05.13.2010 11:10 AM


How can Stephen Harper now demonize coalition – after what has happened in Britain, and after his own party was the direct result of one?

Discuss. Will approve your comments when the plane lands!


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    Matthew says:

    Surely you of all people know that facts and the truth mean nothing to this man or his government. His gut tells him what is right. Facts, the truth, the constitution all be damned!

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    Jim says:

    I would not have an issue with the NDP and the Liberals forming a coalition.

    Any coalition including the Bloc should not and would not be tolerated.

    End of story.

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      Jon Pertwee says:

      is that your contempt for democracy speaking Jim? Whether you like their politics or not they were elected and have just as much a right to be there as anyone else.

      Despite how hard your beloved tories try, you can’t have it both ways.

      Nor can you make special revisionist rules for our system because you dont agree with something.

      If that was the case Id say lets ban you from voting for being an ass.

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        Ted says:

        A coalition WITH the Bloc is different than a coalition supported by the Bloc (as was the case in 2008) or a minority government supported by the Bloc (as was the case with the Conservatives under Harper).

        A party that is dedicated to the break-up of the country should not be allowed to form part of the government no matter how loyal they are until that break-up.

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      Ted says:

      “Any coalition including the Bloc should not and would not be tolerated.”

      Good thing no one has ever considered that idea.

      But straw men (or straw coalitions) certainly have their purposes, I suppose.

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    e says:

    Mr. Harper demonizes because he can and few call him on it; it’s worked for him so far so he will continue until the country stands up to it

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    marg bedore says:

    I hope you are reading The Armageddon Factor. We need to understand the opposition

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    matt says:

    Because there are honest coalitions and sneaky coalitions. Sneaky is when you campaign on “no coalition”, let the government form, and then say “coalition” two months later (LPC/NDP/BQ coalition, Mackay leadership campaign). Honest is when everyone campaigns on the prospect of coalition, and the votes are cast accordingly (UK election, PC/Alliance merger vote).

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      smelter rat says:

      Matt, please point out where any party said no to a coalition during the last election… or any election for that matter.

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    Ian says:

    He will say anything to suit his purposes. My prediction is that if he wins a majority in the House one of the first things he will do will be to bring in a carbon tax.

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    James Smith says:

    Check out the 2nd to last comment on Scott’s blog by REDFOREVER:


    Please also ignore the ignoramus’ comment that follows his 😉

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    JStanton says:

    … because, by failing to challenge him, the LPC has given credibility to his contoured discourse that a coalition is somehow underhanded and unpatriotic, rather than the manifestation of democracy at work.

    By failing to control the discourse, the LPC gives Mr. Harper a free ride, and the damage done to Canada is incalculable.

    The LPC needs to get professional, and perhaps grow up a bit. A coalition is exactly what we need to get this country going again. And it will oblige the country to come to terms with the Bloc, insofar as, like it or not, the Bloc is the legitimate representative of many Quebecers.

    Heck, we have to hold our nose and deal with the Stephen Harper party anachronism; in practical terms, it will be far easier for Mr. Harper’s constituency to do business with the Bloc.

    In fact, it may be that Mr. Ignatieff, given his background, may actually be the right man at the right time.

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    wilson says:

    What happened in Britian was a ‘coalition of losers’ was rejected,
    the party favoured by the electorate leads the government.
    British experts called a coalition of losers illegitmate too.
    Which validates the rejection of the 2008 coup here in Canada.

    What happened in Britian makes a Con-NDP coalition no longer unthinkable,
    perhaps even desirable.
    Take out the possibility of the BLOC playing a key role in a coalition,
    Jack may even win more seats in Quebec.
    Less BLOC clout is a good thing.

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      Jan says:

      Harper cannot work constructively with others. If he could, we wouldn’t be in the situation we currently are. So, unless you’re talking about a post-Harper coalition, forget it.

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    Jesse says:

    He can’t, though he can still probably demonize a coalition with the Bloc, and will claim that Ignatieff is open to that possibility, so Canadians have to vote for him.

    I think Steve at Farnwide had a fantastic idea today; when asked, say we’d be happy to work with any federalist party, including the Conservatives so long as they remove Harper, who has proven to be incredibly destructive.

