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Accord vs. Coalition

Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

Some opposed to the Coalition have suggested that an accord is a better idea, where the NDP would agree to support a Liberal government for a certain time period under certain conditions and if the Libs renegged on these conditions, the NDP would withdraw its support.  This way it is argued you won't have the NDP joining a Liberal government in exchange for a few Cabinet posts and being silent on key issues like Afghanistan.


Comments

Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

I'd be fine with that. To me, the main goal of this exercise is just what various parties and many popular organizations said during the election: "Stop Harper!" - a slogan which enjoyed a lot (perhaps a majority) of popular support, and which under circumstances of displacing an "elected" government could help energize the popular movements.

I'm not sure whether such an "accord" would pass muster with the Governor-General, but you know, who really gives a damn. She allowed Harper to blatantly avoid a certain confidence defeat, and she has not explained her decision publicly. I'm glad she has a comfy job for now, because someday she may have to explain herself to the people.

All this raises an interesting question: Why did the NDP agree to a coalition rather than an accord? The allure of 6 cabinet seats? The negative perception of supporting a Liberal government without being part of it? Not enough time to think it through?

The above does not mean I won't support a coalition government if that's what the reality is. I will, for the reasons I've stated, and recognizing the risks as I have. But I'd still like to know why the NDP couldn't have played (or still play) the same role as the Bloc - essentially what happened in spring 2005, although without a signed agreement at that time.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Unionist wrote:

But I'd still like to know why the NDP couldn't have played (or still play) the same role as the Bloc - essentially what happened in spring 2005, although without a signed agreement at that time.

I'd be very surprised if the agreement in question was not reduced to writing and signed.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
M. Spector wrote:

I'd be very surprised if the agreement in question was not reduced to writing and signed.

Well, maybe it was written, maybe it wasn't, but I never saw a copy - did you? I did see a copy of the signed agreements this time round.

Regardless of that irrelevant point, did you have an opinion about the thread question?


Webgear
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Joined: May 30 2005

I would think an accord would be a better option than a coalition. For reasons already mentioned in numerous threads by several people, the NDP are now apart of the Liberal party and likely soon to be ruling the country.


Tommy_Paine
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Joined: Apr 22 2001

For me, the distinction matters little.  I was against the coalition because it throws a life line to the Liberals.  If anything, an accord does that even better, so I'd be ag'in it.

The Perterson/Arnold accord in Ontario seemed to do wonders for the Liberal Party, not so much for the NDP.   If we eliminate the recession of the 1980's, Peterson would not have gambled on the early election call, and we'd certainly not have seen the NDP government take office, so I don't think we can point to that accord as any spring board for the Benedict Rae administration.   

It was a springboard for Peterson, however.  But now he and Benedict Rae are united in the same party with Buzz hargrove, and they all detest each other. 

Like I say, there's always a silver lining.


Stockholm
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Joined: Sep 29 2002
My attitude is "in for a penny in for a pound". I'm sick of these so-called accords where the NDP supports the Liberals in exchange for almost nothing and where the Liberals get 100% of the credit for anything popular they do. With cabinet seats, the amount of power the NDP has to influence policy is exponentially greater because every department that has an NDP minister will suddenly become a fiefdome of NDP policies. Imagine the kinds of things that Jack layton could do as Minister of Industry and Infrastructure. Imagine what Charlie Angus could do as Minister of Canadian Heritage? Don't you think we would get vastly more progressive policies in health care with Libby Davies running that department as opposed to some typical Liberal deadbeat like Joe Volpe??? I think that this would be a golden opportunity for the NDP to have actual cabinet ministers showing day in and day out and they can manage and we can make policy.  I've had it with the thankless role of being a silent invisible partner.

M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Unionist wrote:

Regardless of that irrelevant point, did you have an opinion about the thread question?

It's not irrelevant at all.

The thread is setting up a dichotomy between an accord and a coalition. Babblers should be clear on the nature of that dichotomy. It would be wrong to suggest that written or unwritten was one of the essential distinguishing characteristics between them.

My position has been elaborated in several threads. I don't propose to repeat it all here. If any deal or agreement is to be made with a capitalist party like the Liberals it must be on a principled basis. I do not see how a coalition can possibly satisfy that requirement, but I can see how a tactical accord could do so.

