Coalition government: Even more debate!

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josh

And troubling it is, as the Times points out:

 

"That sentiment was echoed by constitutional scholars, who lamented that the governor general might have created a mechanism that future prime ministers could use to bypass the legislature when it seemed convenient.

“This really has been a blow to parliamentary democracy in Canada,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “It has lowered the status of the elected Parliament and raised the status of the unelected prime minister.”"

 

Of course, the last sentence is precisely what Harper wants, even before this crisis.

Sean in Ottawa

The previous thread is closed. Too bad  as I would have wanted my reply to Vansterdam Kid.

I am trying to be restrained but the point I have been making all along is that we need to be listening to the people and building support for the coalition before trying to seize power with it. Technical political power is fleeting but that power you get from bringing along the people and working with them endures. Vansterdam Kid called me a "Concern troll." Apart from the pathetic insult it betrays a sense of the problem-- people who are unwilling to open their process up to the people and build something real. It is the sense of that behind polls showing over 60% against the coalition and confusion by many who would like to support it.

I was suggesting the politicians back off a little and work on a strategy to bridge that coalition to the people before attempting to take power again rather than abandon the whole thing or run it into the ground with the lack of solid public support and this was taken as an abandonment. This is taken as a kind of trolling (trolling redefined here as disagreeing with Vansterdam Kid rather than the definition of content free provocation for the sake of disruption).

I am inclined to want to spew four letter words at VK, as that was a pointless insult given the time and thought that went into my posts and my support for the coalition as an idea I do not want to see destroyed right now. I disagree with many here now it seems, but my purpose is not to kill the idea but to save it and preserve it for when it may work while building on the conditions that might make it successful. As disagreeable to the down-with-the-ship mentality as it may be, this is not trolling.

VK's remark about "concern trolling" whatever that might be is an attack on open discussion here and a more serious threat to the idea that any bridge can be built beyond the politicians themselves than any disagreement over methods could ever be. To vilify those you disagree with using words like troll is more in line with a Harper way of doing things than it is with the idea of building a movement that has the base and ability to reach out.

Left J.A.B.

That last line from Prof Wiseman needs to be spread far and wide by pro-coalition people.

Left J.A.B.

Sean

I think you are missing the point that people will always be aprehensive about change.  If the coalition holds, the best thing to do is to take power and demonstrate by DOING that a coalition can and does work.  Canadians are inherently suspicious, a majority will never trust a coalition until they see one in action, then they will claim it was something they supported all along. 

 

Walking away now is just plain stupid.  The best course of action, if this is to fall apart, is let the Liberals do it.  Whoever walks away will lose the Harper backlash that is to come and be on the outside looking in. 

 

I hate to be all male violence and such, but if the Liberals do walk away anyone in the future that argues in favour of strategicly voting for the Liberals to stop the Conservatives should be punched in the nose to try and knock some sense into them, not debated.

josh

"the point I have been making all along is that we need to be listening to the people and building support for the coalition before trying to seize power with it."

 

That's not feasible.  You can only try to "seize" power when the opportunity presents itself.  With power, will come support, if things are done the right way.  As for polls, the only poll that counts was the one called an election.  The coalition garnered 62% support and over 50% of the seats.  In a supposed parliamentary democracy, that legitimatizes "seiz[ing] power."

Adam T

I agree with Josh completely.

Two cliched phrases here (that I'm surprised don't seem to have been used already).

 1.In for a penny, in for a pound (ok, maybe this phrase isn't that well known outside of Britain, but it should be).  

2.You can't be a little bit pregnant.

Do the members of the NDP and the Liberals who want to back out of this coalition really think they can just say "oops, heh, we were just kidding.  We didn't really mean it. Let's all just forget about it."?

1.The people who supported either the NDP or the Liberals in the last election and  according to these snap polls are now supporting the Conservatives are obviously mostly doing so because 1.they think this is an 'illegitimate power grab', 2.they think the NDP and the Liberals are willing to 'get in bed with the seperatists'.  Backing off now won't remove those perceptions.  To use another cliched phrase, 'what's done is done'

and by the time of the next election, many of those people will likely still have those sentiments.

My guess is backing off would have two effects

1.It will make the NDP and the Liberals look like complete wimps and jokes.  "You made a grab for power and you didn't even have the guts to stick with it at the sign of the first problem?"  I suspect on taking over, the coalition would receive an immediate bump in support because some people respect those who 'act tough'.

Look at Obama and his backing off of his promise to seek public funding in the general election (yes I know it was a little more complicated than that).  Did his supporters and even many of his opponents (outside of the media talking heads) bash him for this?  Not really.  If anything he gained respect because he showed that he could be ruthless when it was to his advantage.

2.Even more importantly, our dear psycopathic prime minister will be even more emboldened than he is now.  He could do anything he wanted knowing that he'd be able to call an election at any time and get a majority, and at this point, a  landslide majority. 

The only way to stop a landslide majority psycopath Harper government is to take power and change the news.  

1.Those who are still complaining about 'illegitimate government' will sound like sore losers in 6 months time just as the Democrats who bashed George W Bush over it from 2000-2004 did.

2.Their is obviously in Canada a ballot box bump towards the government. We've seen this in the last 3 elections.  I'm sure Stockholm could speak better to this, but there is obviously still a deference to authority in Canada.  I thought it no longer existed in this time of 'challenge authority' but it seems to clearly still exist.   People are supporting the Conservatives to lead during these tough economic times because they trust Harper because he is an economist, even though he is a 3rd rate hack. With the coalition in power, the Finance Minister would be either the well respected Ralph Goodale or the distinguished economist John McCallum.  The trust issue on finances would start to shift immediately.

3.Especially so for the NDP, the've clearly lost the support of many who aren't comfortable with trading principle for power.  Again, backing off and saying "oops, we were just kidding" isn't going to work.  The only way to change that is to get into government and be able to show the hardliners tangible results that would not have been achievable by remaining on the opposition benches. 

Sunday Hat

KenS wrote:

This is certainly interesting.

Rae steps in as Coalition's chief spokesman.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081205.wparlliberals05/BNStory/politics/home

This is pretty classic Bob Rae. He has tons of political skills but lacks the humility to back off his "brilliant ideas" when they're going over like lead balloons. His total faith in his own abilities blinds him to the fact that Canadians don't like this - just like they didn't like the Charlottetown Accord.

In a knee-jerk way this might make sense for his leadership. He's running second and he needs to shake things up. But taking a losing fight (and the Liberal Party has now dropped three points from their historic low) and making it your own isn't going to convince Liberals you're their guy.

 And having the least popular NDP politician in history, a man who is seen by the public as a boob who can't handle the economy, running around the country telling people the coalition is a great idea is a guaranteed recipe for failure.

