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The Alberta talking points massacre: A frightening new fantasy for coalition-phobic Conservatives

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Jim Flaherty

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty worked themselves into a swivet not so long ago warning Canadians about the dire consequences of an imaginary future coalition between the Liberals and the New Democrats, they were impervious to the new coalition threat taking shape just over their horizon.

Oh my GAWD, Flaherty swooned in his now-famous Sept. 21 speech, "nothing would be safe!"

Never mind that polite conversation -- let alone co-operation -- between federal Liberals and New Democrats is a problem just now after the twists and turns of the recent nasty gun-registry debate. And never mind that a goodly portion of the business crowd that heard Flaherty rolled their eyes and squirmed at such drivel.

And never mind even that coalitions seem to be working quite nicely, thank you very much, elsewhere in the English-speaking Parliamentary world -- to wit, among our cousins in Australia and the United Kingdom. Indeed, the British Coalition of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives and Nick Clegg's Liberal-Democrats is producing the very mean-spirited and heartlessly counterproductive economic policies favoured by Harper and his far-right cabal.

Nevertheless, this scare story is certain to be the No. 1 talking point of the scorched earth federal Conservative election campaign that's coming soon, and Harper and Flaherty, not to mention all the other little Tories, will be stickin' to it.

Even that darned shotgun and rifle registry wedge issue pales by comparison to the image of our doughy prime minister in a goalie's mask, starting up his power saw and slicing fear of God and the Coalition into the hearts of Canadians. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

Harper and his so-called Conservatives are obviously pretty confident any Liberal and NDP denials of their claims that meteors will strike the earth if we don't vote Harperista will just tend to confirm the libel in the eyes of the public. They can be equally certain that their friends in business will keep their traps shut, even if they're slightly embarrassed by the strategy.

Most of all, of course, they are very sure that -- with a little help from Canada's pathetic mainstream media -- insufficient numbers of voters will notice anything at all that’s going on in the Antipodes or the Mother Country.

But what if a coalition formed closer to home? And what if, as was suggested here recently, that coalition didn't take a particularly scary shape? Say, for example, that Conservatives were involved! And what if it happened soon?

So what would an Alberta Conservative--Liberal coalition (or, God forbid, a Wildrose Alliance--NDP coalition) do to Harper's and Flaherty's No. 1 talking point before a federal election?

It's an interesting question with implications that should make our federal Conservatives feel an icy shudder, as if someone had walked on their metaphorical grave.

Because the existence of a working coalition, no matter how fragile, right here in Canada, could hardly escape the attention of Canadian voters. And if a conservative party were involved, as would be inevitable in Alberta, the power of the federal party's key talking point would evanesce.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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