I don't see Parliament as being the be-all and end-all of politics, however, and those who want to put all hope of salvation in a parliamentary alliance with the Liberals are bound to be disappointed. To me, political action is primarily extra-parliamentary; I agree with the following passage from Sebastian Lamb's commentary:

Quote:
Relying on a Liberal-NDP government to deliver what people need is a recipe for disappointment. If a coalition government is formed (or if it isn't), everyone who believes that people shouldn't suffer because of a crisis we didn't create needs to mobilize. Now is the time to get organizing in unions, community groups and on campuses. Now is the time to start planning forums where people can come together and discuss campaigns that put demands on the federal government.

We should build campaigns to demand genuine reforms such as a full-scale pro-worker overhaul of EI, the construction of non-profit housing and better public transit systems, the strengthening of public pensions, tough regulations to slash greenhouse gas emissions, status for all, and the nationalization of the banks. Vigorous efforts are needed to oppose every effort to scapegoat unions or immigrants for the crisis, and to call for the immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

In addition to such campaigns, there is also an opportunity for popular education about capitalism. The economic crisis has dealt a huge blow to confidence in the system. Many people are open to discussing the crisis, capitalism and alternatives. Supporters of radical social change shouldn't miss this opportunity.


Brian White
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Joined: Jan 26 2005

I have lived through minority governments and coalitions in Ireland.  In the minority government case, the supporter usually got little credit and they suffered in the next election. I can think of 2 instances, fine gael supporting fianna fail when the economic boom began in ireland (they forced them to be financially responsible but got  badly hit in the next election) and  labour (despite agreement with fine gael) supporting fianna fail another time and suffering in the next election.

In coalition the credit was better shared out.  If the NDP ministers are seen to be responsible and do decent jobs their party will benefit.

And by the way, a few NDP ministers would be a huge tonic for the troops. 

You have not lived through a party breakthrough like that so perhaps you discount it.  People will be floating on air when the NDP ministers get announced and this feeling will be long lasting. 

 My view is that if you are in politics it is pointless to turn up your nose at power. It could be a generation before you get this chance again.  Harper is not turning away from power and neither should you. If you do not take your share of power,  your voters will definitely say  either that you stood aside as they got screwed or the NDP does not have the balls to take power ever! 

Right from the impersonating and faking of the NDP  messages to get lunn elected to the taping of the NDP conference call, the cons are proving to be a pack of cheating bastards. They can not be trusted under Harpers leadership.  Thats the point of the coalition. The Harper rot has gone right through the party and he is quite prepared to foment civil war to keep power for a while.  The cons have a loyal media  to the right wing agenda but not necessarly to harper.  The coalition has to survive at least  until harper is kicked out of the cons on his arse. If they falter now, we, the voters for the ndp, etc will be left to suffer harpers version of thacherism. That will be high unemployment allied to big wage reductions.  That has always been the economic policy of these people. It continues to be.

Webgear wrote:

I would think an accord would be a better option than a coalition. For reasons already mentioned in numerous threads by several people, the NDP are now apart of the Liberal party and likely soon to be ruling the country.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

M. Spector wrote:
I'd be very surprised if the agreement in question was not reduced to writing and signed.

The NDP, and with only 19 seats then, did succeed in having most of that $4.5 billion allocated to areas specified. There was supposed to be $1.5 billion for PSE and job training, but I think it was eventually whittled  down to a little over a billion. This is another reason for having NDP nannies present and accounted for in these closed door government meetings.   

Quote:
Perhaps you were hoping I had stopped using an annoying tag line. You were wrong; you're reading it now. Why not email a moderator to demand that signature/tag lines be abolished forthwith?

Actually yours is the only annoying tagline I've noticed recently. Tongue out


peterjcassidy
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

I suggest an accord, consisting only of an agreement that theLibeals do certain things when they became the government, would not have satisifed the Govenor-General or any other parties.

One problem was defeating the government on the economic update without precipitating an election. Harper has been playing the game of chicken for months, if not years surviving vote after vote of non-confidence by having the Liberals sit on their hands or making a deal wqith the separatists..  This time Haapre went all out with a blatant attack on women, workrs and democracy after Dion had said the Liberals  weren't  going to sit on their hands any more. All the oppositon parties had to vote against the bill and that meant an election unless a replacment PM could be agreed on.And it would take a lot inthis situion to pesuade the govenor-gernal that Harper could be replaed without an eelction.Even with the coaltion as solid s coudl be te deal has not yet been done. Imgaien the problem if all we had was an acord.