I was cautiously enthusiastic but the NDP can't sustain this for two months. What's the end game? Harper puts forward a budget that contains everything they're asking for, then - with polls indicating that Canadians overwhelmingly hate the idea - we defeat Harper and install Dion as PM. It's a given he will be an absolutely hideous spokesperson and the Tories will throw everything they have at him, most of which will stick because (again) he's hideously bad. Then the reins will be handed to either Ignatieff (who's already indicated he doesn't want to work with the NDP) or Rae (who may be even more loated than Dion by then). I know New Democrats want influence but influence over an inept unpopular government is not all that much fun or useful in advancing progressive goals (talk to Ontario New Democrats about the 1990s).

And that assumes that when the coalition defeats Harper we're not plunged into ANOTHER election. There's no reason to assume the GG won't simply send us back to the polls - and see Harper gain a majority.

Bottom line: New Democrats and Liberals should step back, tell Harper he's got a chance but that he's going to be kept on a short leash, and that they're ready to defeat him if he pulls any crap. But keeping up the fight for a coalition people don't want is stupid.

Sunday Hat

Adam T wrote:

It will make the NDP and the Liberals look like complete wimps and jokes.  "You made a grab for power and you didn't even have the guts to stick with it at the sign of the first problem?"  I suspect on taking over, the coalition would receive an immediate bump in support because some people respect those who 'act tough'.

Two problems with this.

 1) The reason to back down isn't because Harper "acted tough" it's because the public HATES this.

2) We already look like jokes because we're trying to make Dion Prime Minister and he IS a joke.

3) We will look like really big jokes when Pat Martin and Peter Stoffer and who knows who else go off-side and start mumbling about how dumb this is in the press and we waffle into backing away instead of backing away on our terms.

josh

I wouldn't conclude that the public "hates this" based on questions formulated by a snap poll.  And, even if so, public opinion isn't static.  What it may "hate" in December, it might be more inclined to support in January.  That's why you can't base strategy by simply relying on polls.

Sean in Ottawa

Left Jab, Josh, and Adam:

If you three were the spokespeople of the coalition, I would do exactly what you think I am doing and that is abandon it.

Left Jab-- you want to gamble on the imediate success of the initiative in other words you will sacrifice all on a gambit to get it now and prove the point later. I agreed with that until parliament was shut down. That changed many things and includes the need and time for a different strategy, one that ends the next year in the same place but uses a different road to get there. You seem to want to dismiss any chance that the coalition would fail in spite of the fact that there is every indication right now that the Cons would push for an electionat the end of January rather than anything else and they might get it. Worse, the public is behind them on that and the Governor General is unlikely to go against a PM with popular support behind him even if that support is misplaced. the idea that the Liberals would wear any anger about the coalition if they are the ones to kill it is wishful thinking. In fact it is the NDP that has the most to lose here- it is unfortunate that people here are not getting it because I hate to say it out loud: the NDP has the most to gain and the most to lose here. It is the idea that the third party can play such a role that is on the line and the reality that political uncertainty often results in a polarized electorate where the NDP support runs to the other bigger parties to create a strong government. It was no surprise to me to see the BQ lost no support as the biggest party in Quebec, that the Liberals in spite of their incredible weakness that likely played a big role in killing the imediate application of the coalition lost less support than the NDP. The NDP has an interest in getting policies in place imediately and still can take credit for whatever the Cons put in the budget that we agree with. However the NDP have a long term interest in seeing the coalitionidea work. They are the only party with this interest. They need to protect hat idea and build support for it. Unlike the other parties they cannot run from this in the long term and any damage done to the idea will be extremely devastating to the NDP over time. For this reason the NDP should not be too hasty gambling long-term viability for a very risky short term objective especially one that is tied to the BQ and Dion when this will not always be the case.

In the case of the BQ, must take a principled stand, over time, defending the necessity of including them as they are the legitimate representatives of a substantial number of Quebecers. But to recognize that Dion's leadership is a non-starter for Canadian, as much as we would like to offer an alternative government is essential at this point. We do not need to be tied to the leader of a party that is trying to break their own bonds with him. This present coalition proposal includes Dion as leader and for that, given the other challenges, it can't and won't succeed.

What the NDP needs to do is ditch this present coalition that is tied to a falling star leader and go to the people and build the consensus and support to make this work. In the meantime the Liberals may or may not move on from Dion before May. If they do then we can revisist this idea, especially if we backed away recognizing that Dion is why this cannot work now. If they do not, we work on the idea in communities across the country, with other Liberals and Greens until there is a leader Canadians can accept.

 If we keep pushing, without change a rejected idea, we risk blowing the entire concept rather than the current circumstance. Dion is not an NDP leader and we don't have to go down on the sword for him. Indeed, we could poll and try to build consensus around Layton as leader, I suspect that would fly better than Dion and it would be more in our interest.

Flexible trees bend inflexible ones get torn out by the roots.

Adam T

1."Bottom line: New Democrats and Liberals should step back, tell Harper he's got a chance but that he's going to be kept on a short leash, and that they're ready to defeat him if he pulls any crap. But keeping up the fight for a coalition people don't want is stupid."

Right.  Do anything we don't like and we'll force you to an election where you'll win a landslide majority.  Some leash.

2." 1) The reason to back down isn't because Harper "acted tough" it's because the public HATES this."

So, the public will hate it less if you back down?  As I said, 'what's done is done.'  First of all, the public isn't one giant monolith with all the same opnion. About 60% 'hate' it, or more accurately 'are angry over it' and about 9% would shift their vote to the Conservatives over it.  My belief is that those people aren't going to come back anytime soon.  You don't just forgive and forget a party that you think is making an 'illegitimate power grab' and is 'making a deal with the devil seperatists.'

3."2) We already look like jokes because we're trying to make Dion Prime Minister and he IS a joke."  Stephane Dion is a decent man.  He does not project himself as an 'alpha male' political leader and his english speaking skills are rather poor, but there is no need to make personal jabs like that.  He will also certainly be gone within the next 6 weeks.

4."3) We will look like really big jokes when Pat Martin and Peter Stoffer and who knows who else go off-side and start mumbling about how dumb this is in the press and we waffle into backing away instead of backing away on our terms"

A.You have no terms to back away on, except I suppose by some hardliner somehow overthrowing Jack Layton on the slogan of "we don't compromise our principles for power." 

B.It will take 20 members of the 164 member coalition (including Bill Casey) to back away from supporting the coalition to kill it (less if opposition members decide they will vote confidence with the psycopath Harper Conservatives.)  Again, these are 164 individual people and it is not a surprise that several of them might be offside.  If two members might speak out against it (or afterwards assuming they do) is no practical reason to  change anything.

 

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

josh wrote:

"the point I have been making all along is that we need to be listening to the people and building support for the coalition before trying to seize power with it."

 

That's not feasible.  You can only try to "seize" power when the opportunity presents itself.  With power, will come support, if things are done the right way.  As for polls, the only poll that counts was the one called an election.  The coalition garnered 62% support and over 50% of the seats.  In a supposed parliamentary democracy, that legitimatizes "seiz[ing] power."

It is only not feasible if you are tied to the idea that this is not only your best chance but the only one. I don't subscribe to that point of view.

