06.13.2010 03:07 PM

Microphone-eating time (updated)

Former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow is ignoring the wishes of the Liberal and NDP leadership and forging ahead with attempts to bring the two parties closer together.

Mr. Romanow, who was the leader of the Sasketchewan NDP from 1987 to 2001 before heading a federal inquiry into health care, said in an interview that the idea of closer collaboration with the Liberal Party is “nothing new.”

“Even in the 1990s, when [Liberal leader Jean] Chrétien and I were in office, we would frequently discuss this,” he said.

Mr. Romanow urged the current leaders of the NDP and the Liberal Party to have the courage to “discuss new ideas.”




  1. Will says:

    Romanow and Chretien’s recent comments are an embarrassment to both parties. The Liberals shouldn’t be shy to talk coalition but merger talk is not necessary at this point in time.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Discuss, think, co-operate, follow common principles and objectives but above all, keep your eyes on the ball and sink the Harper government at the earliest opportunity. I know I sound like a broken record (and perhaps a boring one at that) but hey, I’ve got to be me!

  3. Jan says:

    Progressives rejecting new ideas – this is is great. Maybe Romanow should start a new party.

  4. Joseph says:

    I don’t get the title. So Romanow and friends are going to create a new party, and a bunch of Liberal and NDP MPs are going to join? How is this going to work?

  5. Liberal says:

    Nice to see Bruce Hartley, Chretien’s former Executive Assistant stating that JC will be out supporting the Liberal Party leader as he swings through town this summer.

  6. Catherine says:

    More people are needed in the trenches and not at microphones.

  7. Sandra says:

    Warren, please tell me that Chretien will do the right thing and support Ignatieff and the Party.

    When the Libs/NDP got together in Sask, of course Romanow would be happy. He was leader and the Liberals have never come back in that province. So, it benefited him, not the Liberals.

  8. Ralph says:

    It is a testament to Warrens abilities as a communicator that he could single handedly contrive this entire incident. Luckily its a non story outside the Queensway.

    In the end, most observers of this whole mess understand that there is very little to this story.

  9. Wascally Wabbit says:

    Funny! I’ve been accused of reading too much into stuff I read in the MSM (by someone who was a significant part of a riding executive who lost a riding that had been Liberal for 72 years – the former riding of Lester B. Pearson – an executive which has variously blamed the NDP – who took the riding – and quietly – Stephane Dion – for the loss! I’ll respect their opinions when they show some gumption and get their collective heads out of the sand!).
    Consequently, I treat anything like this published in the G&M as loaded with CPC agenda!
    Nevertheless, when I see David Olive – who I know well and highly respect, publishing this in his blog on the Toronto Star site – I fully expect that he did this with the full acquiescence of his editorial / publisher bosses – and that if this has any agenda, it is to soften up the brand loyalty to the realism of the situation the supporters – but more importantly – 65% of Canadian voters (and maybe 20% more who sat on the sidelines in the last two elections) – and that talks and pragmatic discussions BEFORE an election make an awful lot of sense. I read another column in the Toronto Star today – where Jim Coyle apologized for earlier publishing a favourable comment about Mike Harris receiving an honorary degree. His mail box was overwhelmed by visceral comments about how hated Mike Harris is – more than 7 years after the end of the Common Sense Revolution

  10. Riff says:

    Warren’s political instincts and experience, backed by Chrétien, Romanow, have brought him to the conclusion that a merger of centre-left parties is necessary. Ignatieff and his gang did not want to accept his advice so they kicked him out of the inner circle and have now ‘circled their wagons’ to fend off all criticism of their decision to reject any and all talk of a coalition, before or after the next election. This ongoing civil war in the Liberal caucus and Party will, as Nik Nanos makes clear, will spell the death of the Liberal Party in the next election, perhaps as this Fall.

    Ignatieff, not understanding the transformation of Canadian society and politics over the past thirty years, will defend the dying Liberal Brand until the Liberal Party has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. Joe Clark, the fool, took the same approach with his moribund PC Party throughout the entire 1990s and early 2000s. The PC party was swallowed up very easily by Harper’s far more powerful Canadian Alliance Party. Why, because he had a clear program of social and fiscal conservative policies, and prairie populism – Senate Reform and asymmetric federalism – that resounded with conservative-minded Canadians from coast to coast. In short, the New Right Conservative Party is a reflection of the profound changes that have taken place in certain quarters of Canadian society over the past half century.

