06.17.2010 05:49 AM

The idea that won’t die

  • Norm Spector: “Personally, I’m with Mr. Chrétien on this one. Who better than he—having run successfully three times against a divided right—to understand that the division of the opposition vote, if it continues, will likely mean the election of a third consecutive Conservative government?”
  • Brent Noiles: “Liberals shouldn’t summarily dismiss the NDP as a fringe party of socialist wing-nuts, and NDP members shouldn’t pretend they are so morally superior that they can’t co-operate with anyone but themselves. The combined arrogance must end. Instead of dismissing each other, their parties and their policies, the respective leaders might try rising above the small stuff for a change. A closer, more honest look might reveal there’s more that unites than divides.”
  • Browne and Lang:  “Coalitions, governing accords, or other novel arrangements might not be the best option in the minds of many Canadian progressives — particularly Liberals who are used to winning government without making concessions to other parties. But new approaches might be the only option to forming a progressive government any time soon in light of these structural political trends.”

And that’s just this morning.


  1. Joseph says:

    Well, you guys will have the entire summer to sort this out. I hope y’all know that The Great Harper ™ is going to run ads against “coalition” and related stuff starting in July.

    • Warren says:

      And, um, what is it that he and Peter MacKay did in early 2004, exactly?

      • Namesake says:

        I take it that was just a friendly ‘heads up/word to the wise’ from Joseph, so thanks for that, Joseph.

        This is probably a good thing, as it’ll force the Libs’, sigh, braintrust, to actually do something on this front rather taking the summer off, or just courting the well-heeled on the BBQ circuit.

        Hopefully they’ll reason, “We might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb”: i.e., if we’re going to get pilloried for being coalitionists, collaborators and/or (what, Mergists? New Party Formers?), anyway, and there’s no point in trying to counter with, ‘I’ve stopped beating my wife’ denials, then, golly, maybe we should actually, you know, see if we can actually collaborate or coalesce with the parties and get out of the doghouse for a change?

  2. Henry says:

    Massive difference Warren, the cons didn’t merge with people who believe in a totally failed and miserable ideology called socialism. That, is a recipe for assured country despair. It’s called history, look it up, countless examples of the wretched lives and nation destruction such ideology leaves in it’s wake… the *majority* of Canadians are won’t get fooled again, eh Bob? :)))

    • Namesake says:

      There’s a hole in your bucket, dear Henry: or rather, plenty of them. Here’s just 2.

      First, given your ‘Fox News’ conception of the term, face it, the whole of Canada already is and has been socialist for many decades, under both Con & non-Con govt’s, both federally & provincially, and yet we’re doing…well, okay. And/but if you’d prefer the country not have gov’t EI, Medicare, Social Assistance, Disability, and pension systems, might I suggest: you leave, because this is one of the best countries in the world, because of all this.

      Second, far from proving your point, Bob Rae is an example of how even (sorry!) NDP leaders put the ideology aside and become pragmatic when they have to contend with situations not of their own making. (It’s those dreaded civil servant unionists who feel most betrayed by him for making them take days off w/o pay to try to contain spiralling labour costs to contend with a recession, dummy.)

    • Warren says:

      I don’t favour coalition/merger/cooperation because we are weak. That’s a factor, but not the main one.

      I favour it because, at this point – and Libby Davies’ idiocy notwithstanding – more unites progressives than divides us. It feels right, to me.

      • PolyGon says:

        Most of my original post looks like it’s missing – glad you were still able to respond Warren!

        Notwithstanding whether it’s a good idea to unite a great breadth of progressives for its own sake, most supporters of a merger do seem to focus on the weakness of the LPC, and the perennial inability of the NDP to become a viable winner at the federal level. Once upon a time, the Liberals and Tories could fight each other for 85% of the vote (NDP taking 15% being a given). But now they fight for only 65%, with the Bloc and Greens siphoning off more even more. So there’s just less ore in the mine for LPC and CPC to gather between them, and getting a majority for either of them with such limited voter resources would require some kind of exceptional circumstances (or a party leader who’s got megawatt attraction – that’s not in sight).

        So I don’t see the ideological natural-fit of a Lib-Dem party, I just see a fight-back against the multipartisan landscape overall. In a merged Lib-Dem party, I think we’d need someone of Harper’s party discipline tendencies to “muzzle” the extreme edges of a united party – that’s a real turn off, and it hardly speaks to a happy marriage!

        • Warren says:

          Sorry about the glitch – unsure what is happening, here.