If you do not have popular support you ahve nothing and Canadians do not want to see Dion as PM- time to accept that and move on befor ethe entire copncept of coalition gets discredited. It is not too late to do this.

janfromthebruce

Left J.A.B. wrote:

Sean

I think you are missing the point that people will always be aprehensive about change.  If the coalition holds, the best thing to do is to take power and demonstrate by DOING that a coalition can and does work.  Canadians are inherently suspicious, a majority will never trust a coalition until they see one in action, then they will claim it was something they supported all along. 

 

Walking away now is just plain stupid.  The best course of action, if this is to fall apart, is let the Liberals do it.  Whoever walks away will lose the Harper backlash that is to come and be on the outside looking in. 

 

I hate to be all male violence and such, but if the Liberals do walk away anyone in the future that argues in favour of strategicly voting for the Liberals to stop the Conservatives should be punched in the nose to try and knock some sense into them, not debated.

I am with left jab here, except for the violent part that only lurks in the hidden recesses of my mind Surprised______________________________________________________________________________________
Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

janfromthebruce

 So sean what did you think of that poll done where it talked about the voters who support libs, NDP, and bloc. Those are our voters and they are very warm to the idea?

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

Sean in Ottawa

Adam if you think Dion will be gone in the next 6 weeks-- then why don't we admit that this coalition will not fly with Dion as leader and come back to it then-- we have seven weeks before we need to be counted on this?

Dump the Dion as leader part and condition the coalition on an acceptable leader and you never know it could end up being Layton. Layton has a better chance of becoming PM seven weeks from now than Dion (as remote as that may be) and the sooner people here recognize that the better. We need to see past Dion.

If we dump the Dion coalition we can get out tehre without a coaltion and start a process of bringing in the people and return perhaps in as little as seven weeks with a new coalition deal with at least a new leader and greater public support. The idea can be maintained by a series of public meetings on our democratic choices hosted by the NDP rather than a doomed coalition. Good chance at the end there will be a new offerign that might be able to take power.

Sean in Ottawa

janfromthebruce wrote:

So sean what did you think of that poll done where it talked about the voters who support libs, NDP, and bloc. Those are our voters and they are very warm to the idea?

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

Which poll? It looks like we are missing between 20 and 25% of our supporters and we have work to do. I am going out on a limb here and suggesting that the Dion factor is a part. But don't get comfortable with that poll's results on the supposed 3/4 support when according to teh poll almost 1/4 are no longer defined as NDP supporters over this-- the 3/4 support is not of those 18% who voted NDP in the last election but of the 14% who say they will still vote NDP now.

 

josh

 

"If you do not have popular support you ahve nothing and Canadians do not want to see Dion as PM- time to accept that and move on befor ethe entire copncept of coalition gets discredited. It is not too late to do this. "

 

 

 

You're conflating two separate points here.  Whether the coalition concept has public support and whether they don't want to see Dion.  In the public mind, they may have merged, but that only means that if the coalition assumes power, a "rally around" effect among a large segment of the public would boost Dion, and thereby the coalition.

 

I do agree, and said so, that the Liberals should have turfed Dion before embarking on the coalition.  But Dion was the same problem before yesterday as he is today.  Whether the coalition sticks together should not depend on Dion.

Bubbles

It would be very nice to see the coalition succeed in neutralizing Harper. If only for the reason that we could then get used to the idea of a coalition government, which to me at least seems like a more democratic government. In that it allows more representative governing.

 

 I find Harpers approach to running a democratic deficit rather troubling, even more so then the current economic troubles. Our economic troubles stem from a lack of confidence in a system that fails to provide for so many. A democratic deficit will only add to this lack of confidence. We need more cooperation in government, not less, and that is what Harper does not seem to manage.

 

That Bob Rae gets involved is probably a good thing, he is a better speaker then Dion. It is funny to read the comments people make about Dion’s speech. I have no TV and listened to the speeches on the radio and to me it seemed that Dion did a better job then Harper. Harper seemed very forced and on autopilot, nearly like one of these automated government answering machines. Layton came across much clearer than either Harper or Dion.

Adam T

"Left Jab, Josh, and Adam:

If you three were the spokespeople of the coalition, I would do exactly what you think I am doing and that is abandon it."

(I suppose I should start using the quote thing but I have to go in a few minutes).

I can understand your sentiment.  You are a New Democratic Party supporter and I'm not and obviously you are seeing many of what I call the 'hardliners' abandoning your party over this.  I'm sure you didn't need an opinion poll to tell you that would happen either. 

Obviously you expect that many of those 'hardliners' would come back to the party if it backed down and you might well be right.  The problem is that it would also guarantee a large Harper majority government at the next election, and I have no doubt that he would force an election in a very short period of time.  His obvious line would be to argue "this opposition stunt has shown why Canada needs to be governed by a majority party at this time."

 Once back in power his first act would be to remove the federal funding for political parties. After that, he'd have four years to implement his psycopathic agenda.

2."The NDP has an interest in getting policies in place imediately and still can take credit for whatever the Cons put in the budget that we agree with."

Harper will give you absolutely nothing. 

 

Sunday Hat

Ipsos: CPC 46, LPC 23, NDP 13, BQ 9, GPC 8 Ekos: CPC 44, LPC 24, NDP 15, BQ 9, GPC 8 These are the polling numbers for the parties this week. The Liberals are down. The NDP is way down and the Conservatives are up. And while it's true that polls are a snapshot I'm not sure I see an underlying trend or an argument that turns things in favour of the coalition. The Conservatives will continure to attack with two arguments that resonate well: this is a deal with "separatists" and Stephane Dion will be Prime Minister. Our counterarguments don't resonate as well: Harper seems contrite about his failure to create a stimulus package and until his budget comes down people seem to be accepting that. Canadians support removing funding for political parties by shocking margins. What other arguments do we have for coalition and what evidence do you have that people will rally to them?

KenS

As was pointed out, its not at all established yet that the public is going to continue preffering Harper over the Coalition.

True, things may not turn and it may have to be backed away from. But it isn't going to be known whether this will work until after it has been pushed no holds barred. There is time to BOTH push, and to back off if that isn't working.

And Sean is holding up an option that does not actually exist. The time to vote Harper down is when the House resumes. Any later and it has to be figured that non-confidence means election. And the Coalition will fly apart anyway the first time there is a vote with the government.

Lastly- there is no point for Dippers to debate the point. If we arrive at the point where it is clear that this Coalition is unlikely to be able to make it, the Liberals will have already caved in. They are the weak link: let them debate it, and let them wear it if it goes down.

Left J.A.B.

Sean you are still missing the point.  You can't put the soup back in the bowl once it is on the floor. 

There is no more of a chance of an election in January than there was yesterday.  There is also no less of a chance.  That was always a gamble frankly.  Harper's decision to prorogue rather than face a confidence should make it less likely he would get dissolution- although obviously that is not a certainty.

 

The only option open to the NDP once this door was opened is to go full steam ahead.  There may be a need to actually figure out a way to do a electoral coalition as well as much as I know that makes some partisans freak out.  Turning back now will hand Harper a defacto majority from now on, only it will be NDP that will have to eat crow, not just the Liberals. 