    The centre-left political parties have no choice but to respond creatively to these deep demographic, social, cultural, religious, and economic changes in Canadian society or they will be relegated to the opposition benches for decades to come.

    A lucid reading and full understanding of Canadian political history and political culture since the formation of Canadian political parties in the 1850s draws me to the same conclusion. The centre-left parties, sooner or later, will have to merge if they hope to defeat Harper’s ‘New Right’ Conservative government and regain office.

    This merger process can, and should, begin by extensive cooperation between the Liberal Party and the NDP party in the lead up to the next election. If the combined vote and seats for the Liberal Party and the NDP are greater than for Harper’s Conservatives then they should attempt to defeat the Harper government at the first opportunity and form a coalition government.

    If this coalition government is functional, then the Party leaders and their caucuses can begin the process of merger discussions. Eventually these discussions should include the Green party. The new centre-left Party might even include members of the Bloc Québécois caucus if these members reject secession as their ultimate goal.

    This merger process will be very difficult and there is no guarantee that it will succeed first time out. But a successful outcome will make Canada’s national political party system truly competitive and far more democratic. Most importantly, a new and vibrant centre-left national party will prevent Harper’s Conservative Party from dominating national politics for several decades. The Liberal Party’s dominance of Canadian national politics for the entire 20th century was not healthy for Canadian democracy and this dominance ultimately contributed to the Liberal Party’s downfall once it wielded power with excessive arrogance in the 1990s.

  11. JStanton says:

    David Olive’s article certainly gladdens me, despite his rather unfortunate tone with respect to Mr. Ignatieff. Yeah, we may think these things from time to time, but shouldn’t disrespect the man publicly in this way, as if he was stupid, and a fool. Clearly intelligence is not his problem. His problem is that his personality is utterly unsuited for party leader

    Nonetheless, Olive’s dream-team cabinet is quite impressive. If only there actually was justice and fairness in the firmament… if only we could get what we need, rather than what we deserve.

    Kennedy as PM however, is lunacy. Evidently he knows how to provide a free lunch, but there is no way that he has the cajones necessary to pull a kicking and screaming nation forward. Until I’ve seen him grab an interloper by the throat, I won’t believe that he is more than gentle talker with soft hands who disagrees with nobody.

    Olive is right to clear up the muddle about coalition vs. merger. The latter is premature. The former scenario however, could happen at any time, although, evidently, Mr. Ignatieff wants his turn at an election first, so we may have to wait (yet again) for the planets to line-up. (bloody tiresome).

  12. Joseph says:

    Iggy on Sunday June 13, 2010: Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told a Grit policy forum in Dartmouth, N.S. that his party is not interested. “This party is not for merging,” …

    Maggie Thatcher on Oct 10, 1980: “To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning!”

    Hey, Kinsella, why are you giving Iggy a former British lady-PM’s talking points?

  13. vish says:

    Wow…Gerard Kennedy as PM? This is just getting more bizarre….whats rumour and whats fact!

  14. Joel Coates says:

    There are big differences between the NDP and Liberals.

    The NDP has always engaged in figurative oral sex with unions.

    At least the Liberal Party has the vision to see beyond lunch-bucket politics and gather a broader constituency.

    • Namesake says:

      Speaking of blow-hards….

      It’s pretty rich how the ill-informed right-eous-bots trot out these canards to denigrate the NDP.

      Anyone who’s been around – and politically aware – long enough, or has lived in a number of provinces (rather than just, say, Alberta!) know there’s a big difference b/w what the NDP say or do to satisfy their base while they’re in opposition and what they end up actually doing once they attain power…

      …when they soon become far more centrist and pragmatic, and far more willing to disappoint their base in the interests of what’s doing best for the whole state they’ve become stewards of (and/or to maintain power), than ‘most any party.