 And the NDP and Bloc had to protect heir interests.

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
M. Spector, in another thread you answered some of my questions, saying that a minister is in charge of the ministry, but cabinet can overrule the minister, and the PM can effectively tell the G-G to dump a minister etc. I asked whether you were basing your replies on constitution, statute, or practice. If you or someone else could answer, I'd appreciate it. It might help us assess, from a practical standpoint, the effect of having six cabinet seats.

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

I think that at least one other party has to be there in coalition government to give it a look and feel of legitimacy. The Liberals are a still a swell bunch of guys now and garnered a large percentage of votes, but it was an all time low for them at the same time. Canadians would surely scratch their heads in disbelief with how the opposition Liberals could find themselves taking every cabinet position from the Harpers after receiving fewer votes. As Howie Mandel would say about the rules,  deal or no deal, and-or, coalition or no coalition. The Liberals had their kick at the can for twelve years. It's time for inclusiveness in Canadian politics, even if we do still struggle with a dated electoral system.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Here was M. Spector's post from the previous thread:

M. Spector wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Who does run a ministry?

The minister, who is answerable to the Prime Minister. 

Quote:
Can the Minister hire and fire the Deputy Minister, who (I believe) is the ultimate authority in the sense of giving orders, insubordination, etc.?
Yes. Happens all the time when there's a change of government. 

Quote:
Can the Cabinet overrule the Minister on all issues? On any issue?

Yes.

Quote:
Does the Prime Minister have any legal powers at all, or does the Minister serve at the pleasure of the G-G?

The "pleasure" of the GG is essentially whatever the PM tells her it is. He picks the ministers, shuffles them, fires them, at will. The GG rubber stamps.

I'd still like sources for the above responses, but one quick question: If the Lib-NDP coalition came to power with their signed agreement, could the PM still tell the G-G to turf all the NDP ministers?

 

 


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Presumably people know the question is moot. It is a coalition, and would not survive any tinkering.

However much Layton may have [or not] preferred a Coalition- I think the Liberals demended it. They had, and have, the most to lose if a Coalition comes apart. Stability was required to give it a chance within the Liberal party.


Ze
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Joined: Nov 14 2008

An "accord" seems to give less power, and less credit, to the NDP. If getting into bed with the red team, may as well get some blankets instead of having to sleep halfway on the floor. 

 In Europe, parties in a coalition remain free to criticize the government. Only the people who are actually in cabinet have to maintain cabinet solidarity. It seems to work all right there.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
Ze wrote:

 In Europe, parties in a coalition remain free to criticize the government. Only the people who are actually in cabinet have to maintain cabinet solidarity. It seems to work all right there.

That's how I understand "cabinet solidarity" in Canada as well.

Why would the NDP for example not be free to continue demanding withdrawal from Afghanistan, even if the government (including 6 NDP ministers) does not do so?


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
Unionist wrote:
Ze wrote:

 In Europe, parties in a coalition remain free to criticize the government. Only the people who are actually in cabinet have to maintain cabinet solidarity. It seems to work all right there.

That's how I understand "cabinet solidarity" in Canada as well.

Why would the NDP for example not be free to continue demanding withdrawal from Afghanistan, even if the government (including 6 NDP ministers) does not do so?

That sounds about right to me. Otherwise, there would be no point in showing up for question period or debates.

"We accept that there is no need for NDP MPs to participate in parliamentary debates or questioning the government, we are subserviant and devoted to the 76ers and have complete faith their judgement on everything including three point shots. Declare war on Pakistan and a national holiday in the name of Genghis Khan. It's all good as far as we're concerned."

I dont think so.


janfromthebruce
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Joined: Apr 24 2007

I'm for a coalition govt and not an accord where we are just propping liberals up and they take all the credit. That's what happen with Rae NDP prov govt with Peterson, and after implementing successful NDP programs and policies, called a snap election, and thus Peterson won a majority govt. 

I want a coalition govt. I don't want the NDP in the position of pulling the plug on a Liberal led minority govt and hear forever again, how the NDP was responsible for another liberal minority govt going down the tubes. This is in reference to Martin's liberal minority govt and how the narrative was that it was all the NDP's fault, and only if crap. 

 Nope it a coalition govt. Let Iggy led liberal party pull the plug on the coalition and make them look like they are more interested in their parties success and their jobs rather than Mary and Joe main streeters' jobs.