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    eattv says:

    Unholy PC / Reform alliance notwithstanding, I find it an interesting oversight that no one has really pinned the rise of the Bloc on the Cons. After all, they got their start as a splinter group off of Mulroney’s failed experiment in including separatists in the government. Whilst I’m sure Harper would do everything in his power to deny his connection to that particular development (being that he’s really just a Reformer), the fact remains that the other half of his party did this to Canada.

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    Blair Shumlich says:

    How can Stephen Harper do a lot of the things he does?

    I think that there are a things he could point to if there was an engaged public which actually understood what was going on. Most Canadians don’t actually really know what is going on in Britain; most Canadians barely understand Canadian politics.

    1. The merger between his parties was of a permanent nature. In the next election they would not be working together. This means that they would not make politically sexy moves with the purpose of fracturing government for political gain. The Liberals, BQ and NDP would not be able to say this.

    2. Nick Clegg worked with the party with the largest number of seats, they didn’t try to form a coalition of the opposition. While doing so is legitimate, I think Harper could say that the coalition in Britain still has a mandate to govern as it works with the party with the largest number of seats.

    3. Harper would point to the fact that the Liberals had been soundly defeated in the election mere months ago; Nick Clegg worked with the Conservative Party first, not Labour. He said they had the right to form government first.

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    Inge Jordan says:

    I tried to point out the same thing to the G&M in a strongly-worded letter which was of course not published. I think the Cons’ behaviour in that coalition episode in 2008 was one of the worst examples of undemocratic behaviour I have ever seen, and if they had any decency and honesty left, they would admit this now when, after all, the Queen herself, the one that cannot just be casually phoned and who limits her accessibility to certain times of the day (not before 1 pm and not after 10 pm), in her very Palace has “invited” Mr. Cameron for form a government based on a coalition! One would now expect some serious crow to be eaten in public – but it won’t. They will find a way to smear a Liberal or two instead. This should also make Liberals and NDP assess their childish antagonisms, but it won’t. Depressing, though fascinating to watch.

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    smelter rat says:

    He’ll just focus on demonizing the separatists. To his peril, i hope.

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    wes werkman says:

    I am not anti colatition. I just do not think the separatists deserve any part of it.

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    Brian says:

    Yes. He can do anything he wants to. That’s how democracy in Canada works now.

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    Big Winnie says:

    Harper can’t demonize coalitions, especially now. The problem is that for a coalition government to work, there has to be consensus among the parties to work together for Canadians, in a civilised, co-operative manner. Herein lies the problem. Harper has demonstrated time and tme again that he is incapable of co-operation, he rules by fear and intimidation.

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    Jerome Bastien says:

    The Conservative Party results from the merger of the Progressive Conservatives and the Alliance, not from a coalition between the two parties.

    RE: Britain, apparently it was not an option in Britain to run a minority government. It seems that the political traditions in our two countries differ at least on this point. Notably, the coalition will be led by the leader of the party having won most seats.

    The problem with the Coalition of December 08 (when Conservatives polled at 44%) is that of mandate and voter expectations, which while they are not part of the written constitution, definitely form a part of the unwritten constitution.

    If the Liberals/NDP/Bloc want the possibility to form a coalition government next time they lose to Harper, they should campaign openly about it (something like admitting that if Harper only gets a majority, we will ask the GG to form a coalition government). That way, the voters can express their approval or lack thereof for such an arrangement at the ballot box. In 08, Dion had categorically ruled out a coalition during the campaign.

    That’s one reason why Harper can demonize the coalition.

    Another, more practical reason, is that having the Bloc with a de facto veto over any government policy. “No no but he doesnt have a veto” was the Liberal tune in December 08. Who are you kidding? Duceppe can withdraw his support at any time if he wants to, and there is precious little Dion/Ignatieff/Rae/Layton can do about it. Remember that Duceppe is not just a “Quebec-first” type guy. He is a guy who is actively seeking to destroy the federation. So you’re giving a de facto veto over government policy to a guy who seeks to destroy the federation. How much pork to Quebec will satisfy Duceppe? No amount of pork, because what he wants is to drive the RoC to want Quebec to leave.

    That’s another reason why Harper can demonize the coalition.

    Also, since I know you hate Mark Steyn, I will quote him: If you mix vanilla ice cream with dog poo, the result ends up tasting more like the latter than the former.

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      Brian says:

      Jerome, not true – a minority government was an option in the UK, and one that the Conservatives seriously considered.

      But three political calculations made it a crappy and unpopular option out of the gate.