      (Kinda like the Cons, except in reverse: when the rubber hits the road and they actually have to balance a budget, the NDP become far more fiscally conservative, while the Cons blow all the surplus on pork-barreling, & untendered pet projects to curry favour with the Americans, etc., but that’s another story.)

      That’s been the case in Manitoba & BC, from what I’ve seen. And just try to tell all those (still!) disgruntled civil servants in Ontario that the infamous “Rae Days” shows the NDP suck up to the unions & bankrupt the treasury when they’re in power.

      It’s kinda like the perennial parenting situation: sure, the inexperienced, idealistic, and aggrieved child says to himself & anyone w/in earshot, “I won’t be so mean when I’m a parent,” but lo and behold, when they finally find themselves in the position of responsibility, they make many of the same choices.

  15. Michael Watkins says:

    And then there is this piece by Neil Reynolds in the G&M floating the Conservative Liberal coalition possibility, one of a growing number of references to this idea over the past week. http://bit.ly/dyvZV2

    If Liberals think they’d lose members or identity joining forces with moderate elements of the NDP, imagine how many they would lose by joining forces with Stephen Harper.

    I’d expect someone like John Manley would be all for it, but not Jean Chretien.

    No matter, at this rate the decision will be made for them by dissidents reaching to a hand extended by Harper.

    • Iris Mclean says:

      Haven’t the Liberals been in a coalition with the Cons already for the last four years or so?

      • Michael Watkins says:

        Done with trite NDP talking points? Did that make you feel better Iris?

        I don’t blame the Liberals for voting in the House for self-preservation – that’s an unhappy but necessary choice they have to make. Besides, with the current situation, what’s the alternative? Maybe a couple more NDP seats and a Harper majority? Gee, that’ll be oh so much better, I’m feelin’ the love already!

        If you want to pin blame on them, excoriate them for wasting so much time and opportunity over the last five or six years, or longer. Or chide them in the here and now for not being open to new ideas. Same old same old isn’t going to work.

        The opposition will make some minor headway on Fake Lake but in the end it’ll all be for nought. I’m about resigned to a Harper majority now.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Fire the Managers:


    What a weird photograph. I find it hard to believe that even Harper wanted to look that way for posterity – surely someone photoshopped it.
    If he wanted it that way, and approves – then it’s a disturbing look into his psyche.

  17. robert says:

    Thank God someone in this country has some common sense…well, that makes two then doesn’t it, really? Roy and Jean. Maybe they should start their own party. All the others seem comatose.

  18. Jim says:

    In a perfect world, there would be no merger before the next election, election results reduce the LPC to sub 20 seats and the party dies the death it has so deftly brought upon itself. Then the shattered remains of the LPC can be divided amongst the NDP and the CPC.

    Granted that would probably involve a couple of CPC majorities, but it would allow the time needed for former red Libs to move the NDP closer to the center, making them a more palatable choice for center left types. Blue Libs that migrate to the CPC can help insure that the CPC stays close to the center.

    Remember, it took the right ten years to get it’s house in order…the Libs have been out of power for a little over 4 years and have done nothing but spin their wheels in the mud.

    Are they even interested in fixing the machine? Is it even worth it?

  19. Paul R. Martin says:

    Would there be a place for Libby Davis in a merged party? She has seemingly gone off the deep end in her recent comments about Isreal. Her fellow knee dippers were not amused.

  20. Robbie says:

    Libby’s position on Palestinian situation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utXDAha_vGg

  21. Wascally Wabbit says:

    Tying up the loose ends – David Olive responds to his critics – enlightening them on the facts – a Liberal / NDP coalition would be neither frightening nor socialist…