 

It is also not clear to me that 'the public' is totally opposed.  In FPTP you don't need everyone to vote for you, you simply need just enough.  The regional numbers for anger are very skewed.  There is only one more seat available in Alberta for instance so winning the others by an increased mandate gets you exactly bumpkus.   The polls actually show that Canadians are close to equally divided on the issue.  Sure some have moved towards the Conservatives in an immediate POLL, but that is simply a reaction to seeking stability so government is the default.  To say this has been a disaster or is a bust is simply not having the courage of conviction.  What if Tommy Douglas had said screw it, a lot of loudmouthed people are really angry about universal health care?  Where would we be.  He got into government first - laid the ground work and then risked it all on trying to succeed. 

It is the cowards way to pick a fight with the bully and then back out because the Principal kept one of you late after school.  The thing is the bully will be back the next day and the next and the next.  At some point you have to hold your ground and fight.  This is that time.  Otherwise you might as well by a bulk supply of chocolate bars to bribe the bully so he doesn't soil your virtue.

 

Edit to add

I think we will find the Liberals will take care of the 'Dion problem' long before Parliament resumes sitting.

Adam T

I'd like to read all the comments that have been posted here in the last few minutes, but I really have to go.

Sean

"

Adam if you think Dion will be gone in the next 6 weeks-- then why don't we admit that this coalition will not fly with Dion as leader and come back to it then-- we have seven weeks before we need to be counted on this?" 

 

I'd assumed it was a given.   As to the other part, there is no way Jack Layton will lead the coalition.  There is absolutely no credible argument for that (unless he joins the Liberals  and they elect him leader).  Only the leader of the largest coalition party could be seen as an even remotely credible leader in the eyes of many Canadians.

 I see JanfromtheBruce and I have pretty much the same ideas on all of this.  I suppose the biggest criticism of our position is that we are thinking pretty much in the short term.  If the public doesn't warm to the idea of the coalition and its legitimacy and it takes power, we could be in the opposition for a minimum of 10 years after the next election.  

If we back off now, it means a huge majority for Harper in the next election (which is I've said, expect an election within a few months, maybe before the May Liberal leadership convention (if they haven't installed a permanent new leader by then), which he would likely excuse as 'payback' for Chretien forcing his party to the polls before Stockwell Day was ready.)  But four years after that most people will probably have  forgotten all about all of this.  Of course, we'll lose the $1.95 per vote.  

All opposition parties need to do a much better job fundraising (and so do the Conservatives for that matter).  If the Democratic Party can raise well over $1 billion for the last election, the successors of the Liberals and probably the NDP should be able to raise more than $10 million combined.   

And I do mean 'successors'. I don't know about the NDP but the Liberals are heavily in debt with loans that were guaranteed by the $1.95 vote.  Without that, the Liberals will almost certainly have to declare bankruptcy.  And this is even before the next election that will likely take place in the next 6 months, certainly neither the NDP or the Liberals will be able to guarantee loans for that election on the basis of the $1.95 per voter.

An 

Left J.A.B.

KenS wrote:

Lastly- there is no point for Dippers to debate the point. If we arrive at the point where it is clear that this Coalition is unlikely to be able to make it, the Liberals will have already caved in. They are the weak link: let them debate it, and let them wear it if it goes down.

 

Exactly!  There is a significant portion of the public that supports toppling Harper.  That number will grow.  Let the Liberals wear screwing up and leaving Harper in power.

josh

"If the Democratic Party can raise well over $1 billion for the last election, the successors of the Liberals and probably the NDP should be able to raise more than $10 million combined."

Agree.  The left in Canada need to emulate the liberal/left in the U.S.'s use of the internet.  Both in terms of fundraising and in combating the right-wing echo machine of hate radio and low brow newspaper chains.

 

Adam T

"Lastly- there is no point for Dippers to debate the point. If we arrive at the point where it is clear that this Coalition is unlikely to be able to make it, the Liberals will have already caved in. They are the weak link: let them debate it, and let them wear it if it goes down."

I don't agree. I think there are weak links in both parties.

I've explained above why I think the NDP is a weak link.  In the snap polls, they are the party that has lost the most support.  Most of their supporters probably don't care for the demonization of the Bloc and are probably educated enough on parliamentary procedure to know that this isn't 'an illegitimate grab for power'.  

My guess is the majority of the New Democratic Party supporters who have dropped their support according to these snap polls are doing so because they are uncomfortable with putting 'power ahead of principle'.

Back away from the coalition and most of that support should come back within a short period of time.  It may mean the end of Jack Layton though. 

josh

"there is no point for Dippers to debate the point. If we arrive at the point where it is clear that this Coalition is unlikely to be able to make it, the Liberals will have already caved in. They are the weak link: let them debate it, and let them wear it if it goes down."

Word.

Left J.A.B.

NDP voters are no smarter than anyone else sorry to say and no less susceptable to french-baiting, lies and manipulation.  Those that left are no more likely to be hardliners as they are just nervous nellies.  As well, we have no idea if this isn't where the numbers were at anyway given the usual honeymoon period most governments receive with a slight stability bump in confusing times.  Reading these tea leaves is about as useful as gutting a chicken and deciding that the entrails tell you something.

Stockholm

The public has a very short attention span. Monday, the PQ is set to be crushed in the Quebec election. Meanwhile the economic news is getting worse and worse. How things will be in late January is like imagining how things will be in the 22nd century!

I'm not sure what this all means for the NDP - I suspect that the segment of NDP (and Liberal) voters who have peeled away in the last three days - are NOT "hardliners" on the far left who are pissed off at the idea of the NDP making compromises with other parties on any issues - if anything that crowd are the ones that tend to egg us on to "Stop Harper at all cost!". I thikn that the people who have temporarily fallen away are middle of the road swing voters in more lower-middle class milieus who are just panicking at the sight of screaming headlines like "constitutional CRISIS" and "alliance with separatists (sic.)" - in a time of crisis a segment of the population's kneejerk reaction will be to defer to authority. How those people will feel after the Xmas holidays is anyone's guess.

JeffWells

KenS wrote:

Lastly- there is no point for Dippers to debate the point. If we arrive at the point where it is clear that this Coalition is unlikely to be able to make it, the Liberals will have already caved in. They are the weak link: let them debate it, and let them wear it if it goes down.

I'd just like to add my amen to that as well.

The NDP has shown great discipline under Jack, regardless of the polls, and it's on terrific display right now as the Liberals again panic and divide, and likely capitulate and call it a "victory." After the Liberals crumble, then is when Jack can wash his hands. 

janfromthebruce

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
janfromthebruce wrote:

So sean what did you think of that poll done where it talked about the voters who support libs, NDP, and bloc. Those are our voters and they are very warm to the idea?

 

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

Which poll? It looks like we are missing between 20 and 25% of our supporters and we have work to do. I am going out on a limb here and suggesting that the Dion factor is a part. But don't get comfortable with that poll's results on the supposed 3/4 support when according to teh poll almost 1/4 are no longer defined as NDP supporters over this-- the 3/4 support is not of those 18% who voted NDP in the last election but of the 14% who say they will still vote NDP now.