O

______________________________________________________________________________________ Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!


Wilf Day
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Joined: Oct 31 2002

Stockholm wrote:
I'm sick of these so-called accords where the NDP supports the Liberals in exchange for almost nothing and where the Liberals get 100% of the credit for anything popular they do. With cabinet seats, the amount of power the NDP has to influence policy is exponentially greater because every department that has an NDP minister will suddenly become a fiefdome of NDP policies. . . this would be a golden opportunity for the NDP to have actual cabinet ministers showing day in and day out and they can manage and we can make policy.  I've had it with the thankless role of being a silent invisible partner.

Agreed.

Furthermore, in 1985 the Liberals had to follow the policy outline contained in the Accord, but the NDP had no voice in the details and implementation.

Brian White wrote:

I have lived through minority governments and coalitions in Ireland. . . In coalition the credit was better shared out.  If the NDP ministers are seen to be responsible and do decent jobs their party will benefit.

And by the way, a few NDP ministers would be a huge tonic for the troops. 

You have not lived through a party breakthrough like that so perhaps you discount it.  People will be floating on air when the NDP ministers get announced and this feeling will be long lasting.

I agree with the voice of experience here. 

Brian White wrote:

if you are in politics it is pointless to turn up your nose at power. It could be a generation before you get this chance again.  Harper is not turning away from power and neither should you. If you do not take your share of power, your voters will definitely say either that you stood aside as they got screwed or the NDP does not have the balls to take power ever! 

Looking back at the 1985 Accord, we forced the Liberals to provide the best government Ontario has ever had -- better than Rae's from 1990 - 95 -- and got no credit because we dithered over taking cabinet seats.

Ze wrote:
  In Europe, parties in a coalition remain free to criticize the government. Only the people who are actually in cabinet have to maintain cabinet solidarity. It seems to work all right there.

That would not be a parliamentary system. What country are you referring to?

The Coalition Accord says:

Quote:
This document outlines the key understandings between the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada regarding a new cooperative government. . .
The rules and practices of cabinet confidentiality and solidarity will be strictly maintained. Normal processes of cabinet appointments and governance in the Canadian federal government will be respected. The cabinet is jointly and collectively accountable to Parliament for its work, including in daily question period.

The Bloc, on the other hand, is free to move amendments to government bills, and if it can get the Conservatives to support them they might carry. The NDP might be tempted to support the Bloc amendments but I do not see how they can. Disagreements between the Liberals and NDP will be worked out in cabinet or in the "standing managing committee."


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

KenS wrote:

However much Layton may have [or not] preferred a Coalition- I think the Liberals demended it. They had, and have, the most to lose if a Coalition comes apart. Stability was required to give it a chance within the Liberal party.

Exactly my point.

A coalition is the most advantageous arrangement for the Liberal Party because it ties the hands of the NDP and makes it essentially a rump of the Liberal caucus. The NDP would have been better served by an accord.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Ze wrote:
 

In Europe, parties in a coalition remain free to criticize the government. Only the people who are actually in cabinet have to maintain cabinet solidarity. It seems to work all right there.

I look forward to watching Jack Layton and the other 5 NDP Cabinet ministers squirming in their seats as NDP backbenchers ask tough questions of the government during question period. But somehow I have a feeling that's never going to happen. 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
M. Spector wrote:
KenS wrote:

However much Layton may have [or not] preferred a Coalition- I think the Liberals demended it. They had, and have, the most to lose if a Coalition comes apart. Stability was required to give it a chance within the Liberal party.

Exactly my point.

A coalition is the most advantageous arrangement for the Liberal Party because it ties the hands of the NDP and makes it essentially a rump of the Liberal caucus. The NDP would have been better served by an accord.

So let me understand this.

Layton and Duceppe have been discussing cooperation for some time (as we know from various sources, including their eavesdropped caucus).

After Flaherty's statement, they (or just Layton) approach Dion and say, "let's do an accord. You be the government and we'll sign that we won't defeat you, on condition you agree to some economic points".

Dion replies: "No way! The NDP must join the cabinet - otherwise, no deal! We'll let Harper carry on, take away our funding, rule indefinitely as before!"

Unlikely. Highly implausible. Incredible, in fact.

More likely: The NDP couldn't find a way to justify propping up yet another Liberal minority regime without demanding some share of power.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Unionist wrote:

More likely: The NDP couldn't find a way to justify propping up yet another Liberal minority regime without demanding some share of power.

