Brian Topp, "How We Almost Gave the Tories The boot"

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West Coast Lefty
Brian Topp, "How We Almost Gave the Tories The boot"

I think it's worth starting a forum on Brian Topp's book about the coalition.  While a lot of the content was previewed by Brian on his Globe and Mail blog a few months ago and discussed on babble at that time, the book is a much more comprehensive account of the brief NDP/Liberal coalition in Nov/Dec 2008.  Full disclosure: I worked with Brian in the Quebec NDP in the early 90s and consider him a friend, even though we disagree on many issues.

The book is an excellent read and raises some key questions about the way forward for the NDP and the broader progressive movement in Canada. As we saw from the blog excerpts (and from his blog generally), Topp is a gifted writer and the reader gets the same adrenaline rush all the way through the book as we all felt during that fateful week when it looked like Layton and the team were going to form a progressive coalition government with Dion and the Liberals.

Along with the breathless recounting of Blackberry-fueled intrigue and insider accounts of key Lib/NDP negotations (the confrontation between Marlene Jennings and Dawn Black over the NDP's right to be in Cabinet is alone is worth the price of the book), Topp is courageous enough to admit his own errors in judgment, including the infamous Elizabeth May debate debacle in the 2008 election campaign, as well as the strategic errors made by the coalition team that helped cause the implosion of the project within 10 days of its inception. 

Overall though, the sense is that Layton and the team did the best they could under difficult circumstances, in a noble attempt to reverse the right-wing direction of Canada's politics over the past 25 years.  Sadly, the particular set of conditions that led to the coalition won't happen again in the forseeable future.  And the Libs have revealed themselves in public under Iggy to be exactly what Topp feared during the coalition process, when they knifed Dion and killed the coalition by voting for Harper's budget with no changes in Jan 2009.

I'll have more to say about the broader questions raised by Topp's book in a separate post.  But by all means, buy this book - a must-read for NDP supports and political junkies alike.




Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

I've thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I do have to quibble with his decision to repeat without question or comment the Bob Rae version of why Bob Rae left the NDP.

For the most part, it has reaffirmed my opinion of the Liberal Party. They either accidentally botched or deliberately sabatoged a historic opportunity. Canada is worse off because of it.


Progressives across Canada are now paying the price for Ignatieff's stupidity. It's hard to believe how far the Liberals have fallen in such a short period of time. Their Liberal egos just got too big for their britches

At one time the Liberals were master strategists now they look less than ordinary with their decisions.

[quote]If he'd taken the coalition, Ignatieff coulda been a contender


Not only did the Liberal Leader miss an opportunity to become PM, he squandered a rare chance to strengthen our democracy[/quote]

Cueball Cueball's picture

What a great title: How we almost gave the Tories the boot!Cool

A one way ticket to Palookaville:

remind remind's picture

All that article indicates to me, is that the Ignatieff, and the Liberals really want the CPC to govern and are doing everything possible to keep it so.


Nothing else makes sense really...