Found today at Toronto Sun. Read the article and comment."An exclusive poll for Sun Media by Leger Marketing shows 78% of identified Liberal voters would have preferred a three-way coalition rather than an election had the Tories been defeated in the House of Commons. Only 13% favoured an election....
Fifty-seven percent of NDP supporters also liked the coalition, but one-quarter did not. That suggests, said Scholz, that many would rather have held another election than simply transfer power from one group to another.

Bloc Quebecois backers were happiest with the idea of a coalition: 79% favoured it over an election, whereas only 8% disagreed."

 

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

Adam T

"I'm not sure what this all means for the NDP - I suspect that the segment of NDP (and Liberal) voters who have peeled away in the last three days - are NOT "hardliners" on the far left who are pissed off at the idea of the NDP making compromises with other parties on any issues - if anything that crowd are the ones that tend to egg us on to "Stop Harper at all cost!". I thikn that the people who have temporarily fallen away are middle of the road swing voters in more lower-middle class milieus who are just panicking at the sight of screaming headlines like "constitutional CRISIS" and "alliance with separatists (sic.)"

 

Fair counter argument, you could be right. 

 It is interesting though that according to these snap polls (and given the margins of error and all that) that the NDP has lost more support both in real terms and certainly in percentage terms than the Liberals.  I suppose that could be because the Liberals were already at a very low base.

 

"The NDP has shown great discipline under Jack, regardless of the polls, and it's on terrific display right now as the Liberals again panic and divide"

I'd just like to point out this is purely based on rumors. There is obviously concern in the Liberal caucus with the idea of Stephane Dion leading this coaltion and probably a consensus that he has to go within the next few days, but I haven't heard of more than 2 or 3 Liberals M.Ps who have made comments to the effect that they'd like to back off of the coalition itself.

Anything beyond that is purely rumor and most of it is almost certainly being spread by Conservatives and their right wing media supporters (which is the entire media in Canada save for the Toronto Star and the CBC and the Globe and Mail, which is conservative but independently so  . For instance, they called on Stephen Harper to step down.) 

 If you have specific names and specific comments of Liberal MPs that say otherwise, please quote them and correct me, otherwise I don't see any benefit of spreading this piece of what is likely nothing more than Conservative Party propaganda. 

Sean in Ottawa

Left Jab- it is not that I "am missing the point"--  we don't agree.

I am saddened by the inability to convince people here that it is a good idea to get public input. I feel our broader movement is doomed if we do not recognize that necessity. No wonder people believe politicians are out of touch when people call it a sell-out and cowardly to go to the people and build support.

Frankly I do get it I see your point of view but am disgusted by the arrogance behind it-- that we could think we could make history without public support.

 I never said we should abandon the idea-- I did say we should hold off on toppling the government now a few months of not havign teh $1.95 won't kill us and it can be restored when we can take power. Full steam ahead towards a conflict not only with the Cons but with the Canadian people is stupid. Especially stupid when we have already 7 weeks of free time to go about what I suggested without any option of full steam ahead anyway. By the time we have a second kick at this in late January we might have been able to have finished the process I proposed-- this is like an election campaign and a lot can be changed in a campaign excepting this is not about selling a completely preformed position but crafting support for an idea that peopel know little about and may want to put in some input. We need to show that we are ready to listen. The public is interested and if they had a role in developping the terms for the proposal we will place inthe hands of the GG 7 weeks from now they may support it. And in the meantime Dion has to go-- I do not beleive that Layton has a real chance of leading thecoalition- but I think his chance is better than Dion's- in other words Dion's day is over. We need to work on what comes after or we all get buried.

If we waste the seven weeks pretending we can go full steam ahead we will not be ready to put something forward that will have borad public support if the budget is very bad as it may be. If we cannot do that there will be an election because we will not be able to vote for a bad budget and without a widely supported alternative Harper will win a majority.

We need to go to the people in a series of townhalls and build a coalition in the way we could not a couple weeks ago when there were only days to speak in back rooms. Now we have weeks to speak in public. We may come close to the deal that was there before with just two major difference-- the subtraction of Dion and the addition of public understanding and support.

Seven weeks is not a long time to do this-- if we debate about this too long it just won't happen andwe will put a proposal that will result in an election call rather than one that the public will have given enough support towards that the GG can support it as well or the public will support at the polls rather than runnign to Harper.

The coalition needs to improve its communications and that has to be two way and replacing Dion with Rae as spokesperson is not enough.

 Frankly I could say it is others giving up by going with a dead proposal when I am saying lets keep working it to be a workable one-- perhaps in time for the budget vote.

Charybdis

Polls are a snapshot. We need to get over that and engage in what politics is ultimately about: transforming public opinion.

 Of course issues will only be part of it. We do need to see the coalition carried beyond the walls of Parliament into electoral arrangements that prevent Libs/NDPers and perhaps even Bloquistes from slitting each others throats.

The Libs do need to get a new leader post-haste. I would prefer Rae but if its Iggy that's ok too. Given Dion's performance I'm even prepared to see a draft Eugene Whelan campaign. But Dion has to go and he should take with him al-qaeda's camera crew who did such a good job fiming his response to Harper. Without a new leader for the Libs there is no point whatsoever in pressing ahead with the idea of a coalition going into an election.

We also need to do a better job of shaping the superficial discourse of politics that does so much to shape the political landscape. We need to make the issue "Harper is a coward" (we've gone far enough with Harper is a bully. People get it and don't care about it anymore) and "Harper hates Qubecers." 

 But more than anything else this is a matter of work on the ground in terms of creating an electoral peace treaty amongst the coalition parties. An election is imminent (the GG will certainly give in on this one too since it is clear her advisors have told her that the bottom line constitutional standard is that she must follow the PM's advice). We need to get this deal done now. So forget about eating turkey, let's talk turkey and get this finished.

Peter3

"I think the best thing the NDP can do now is back out of the coalition and tell Canadians they made a mistake - say they are willing to negotiate with Harper. " 

How sad that this has even been posted, never mind debated.

 The coalition was proposed as a response to irresponsible ideological adventurism from a minority government in a time of serious economic risk.  It was a bold, creative blow from parties that shared, for the moment at least, a commitment to action for reasons that are not easily explained to politically-unaligned Canadians while demagogues and thugs are screaming over top of the conversation.  The situation is unsettling, the proposed coalition is a major departure from the norm and people are looking for something familiar as an anchor in the storm. These polls, if you believe them, say that people don't like what Mr. Harper did, but they are unwilling to buy into something they aren't convinced of (yet) as the solution.

Joining a coalition carries serious risks to everyone involved.  That's life.  That's politics.  If risk is something you want to avoid, take up macrame.

If anybody had told me two weeks ago that I would soon be arguing in favour of a coalition with Liberals, I might not have bothered even to laugh, so stupid would the idea have seemed.  Well, here I am.  Ain't life strange?

Why?  Because a threat needed to be countered, and this is the best way to do it.  Coincidentally, there is an opportunity to put a stake through the heart of a politician who is arguably the most evil bastard ever to occupy 24 Sussex Drive. 