    Thanks folks for an an informed debate.
    F. Lloyd, if I thought the result would be socialism – whatever diluted meaning that word now has – I’d be running for the hills too. But a coalition – and it really has come to this – is the only way for (a) the Dippers to become viable, because most Canadians have the same revulsion for “socialism” as F. Lloyd refers to, and (b) it’ll drag the Grits away from being me-too conservatives. The result will be a genuine alternative to the Tories. As for denouncing socialism, Wilson, the NDP quietly dropped its opposition to NATO and advocacy of nationalizing the banks years ago. What I’ve mostly heard the Dippers talk about the past two decades is oppositon to a complacent industrial policy that would one day hollow out our Southern Ontario manufacturing sector – a cry the NDP first issued in the mid-1990s. And lo and behold, that’s precisely what’s happened. The Dippers are also the only party, going back five years, that saw nothing one could describe as a “victory” in the Afghan end game. They’ve been manifestly right about that, too.
    As for Buzz, the NDP dislikes him more than the Grits. The two individuals the federal NDP regards as most poisonous to their interests are Buzz Hargrove, widely loathed among the unions the CAW shamelessly raided for members; and Bob Rae, whom too many Ontarians will never forgive for 1990-95. He’s also reviled by NDPers as a turncoat, especially in caucus.
    It’s obvious, note, that the Dippers would be the junior partner in this coalition. Unions will have a slightly bigger voice in a coalition-led Canada, but only slightly, and for better or worse it would still be no match for Bay Street, local Chambers of Commerce and the successor to the BCNI!
    John, that’s appropriate question to ask. Do your Google and Amazon searches for my books, speeches and articles. I’m a current affairs writer with business as my starting point 30 years ago. Write about business and you discover on Day 1 that all business is politics. The Gulf spill? Who gave BP the license to drill, and failed to monitor it adequately beforehand? Answer: federal and state governments in Alaska and Louisiana. Who wrongly approved the tainted Vioxx for sale on Merck’s behalf – the business-lobbyist-influenced FDA, of course. Who was slow off the mark on the Toyota out-of-control acceleration? The U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration and its counterparts in other nations. Who enabled the Reichmanns to build Canary Wharf? Thatcher.
    So if you write about business, you become a student of politics real quick or you’re out of the loop. Sports, environmental policy, and who does and doesn’t get R&D grants, same thing – politics.
    Wild Irish Renegade, I suspect we agree that the 44-member council is one of the worst things that happened to civic governance in Canadian history. But this is a different kettle of fish, pardon the cliche. The coalition would have the same (smaller) size cabinet as Mr. Harper’s. As with the Peterson-Rae coalition – so successful with the people that Peterson won a thumping majority two years later – the major issues of coalition policy would be previously decided upon. That’s where the heated internal debate would begin and end. So it would be very manageable, in part because MPs of each party would have every interest in making it work.
    Forgot to mention there’ll be a new name for the new party, once it gets beyond coalition to merger stage, and perhaps before – my guess is the Liberal Democrats. Good choice, since most Canadians, if they voted in the States, would be Dems (a moderate to conservative party, especially under Obama, who’s signed two massive tax cuts in his 18 months). And the Liberal brand, while tarnished since the Chretien-Martin infighting, is still strongly associated with the “natural governing party” tradition. (Of course, “Liberal” would be toxic in the States. Not so in Aussie, where the Liberals are actually the conservative party, as they are in B.C.)

  22. Ted says:

    I have no problem with cooperation or even a coalition under the right circumstances if it is in Canada’s best interest.

    At the same time there is stupid talk of merging with a party who’s deputy leader says stuff like this. Whether you think she is right or wrong, it is just too far away from any position the Liberal Party has ever held on Israel.

    • Warren says:

      Could not agree more. What a disgrace.

      • Paul R. Martin says:

        Jack Layton looked very weak on Power Play in his comments regarding Libby Davis. As Tom Clark pointed out, if a Conservative had made a similar comment, an apology would not be sufficient for the NDP. They would have demanded a resignation. The NDP also refused to sign on to an all party agreement regarding the Afghjan detainee documents, thus they will not see any of them. Furthermore, Layton had to distance himself from earlier comments he had made regarding the Auditor General’s audit of the House. I know that Layton is fighting cancer. He did not look well. I really think that the NDP Party took a big hit today and given Layton’s health, will not be eager for an election in the near future.

  23. Robbie says:

    Note to self: when defending someone’s indefensible remarks always shoot the messenger; it garners significant credibility with your critics. This, from a defender of Ms. Davies’ position on Palestine and of her on-camera remark: “She was punked by a phoney blogger who was trying to trap her into saying something unacceptable.” Read the entire context here. It’s truly enlightening.

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