that would total 27 out of 49 seats. Centre-left groupings would often similarily rule in many provinces and federally under PR. 

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

True...perhaps...but that depends on two probably unreasonable expectations as regards a Liberal Party leader at any level in Canada(it's a moot point for any Conservative leader, because under PR there have generally been next to no situations in which a Conservative minority government could actually have found a viable coalition partner in a minority situation)

1) The expectation that such a leader would ever display foresight, even when her or his own political survival was on the line.  A provincial or federal Liberal leader lives solely in the moment, and is utterly unconcerned with long-term consequences.

2) The expectation that a Liberal leader, especially a post-PET Liberal leader on whose watch the party she or he leads has never had any real connection with the idea of progressive change, would ever agree to increase the pace of such change(or, in most cases nowadays, even reverse the slow swing to the right Liberal governments have been continuously leading since at least 1993), even if doing so meant remaining in power.  This would require a Liberal leader to admit that ideas and direction actually matter, that anyone other than millionaires and billionaires actually matter, and that they might need to treat any party other than their own with actual respect.

A figure like Brian Gallant would rather see his party spend the nexts twenty years out of power than do ANY of that.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

True...perhaps...but that depends on two probably unreasonable expectations as regards a Liberal Party leader at any level in Canada(it's a moot point for any Conservative leader, because under PR there have generally been next to no situations in which a Conservative minority government could actually have found a viable coalition partner in a minority situation)

I am not sure what you mean by this statement. Harper ruled as a de facto majority for years while he only had a minority of government. Sometimes he relied on the Liberals and sometimes and less often he relied on the NDP but he seemed to manage to get an agenda through parliament.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

True...perhaps...but that depends on two probably unreasonable expectations as regards a Liberal Party leader at any level in Canada(it's a moot point for any Conservative leader, because under PR there have generally been next to no situations in which a Conservative minority government could actually have found a viable coalition partner in a minority situation)

I am not sure what you mean by this statement. Harper ruled as a de facto majority for years while he only had a minority of government. Sometimes he relied on the Liberals and sometimes and less often he relied on the NDP but he seemed to manage to get an agenda through parliament.

The differences in that and what I'm talking about are

1) Harper was able to stay power largely due to the fact that the official opposition, the Liberals, were terrified of an early election(or of any election at all, and with good reason) and had decided they would rather be powerless than form an anti-Harper coalition with the NDP and the Bloc;

2) What Harper had was never an actual coalition; that is, he did not share power with any other parties.  No non-Conservative MPs were ever part of a Harper cabinet during the five years he governed in a minority.  To my knowledge, he didn't even make any meaningful concessions to any opposition party in exchange for their support or at least their willingness to abstain on any legislation which might have been a question of confidence.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Minority parliaments do not necessarily mean a coalition government. The BC NDP and BC Greens are not a coalition government but they have an agreement that allows NDP to be the government.

The federal Conservatives and federal Liberals in BC had a coalition party called the Socreds until it imploded but they still managed to reconstitute a coalition called the BC Liberals. The Howe Street backed politicians in this province have no problem understanding that only one party gets to carry the corporate banner when alternatives have a chance of winning.

 

jerrym

Ken Burch wrote:

True...perhaps...but that depends on two probably unreasonable expectations as regards a Liberal Party leader at any level in Canada(it's a moot point for any Conservative leader, because under PR there have generally been next to no situations in which a Conservative minority government could actually have found a viable coalition partner in a minority situation)

1) The expectation that such a leader would ever display foresight, even when her or his own political survival was on the line.  A provincial or federal Liberal leader lives solely in the moment, and is utterly unconcerned with long-term consequences.

2) The expectation that a Liberal leader, especially a post-PET Liberal leader on whose watch the party she or he leads has never had any real connection with the idea of progressive change, would ever agree to increase the pace of such change(or, in most cases nowadays, even reverse the slow swing to the right Liberal governments have been continuously leading since at least 1993), even if doing so meant remaining in power.  This would require a Liberal leader to admit that ideas and direction actually matter, that anyone other than millionaires and billionaires actually matter, and that they might need to treat any party other than their own with actual respect.

A figure like Brian Gallant would rather see his party spend the nexts twenty years out of power than do ANY of that.

Power is a very seductive mistress. If Gallant or another leader saw he would face a similar situation with massive support in some ridings and therefore the highest percentage of the vote but not the highest percentage of seats, and no reasonable chance of changing that in the forseeable future, he, like many leaders, would grab for power using PR, as Gallant tried to do by proposing PR to gain Green support in the legislature. Remember Liberals swing both ways in order to gain their objective - power.