Nobody can back out of this now without paying a heavy price.  The Conservatives backed out of their economic update only because any other move was suicide, but their climb-down will ultimately cost them hugely.  It is an admission that they screwed up, and screwing up in a time of crisis marks a politician as incompetent in ways that never wash off.

Polling in this sort of situation tells a person nothing useful.  This is a battle of beliefs, and it has just started.  Pulling out now will be an admission of failure, a sign of weakness and a condemnation of the NDP as a party of dithering boobs for whom politics is an intellectualized parlour game.

The only thing that is certain to bring long-term negative consequences is a failure of nerve.  This situation calls for some serious commitment from partisans. Make yourself useful or, please, respectfully, shut up and get out of the way.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

When he was on Don Newman's Politics the constitutional expert Ratushny thought the GG made the right call this time around. He also made some other remarks which may have been disguised partisanship but are, perhaps, worth repeating anyway. The horse is out of the barn but Ratushny suggested that the Coalition need not have let the public know that they had formed. They could have waited until AFTER the vote and THEN let the GG know that they were ready to govern. The Coalition gave Harper a target and now he has time to take aim at them. 

 

I have very strong doubts about the Opposition Parties providing the Conservative junta with any assistance whatsoever. They should stick to the position that this regime cannot be trusted, that the PM in particular has demonstrated a congential habit of lying to get what he wants, and that the only long lasting remedy is to replace this regime. 

 

BTW, how were the rallies last night? 

CanadianAlien

Quote:
Bubbles It would be very nice to see the coalition succeed in neutralizing Harper. If only for the reason that we could then get used to the idea of a coalition government, which to me at least seems like a more democratic government. In that it allows more representative governing.

I think this is what attracts people to the idea of coalition - it is antithesis of what Harper offers.

Quote:
Left J.A.B It is the cowards way to pick a fight with the bully and then back out because the Principal kept one of you late after school.  The thing is the bully will be back the next day and the next and the next.  At some point you have to hold your ground and fight.  This is that time.  Otherwise you might as well by a bulk supply of chocolate bars to bribe the bully so he doesn't soil your virtue.

Aside from the attraction of more democratic representation that coalition offers, this is another reason to continue ... Harper will pathologically and relentlessly attack until opposition is neutralized.  There can be absolutely no doubt of that.  

Quote:
janfromthebruce Found today at Toronto Sun. Read the article and comment."An exclusive poll for Sun Media by Leger Marketing shows 78% of identified Liberal voters would have preferred a three-way coalition rather than an election had the Tories been defeated in the House of Commons. Only 13% favoured an election.... Fifty-seven percent of NDP supporters also liked the coalition, but one-quarter did not. That suggests, said Scholz, that many would rather have held another election than simply transfer power from one group to another.

wtf kind of conclusion is that ??  The opposite is true ...  many would rather have simply transferred power from one group to another than have another election!  Libs (78% of identified Liberal voters would have preferred a three-way coalition rather than an election. Only 13% favoured an election.
) and NDP (Fifty-seven percent of NDP supporters also liked the coalition, but one-quarter did not.) 

The oppositiion needs to keep united against Harper even if GG allows election in Jan, and Harper returns with minority (if it is a majority we are all f'd).  Its the only way to have their voices heard, never mind survive.  n best case scenario GG offers gov to coalition.

 

remind remind's picture

KenS wrote:
Rae steps in as Coalition's chief spokesman.

 

Rae's aggressiveness yesterday was certainly notable. But there appears to be even more to it. And I had already guessed that Brison's similar aggressiveness for the Coalition last week was not a coincidence.

Rae and Brison both have roles within the Liberal party, and the Liberal party in turn is behind the Coalition. That the Libs are clearly not unified in their resolve does not stop Rae and Brison and whoever else wants to jump in from having a mandate and a bully pulpit to go full tilt.

The Liberals will pay a price, internally as well as with the public, to cave in. And the more Rae and others are out on the hustings, the bigger that price gets. The naysayers are left whispering in the hallways. That doesn't make them toothless. But they are disadvantaged.

Now this is actually very interesting, because here on the 6pm news yesterday, they covered a big question and answer session with Rae.

My non-political partner fell in love with him. Seriously! He loved everything he had to say, and loved his attitude, and responses to the press. He turned to me after the news report, and said; "wow, who is that guy, and where did he come from, I would vote for him in a heart beat"? I had really big eyes over that one. And even bigger ones when he sent the Liberals an email, on his own, demanding that they get rid of Dion, and put Rae into place, and told them he would even send them money to support their colaition efforts if Rae headed it. (will have to redirect that money me thinks Wink ) Moreover, I did not give him too much information on Rae, as if my life partner, is going to go out and speak up the coalition with his group of non-political friends, I do not want to influence the process.

Then the news later on last evening had coverage of the huge coalition demonstration in Vancouver with Herb and Peter on it, and my partner got excited about the coalition if these 3 men were in on it. He absolutely loathed Dion and could not believe he would be PM, so was not in fact supportive of the coalition and refused to put a "I am part of the 62% majority" sign in his truck window. He now is, and went out and put the sign up, apparently because he believes Dion has faded from the scene.

 I am with cue, totally on this issue. The coalition must become
quietly firm, and forge ahead being happy that all will go well in the
future. We all need to give the coalition calm happy support.

The powers that be would love nothing more than the
coalition to fade away. And will try to work towards that by sewing
seeds of "it can't work". However it can and should!

The pundits
do not like what Harper did, but their quest for total domination, with
no opposition for a generation, at least, is too appealing to trash Harper.

Moreover, I do not believe the polls are correct, and I believe they were hopelessly skewed, and deliberately so.

1.
There were too many people activated last night in Vancouver to support
the coalition, to suggest that the polls were correct. If there is that
many in Vancouver, there is the same or more elsewhere.

2. Yesterday morning the anti-colaition protestors at Rideau Hall were actually found out to be CPC staffers.

3.
There is too much effort being put into saying that the coalition must
die. Obviously, some, and indeed many, power brokers are threatened
that their power will come tumbling down because of it. 

4. Harper cannot be allowed to continue, he is too dangerous for our democracy, we won't have one if he stays in power.

Having said that, perhaps it is expedient to let Harper think the coalition is gone, and perhaps even the general public too, as then any negative press by Harper against the NDP, Bloc and Liberals over Christamas and into the New Year, would look pretty damn foolish and mean spirited. In this way we all could quietly go about talking the need for it up amongst our friends and family and further build grass root support.

Backing off now is not an option, or in the not too distant future, we will have to be fighting in the streets against the "over lords".

___________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

CanadianAlien

My Vancouver rally pix and comments on this thread

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I take that the spirit of your remarks are, at least in part, for the Coalition not to provide the Harper regime with any more juicy targets. The Conservative regime has clearly demonstrated an utter failure of imagination to address the current economic crisis. Of their own evil doing, compliments of Harper, they have shut down Parliament. While taking aim at any new fresh targets, they pretend to want to work together with the Opposition.