What I consider extremely unlikely is that, if the NDP were really concerned about the optics of propping up yet another Liberal minority government, they would seek to put themselves in a position where their ability to criticize the Liberal government was severely limited, their leading people would be bound to carry the Liberal government's line in public, and they would be locked in to giving the Liberals a blank cheque on every subject not specifically provided for in the written agreement for a period of 2½ years.

In the circumstances it seems to me the least of their concerns was the optics of supporting a Liberal government.

Perhaps you were hoping I had stopped using an annoying tag line. You were wrong; you're reading it now. Why not email a moderator to demand that signature/tag lines be abolished forthwith?


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

It's the optiks of that annoying tagline. Everyone scram except baird, macKay, and day. I can't hold back much lonnnger.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

M. Spector, you actually believe the Liberals demanded that the NDP join the cabinet as a condition of unseating Harper?

Are you sure you've got your analytical specs on tonight?


V. Jara
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Joined: May 12 2005

Predictably, I'm with Wilf and Stockholm. How many times have NDPers been told people won't vote for them, because "they can't win" or "could never form government?" To most Canadians, a party that never wants to come to power is irrelevant, or as Bob Rae very snootily put it, a protest movement. Now obviously very few of the NDP supporters on this board are swayed by those views, or they'd never vote NDP. That is not a precondition for their, or other NDPers, support, but for the vast majority of Canadians the ability, and to a lesser extent desire, of a party to win is a precondition for their vote. It's like voters saying, "if you don't take this government/governing seriously, why should I take you seriously?"or worse yet "I want be on the winning team (e.g. I only vote for first or second place)."

 Poor logic to be sure, but from experience I can say that that is the level of sophistication of many voters selection process. The NDP having ministers, besides the policy benefits, also provides the opportunity to shatter that paradigm as the NDP as perpetual losers or the perennial laughing stocks of Canadian elections. I doubt it will be a rapid process, but with the NDP in government (or as ministers), I do think it can occur.

As for the situation in Europe, it is slightly different in that these coalition governments have some kind of ProRep. As a result, when ministers of a party perform particularly well, the voting public rewards them by voting in greater numbers not just for them but for their party as well- as the share of the party's vote determines the share of ministers that party can potentially get in the next government. In other words, if people really want to see Lloyd Axworthy or Joschka Fischer returned to cabinet in the same portfolios, they vote for them AND their party somewhere on their ballots to ensure that happens. It remains to be seen whether there would be any such spillover effect in Canada. I think there could be, especially given the novelty that competent NDP ministers (from Alberta and maybe NFLD no less!) could represent.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

No I don't believe that at all.

I believe the Liberals would prefer to have all the cabinet positions.

I believe the only reason they agreed to let the NDP have a (disproportionately small) 25% of the cabinet seats was that it was the price demanded by Layton for handing them a blank cheque for 2½ years. (Maybe he demanded more seats, but Dion bargained him down, who knows?)


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
M. Spector wrote:

No I don't believe that at all.

I believe the Liberals would prefer to have all the cabinet positions.

Sure they would. But it's GG who wants convincing that the NDP and Bloc are onside and will prop up the Liberals for a guaranteed amount of time. And she knows that a Liberals-only gov wont sit well in beer halls across the land, especially since they were already putsched in '06. GG's not wild about a gaggle of boots lining up at her front door at all hours of the night asking her to make perogies. It's monotonous work mashing all that cheese and potatoes when she's half awake.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
Fidel, you finally made me chortle. Thanks. Now I'm off to sleep.

M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

V. Jara wrote:

How many times have NDPers been told people won't vote for them, because "they can't win" or "could never form government?" To most Canadians, a party that never wants to come to power is irrelevant, or as Bob Rae very snootily put it, a protest movement.

The Koalition changes none of this. The NDP stiill "can't win" and "could never form a government" in the eyes of most voters. In fact, by forming a coalition, they merely demonstrate that the only way they can get a whiff of power is by attaching themselves to the Liberal Party.

Why shouldn't voters respond by saying there is no reason to vote NDP if the best they can offer is a Liberal government? They might as well vote for the real thing.

Voters don't just care about "winning" they also care about politics. You would rather not talk about the politics of this situation; you might just as well make the case that the NDP could offer to enter a coalition with Stephen Harper for 2½ years in order to prove to the voters that they really really are serious about wanting power.


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