      First, the uncertainty of governing that way, which given the state of Britain’s budget and economy was not in the best interest of the country.

      Second, the interests of the Conservative Party, which might not have stayed in power too long if they’d been left the sole culprit and scapegoat for making cuts that all three parties agreed needed to happen.

      Third, the risk that operating in a minority left the LibDems free to negotiate something from a grand ‘regionalist-Lib-Lab’ coalition, and leaving that option open would leave the initiative with other parties – not a bright idea with a schemer like Gordon Brown still hanging around.

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    Bubba says:

    If the coalition is not denied by the partners during a campaign. I michael Ignatieff will or might enter into a coalition with party a,b,or c depending on the results of this election to form a stable government for canada. Then go for it. If you campaign against it then it is not valid.Even if you say anything is possible then O.K. but dont get votes on the fact you will not do it.That is what I found offensive at the failed attempt. It was like undoing the election results.

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    michael hale says:

    Mr. Harper has a very principled approach to coalitions – they are all bad unless he benefits from them. He will never breach that principle. Guaranteed.

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    Biff Mukluk says:

    In the UK, nobody in the coalition wanted to break up the country – that’s where that came from. But seriously, LIBS should be looking to gel with dippers because that’s the only way they’re going to beat the Harperites.

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    Saskrad says:

    Interesting how the media is jumping on the coalition bandwagon now after the UK approves one, after trashing us supporters of the 2008 coalition as being traitors. The fact of the matter is: coalitions are quite constitutional. The 2008 coalition would have provided stable government for two years. It was a coalition of progressives against the minority Conservatives. Unless the Messiah comes along soon, it is likely we will continue to have minority parliaments and hence, coalitions. Get used to it Canada.

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    Jason Hickman says:

    Some of this ground has been covered, but briefly…

    1. The UK coalition is being led by the man, and the party, that won the election (if by “winning” one uses the definition of “getting more votes and more seats than anybody else”). The Dion/Layton/supported-by-Duceppe thing wasn’t.

    2. As noted above, Dion was pretty clear in saying “no dice” to the idea of a coalition during the campaign. He went beyond the “We’re going to win, so who cares” approach taken by Cameron (and Brown, for that matter).

    3. The Cameron/Clegg Coalition commands a majority in the UK’s H of C. The Dion/Layton thing doesn’t, unless …

    4. … The BQ was included. Yes, I know, no Blocquistes were going to be in cabinet, etc. But the only way the Lib/NDP deal could work was with the BQ’s support pledged in advance. Remember: you can add up the Lib & NDP seats won on election day (114) and they’re less than the # of seats won by the CPC (143).

    5. Most Canadians did not want the BQ even close to the levers of power. Make all the arguments you want about (a) BQ MPs are elected MPs, just like everyone else, or (b) the BQ wasn’t “officially” part of the deal. You saw the BQ’s influence from the get-go (anyone else remember the “Canadians and Quebeckers” press release/statement?), and you can dress that up anyway you want – it’s not going to sell in much of Canada. In the UK, I imagine the reaction would have been the same if, for example, a coalition would have had to rely on the SNP to get over the majority threshold.

    6. What the Canadian example and the UK example had/have in common is that they were/are “legal” under constitutional law. Did people call the Lib/NDP/BQ(?) gathering a “coup”? Sure. Was it that sort of language that turned people against it? I’m not so sure, nor do I buy the line that Canadians who were opposed just didn’t understand our system, etc. It really wasn’t that complex: The Libs and NDP could have formed a coalition with the pledged support of the BQ (and only with that pledged support) because the three of them had a majority of seats, and more seats than the CPC. The majority, assuming that the polls were right, simply didn’t accept it as legitimate, politically speaking.

    I don’t know what the reaction among the UK general public has been, or will be, to the Cameron/Clegg deal (anyone seen any polls?), but if it faces the same level of distrust that the Dion/Layton/Duceppe arrangement had, it won’t be long for this earth. I don’t think it will (at least not right away), in large measure because of the factors I’ve set out above.

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      parnel says:

      the real issue is that Harper called it a coup by an unelected coalition. The UK coalition was not elected as one but it was formed post election. that makes Harper a liar once again for throwing untruths onto an unsuspecting population.