 

The Conservatives will have to face the music in January. They can run but they can't hide. Once they stop running, they will be much easier targets to pick off. Keep your powder dry. 

Left J.A.B.

I am more convinced now than I ever was that we need a coalition and we need to do everything possible to make one work, even if that includes an electoral coalition to.   I know that will upset many here, but I just had an experience that makes me believe we are in serious, serious trouble thanks to Harper.

 So here's what happened.  I needed a part and went to town to get it.  While there I thought heck I might as well grab lunch.

I went into the local restuarant to listen to a bunch of usually normal people involved in a discussion with some new loud mouth.  He was going on about how we should be hanging those separatists instead of putting them in government and was calling them every racist term he could come up with.  People were eating it up.  He then was going on about how from now on the goal will be to come in 2nd and that the 'f**cking French" will be running the country for ever.  The hatred and hostility was thick and sickening.  I expect that scenes like this are happening across the country.  There was no thought given that others might be offended by it- which they were- and more than just me.  I couldn't help but intercede and I have rarely encountered that kind of aggression.

 

Harper, in a bid to save his own skin, has peeled back a scab only lightly covering some of the very unsavioury underbelly of this country.  The implications are very long term, especially if the economy continues to tank.  We can't let this kind of behaviour win the day.  Partisan considerations have to be set aside.  Harper must be repudiated or this kind of race baiting.   It simply must be done whatever the mechanism.

KenS

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Left Jab- it is not that I "am missing the point"--  we don't agree.

I am saddened by the inability to convince people here that it is a good idea to get public input. I feel our broader movement is doomed if we do not recognize that necessity. No wonder people believe politicians are out of touch when people call it a sell-out and cowardly to go to the people and build support.

Frankly I do get it I see your point of view but am disgusted by the arrogance behind it-- that we could think we could make history without public support.

 

You are misunderstanding or mischaracterising the difference. I'd assume the former, except for the choice of words like 'disgusted' and portraying others as arrogant.

You are portraying as essentially normative that is a difference in understanding the organizational dynanic and what is required.

 Who is against getting public input? Straw person.

There isn't remotely time for the kind of fully and formally consultative process that you advocate. Nor is it required.

There is just enough time to organize showing some leadership. If people like it they'll approve and some will get on the bandwagon. Its not like there isn't background to all this.

If they don't like it, they won't.

You talk as if there are two options: pack it in now, or damn the torpedoes and go straight ahead no matter what. It isn't like that.

 

If Canadians don't get behind this then the Coalition will effectively dissolve well before the confidence vote. Let alone what people in the NDP will want to do- it is impossible for the Liberals to move forward if things just stay the same as they are now. It just won't happen.

 So your downside risk is overwrought. The worst that is going to happen is that your approach of stepping back is taken later instead of now: no substantial difference.

But why start out giving up?

Sean in Ottawa

Peter3 wrote:

"I think the best thing the NDP can do now is back out of the coalition and tell Canadians they made a mistake - say they are willing to negotiate with Harper. " 

How sad that the debate here is so polarized that it is being made out to be a choice between this and full speed ahead. Both are disasters.

We can admit a problem with the coalition -- Dion's leadership.

We can make room and build the vehicles for public input and build something stronger and we can do that during the parliamentary lockout.

Let's stop being so simplistic that we have to go with a complete backdown and repudiation of what remains a good idea or take an inflexible damn the torpedoes approach to seeing the idea through even as it is losing a realistic chance of success.

I think some things are clear:

1) this particular deal is not going to fly as is.

2) there is enough support for the deal and enough concern about Harper that it is probably that public support can be brought to this (minus Dion and plus openess and public participation) to have something else work. The Coalition needs to demonstrate that it is a last resort and it is listening to the public- it also needs to work to educate the public. These are the conditions of success-- without them this will fail.

 

Sean in Ottawa

KenS wrote:

Who is against getting public input? Straw person.

There isn't remotely time for the kind of fully and formally consultative process that you advocate. Nor is it required.

I guess this is where we disagree. I have seen amazing things put together in a short time.

I believe this is not a straw man but THE point-- you also are contradicting yourself saying you disagree with it but it is a straw man-- people do not disagree with straw man arguments- that's the point.

There is little time to bring in the public but we need to use these 7 weeks to show a massive effort to do so and we may not get an ideal amount of participation but we can get enough if we ask. By enough, I mean enough to put this idea back into a winning position by January. We cannot stand still while the ground moves beneath our feet.

I am not the one giving up-- I am saying we can get the pieces we are missing to pull this off- it is others here like yourself saying it cannot be done.

In a democracy there is a point to building public support and communicating interactively with the public. 

 

Peter3

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
The Coalition needs to demonstrate that it is a last resort and it is listening to the public- it also needs to work to educate the public. These are the conditions of success-- without them this will fail.

I have no idea why you would quote me quoting somebody else in another thread (now closed), but just to be crystal clear, I have never advocated and do not advocate either that we need to throw in the idea of a coalition, or that the coalition cannot be fine-tuned in various ways, including changing leadership personalities. The quote I clipped from a thread started by Parkdale High Park is such awful advice, that I wondered whether the poster might not be a Conservative troll.

My one and only point was and remains that the NDP has committed itself and cannot back down without paying a huge price that it simply cannot afford.  By all means find ways to make this thing work.  We have some time to get details right.

The notion that the coalition could ever be a static construct that remains immutable in the face of events, or that anyone has ever suggested such a thing is absurd. Frankly, much of the self-styled debate about this is intellectualized nit-picking that serves no useful purpose. 

We're in until the thing is seen through or dies at somebody else's hand.  If one of the other parties wants to wear bringing it down, that's something we can work with.  What we will never live down is being the agent of the coalition's destruction.  Apologizing for it, as the author of the above quote also suggested, would be suicidal.

Sean in Ottawa

I tried to edit out your name-- I was addressing the quote-- I thought becuase the quote marks were there people would see that it did not come form you-- did not mean to confuse. I think this quote is from this thread actually.

 that said- without bringing it down we can be seen as taking it to the next step transforming it into a people's initiative a movement if you will rather than a political back-room offering. that is not nitpicking

Parkdale High Park

So I have been asked to address my arguments to the general coalition debate. You might want to take a look at the latest COMPAS poll - things have moved even more against the coalition.

 

If an election were held today:

CPC: 51 (53 in On, 32 in PQ, 62 in west)

LPC: 20 (24 in ON, 19 in PQ, 13 in west)

NDP: 10! (12 in ON, 10 in PQ, 7! in west)

BQ: 8 (35 in PQ)

http://www.compas.ca/data/081205-CommonsTurmoil-EPCB.pdf

But I realize there is genuine support in the idea of a coalition here, so I will try to address my arguments to coalition supporters. The governor-general, faced with these kind of numbers (2-1 opposition to the coalition) is substantially more likely to call an election should a VONC pass. That election will go badly for the coalition members, but I urge you to consider something bigger.

The governor-general's decisions don't just follow precedents, they CREATE precedents. By pushing for a coalition at the worst possible time you risk creating a precedent that coalition government in Canada is illegitimate. That doesn't just mean you fail now, it means you fail for at least the next few decades, in a period of likely minority government. That is bad for Canada - I have no problem with coalition governments (though they are inherently unstable in a westminster system where small shifts in public opinion yield large seat changes, causing rapid divergence in the electoral incentives of coalition members), but I do have a problem with this one.

If you genuinely want a future where coalition governments can happen, save face. Doing so and losing the precedent of parliamentary supremacy gives Harper a permanent negotiation advantage because he knows the opposition would be unable to unite against him - he would only ever have to compromise if he thought he would lose an election and could govern indefinitely so long as a hard core base of 33% of kept re-electing him. 

Make this a long term project and strike when you know you can win.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Ed Broadbent, in today's Globe, wrote:
Since first being elected to the House of Commons in 1968, at a time of great national unity, I have never witnessed a Canadian prime minister consciously decide to disunite the nation. Until now.

After failing to bring forth an essential stimulus package last week, Stephen Harper has betrayed the fundamental obligation of a prime minister: to build and strengthen national unity in possibly the world's most difficult federation to govern.

Beginning last week, Mr. Harper has sought to avoid a legitimate vote of confidence and its unpleasant consequences not by sober or even merely partisan constitutional arguments but, culminating in Wednesday's television address, by a barrage of deliberately gross distortions. He is turning a serious dispute over the need for immediate economic stimulus into an unrelated and dangerous matter of national unity....

Now, for the first time in our history, we have a prime minister prepared to set a fire that we may not be able to put out, for the paltry purpose of saving himself from a confidence vote on Monday. In almost every sentence, paragraph and page coming from Mr. Harper, his ministers and Conservative MPs, we're getting distortions intended to delegitimize a democratically formed coalition, proposed in accordance with normal parliamentary practices, between the Liberals and the NDP.

The Conservatives have tried to link the coalition with a demonized Bloc Québécois and Quebec. Mr. Harper wants to buy time in order to stir up support from a majority in English Canada. He is turning a serious constitutional and legal issue, on which he knows he cannot win a confidence vote, into a political battle of national unity, calculating that the numbers are on his side.

Instead of focusing on accommodation, on the need for early action on the economy, Mr. Harper is launching hypocritical attacks that can lead to a national disaster, and, with the time prorogation has granted him, he will no doubt continue to promote disunity. Consider the following falsehoods that he, his ministers and their party are spreading:

1. The Bloc is part of the Liberal-NDP coalition. It's not. But it is providing needed stability by signing an agreement not to bring down the coalition during its first 18 months. Mr. Harper has relied on the Bloc 14 times in votes, and twice on budget ones.

2. The Bloc was promised six Senate seats. The Bloc, of course, is opposed to the Senate. No such offer exists.

3. According to Mr. Harper, the Canadian flag did not appear behind Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe during their press conference. This is false. The flag was visibly there.

4. The Bloc would have a veto on all the actions of the coalition government. False. The Bloc did not ask for, and was not given, such a veto. In fact, its agreement not to bring down the coalition means the opposite is true.

5. Mr. Harper and his supporters are calling all "sovereigntists" in Quebec "separatists." Although a great number of Quebeckers would call themselves "sovereigntists," a large majority of them are certainly not separatists....

Instead of following constitutional precedent and allowing a democratic confidence vote to take place when it should, we have a power-hungry man who will be recorded as the first prime minister in Canada's history to deliberately create a political crisis and set the fire of national disunity.

If you are reading this, you have just proved once again how annoying signatures/tag lines are. Support their abolition.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Lawrence Martin, in today's Globe, wrote:
Ms. Jean is under no obligation to listen to Mr. Schreyer, but his observations go to the heart of a problem she faces. No governor-general should be seen to be in the business of closing down Parliament for the crassly political reason of saving a government from almost certain defeat on a confidence motion.

The driving imperative of the Harper government's adjournment request is survival. Ms. Jean knows that last Friday the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons foyer and announced that the opposition would be allowed a confidence vote on Dec. 8. She knows that his reason for wanting to renege on that vow is that he is likely to lose that vote. To grant prorogation could make her look complicit in the Prime Minister's political power play.

That's the type of thing, Mr. Schreyer said, that has to be avoided. Speaking of political neutrality, he said: “I regard that as the sine qua non of the office. … What the Governor-General must not do is start canvassing because that too quickly comes to destroy respectful neutrality, political neutrality.”

She must also consider the danger of setting an unacceptable precedent. Granting prorogation in dire circumstances for a government is tantamount to saying it should be granted at any time – that the governor-general should be a rubber stamp in the process. That means any time a minority Parliament is in trouble, facing a confidence vote, the prime minister could simply prorogue to head off the crisis.

Paul Martin could have done so in the fall of 2005 and avoided losing an election campaign that extended over Christmas. John Diefenbaker could have tried it in the early 1960s. Joe Clark could have tried it in 1979, though Mr. Schreyer said he's not sure he would have granted it.

Those leaders may have had second thoughts, realizing that the governor-general of the day might have turned them down. But with the precedent of a go-ahead for Mr. Harper, why would any future PM hesitate?

If you are reading this, you have just proved once again how annoying signatures/tag lines are. Support their abolition.

Left J.A.B.

Parkdale High Park wrote:

So I have been asked to address my arguments to the general coalition debate. You might want to take a look at the latest COMPAS poll - things have moved even more against the coalition.

 

If an election were held today:

CPC: 51 (53 in On, 32 in PQ, 62 in west)

LPC: 20 (24 in ON, 19 in PQ, 13 in west)

NDP: 10! (12 in ON, 10 in PQ, 7! in west)

BQ: 8 (35 in PQ)

http://www.compas.ca/data/081205-CommonsTurmoil-EPCB.pdf

But I realize there is genuine support in the idea of a coalition here, so I will try to address my arguments to coalition supporters. The governor-general, faced with these kind of numbers (2-1 opposition to the coalition) is substantially more likely to call an election should a VONC pass. That election will go badly for the coalition members, but I urge you to consider something bigger.

The governor-general's decisions don't just follow precedents, they CREATE precedents. By pushing for a coalition at the worst possible time you risk creating a precedent that coalition government in Canada is illegitimate. That doesn't just mean you fail now, it means you fail for at least the next few decades, in a period of likely minority government. That is bad for Canada - I have no problem with coalition governments (though they are inherently unstable in a westminster system where small shifts in public opinion yield large seat changes, causing rapid divergence in the electoral incentives of coalition members), but I do have a problem with this one.

If you genuinely want a future where coalition governments can happen, save face. Doing so and losing the precedent of parliamentary supremacy gives Harper a permanent negotiation advantage because he knows the opposition would be unable to unite against him - he would only ever have to compromise if he thought he would lose an election and could govern indefinitely so long as a hard core base of 33% of kept re-electing him. 

Make this a long term project and strike when you know you can win.

 

There is simply no way that over half of Ontarians would vote for Harper if we were in an actual election.  These polls are worse than useless.  If Harper were so sure he would have been demanding an election not running a way and calling in Mommy to fight his battles for him.

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