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      Brian says:

      I hate to spill through this page and continuously write “not true, not true,” but the fact of the matter is, the Conservative Party, with the full approval of its leader, insisted that coalitions were un-Canadian, not part of the Canadian tradition, and effectively unconstitutional. “We don’t change leaders without a new election,” etc. I’m sure Harper said some of those things himself, but I can’t be bothered to find the quotes. No matter; he’s the Prime Minister, yet didn’t correct his partisans when they did it.

      If the Conservatives had said nothing more than ‘don’t do this, you’re giving the Bloc the balance of power,’ or called it “a coalition of the losers,” it would have been hypocrisy, but it would have at least been understandable, defensible hypocrisy. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they deliberately chose to step out into the public realm and misrepresent the Constitution and the democratic system to a nation of largely ignorant people, all to cover over a cheap partisan mistake of their own making. On principle, at least, misrepresenting the constitution is a very unconservative thing to do, and I’ll never forgive the current crop of Tories in Ottawa for doing it.

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    Chris Haines says:

    Every coalition needs to be examined on it’s own. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of a coalition and I don’t think Harper ever said he didn’t agree with coalitions in general. He just didn’t like the idea of the Liberals joining with separatists and to a lesser extend socialists.

    For example, if the Liberals were to form a coalition with moderate Conservatives, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But I don’t like the idea of including Jack Layton or the Bloc in a coalition.

    The Liberals are the smarter party. They have the better leader. The will be in power again soon, but they need to be patient. Wait until Canadians are really sick of the Conservatives (18-24 months), then force an election and win a majority. Then they will be able to make meaningful changes and not have to dilute it with dated union concessions or separatist agendas.

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    Elizabeth says:

    I’d be fine with a coalition including the Bloc, if I wanted a coalition – which I don’t really at this point. I’d rather a coalition with Duceppe than with Layton.
    I like Gilles Duceppe, and if he were involved in a coalition, he might suddenly feel this enormous responsibility towards the entire country, and begin to work like a fiend to repair all its ills and keep us together.
    I’d rather Duceppe than Harper any day of the week.

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    Elizabeth says:

    Harper successfully manipulated and used the ignorance of the electorate about coalitions. He had no shame, no conscience in doing so. He doesn’t care to educate and enlight – he just wants power at any expense, including honesty.

    Then he proceeded to demonize the Bloc. Peter Milliken has said that he finds it troubling to hear that the Bloc is viewed with mistrust – that they cannot see documents, for instance. The Bloc is just honest and up front about the fact that they want Quebec to separate from Canada. Harper, on the other hand, I sometimes think is the most divisive force to date in Canada, and sometimes I actually think he aims to split Canada, without telling us about it. At least Duceppe is honest, and I think he’s trustworthy.

    There was no such talk in Parliament, about “levers of power” and who could be trusted to see documents, until Harper – this impostor – got into the PMO.

    Harper has done a good job of poisoning the atmosphere for the Bloc, and for Quebec – and we’re seeing the results of it in polls, apparently – the divide between Alberta and Quebec that’s spreading. It’s just ridiculous – there is no need for this to happen. Alberta and Quebec are more similar than they are different, but Harper uses the regionalism in order to stay in power.

    Something about the nature of Canada, and how our government is set up, has laid the groundwork for this horrible government to take hold. The country is like a person who has no auto-immune response to a new disease, and no means to fight it off. We seem to be defenseless.

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    Elizabeth J says:

    It seems like some of the people commenting here have not bothered to read UK coverage of their own situation. Take a look at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/default.stm

    The Lib-Dems were talking to both the Conservatives and Labour. If they had joined with Labour they would have needed support from the Scottish and Welsh seperatist parties. (Sinn Fein does not count as they cannot vote due to refusing to take the oath to the Queen.)

    The Lib-Dems chose the Conservatives for various reasons, but there does not seem to have been much concern about working with seperatist parties if necessary.

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    H Holmes says:

    This missing peace on all of this is the Westminster Statute.
    Labour had the first right to form a government and continue to lead, even if included a coalition.
    This rule would have made it much easier for Paul Martin to form a coalition and govern, then for Dion.
    The Conservatives in the UK case can only form government if the incumbent party can’t.

    The main reason that Labour didn’t form government was because they had to include the scottish separatists.

    The coalition formed by the Conservative party in the UK should eventually lead to shrinking of support of the Liberal democrats, much like what happened in Saskatchewan.
    Where the liberal party is decimated.

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