          • Michael Watkins says:

            Tell the beavers in the web department that it is likely a character set / unicode issue either in their code or in the interface between it and the database containing all this verbiage.

            Perhaps they run a “safe text” filter of some sort on the comment posted before committing it to the database and that is barfing at the first instance of a character it is not able to handle. This thought is backed up by the fact that your articles are not subjected to the same treatment, which is fairly normal for most content management systems of this sort.

            Ought to be an easy fix, a line of code or a parameter change at most.

    • Namesake says:

      To PolyGon (& all): Try posting again without the accent ague (in Chretien): for some reason the rest of the posts get lost in the ether when they’re used.

  3. Steve T says:

    If this concept moves forward, you’ll need to muzzle the NDP wing-nuts, much as the CPC eventually did to the Reform/Alliance wing-nuts (although not before throwing away a win-able election in 2004). The Conservatives will gleefully pounce on every Libby Davies-style rant as representing the “hidden agenda” of the new party.

  4. bigcitylib says:

    So what is to stop Harper from dropping the writ at a particularly miserable point in merger negotiations? For me, its more important that a majority Tory government be prevented then that some version of the LPoC rule again. If an election came for other reasons and a Tory majority was produced, then maybe (since there would a number of years grace to get things together). Before hand, no.

    Tory majority = apocalypse. At least now they can’t do much harm.

    • Namesake says:

      re: what’s stopping them…: you’re right, certainly nothing as petty as (Their own!) Law of the Land (hats off to Michael Behiels on this: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=87efb8e0-1adb-457e-99ce-847a3815579c

      but re: At least now they can’t do much harm…

      Not true. Apart from blowing billions on pork-barreling, & jeopardizing our health & the environment in various ways by dragging their heels & rolling back safety regs & protocols, they’re also systematically dismantling the country’s research & advocacy capacities, esp. in policy research, both out- & in-side gov’t. These ideologically driven cutbacks are mostly unseen, since the civil service is muzzled, & the NG0’s have been similarly told to shut the f* up or lose their funding even sooner, so most are. But the effects of that will be harmful some years down the line: think of not only Gulf Oil type disasters when no one is watching the watchers, but also the massive human & economic costs of societal counterparts to that which can break out if no one is keeping tabs on things like population health or the effects of poverty.

  5. Wascally Wabbit says:

    Even when Norman Spector writes something that makes sense – I wonder what the Conservative angle is!
    Ms. Davies – in a moment of passion – got her dates wrong.
    Occupation however – is the correct word – since 1967.
    A peace settlement will be reached only when a two state principle is agreed by all parties – and the lands occupied in 1967 and built on by illegal settlements are handed back to Palestians. I know it – you know – so does Mr. Netanyahu!
    There is pressure on President Obama to make that happen this year – Mr. Netanyahu’s actions have just about burnt every bridge to the White House – which would tend to make Ms. Davies more right than most of her critics!

  6. Anne Peterson says:

    Hey, wait a minute. If that totally failed ideology called social democracy is so totally failed how come the social democracies of northern Europe are doing so well. I have been studying them for years and have visited there and they are just fine and dancy. Norway is not cutting back drastically on education funding like Alberta. It is, as a matter of fact, giving Indonesia a billion dollars as a fund to save its forests. And I don’t hear the other Nordic countries listed as financial basket cases like Greece. If people can’t see the world as it really is how can they make correct decisions.

    • Marc L says:

      The social democracies of northern Europe do not spend their time going on corporate-bashing rants and in general, successfull social-democratic governments tend to be much more to the centre than the NDP. The NDP is a left-wing party, period. If all of you think Libby Davies is an exception, give your heads a shake. Libby Davies is not some marginal wingnut grassroots member — she’s the deputy leader. There is more –much more — where she comes from.

      While I’m on the topic, since when do the Liberals define themselves as “left” and “progressive” (yeah, as if only the left is for progress). I thought they have traditionally been pretty much to the centre. That has been the key to their success. Jean Chretien and Paul Martin are to the left? John Manley, head of Canada’s council of chief executives and Frank McKenna, vice-chair of TD Bank are to the left? Ignatieff is a leftie? Gimme a break!

      This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to get back into government by any means. Your (the Liberal Party) real problem is that you don’t have any views on anything — no policies, nothing to propose to Canadians, and on top of it, you spend your time flip-flopping and contradicting yourselves precisely because you don’t have any ideas of your own. How about fixing that problem first, and your popular support just might come back.

      I am economically and fiscally conservative, and socially very Liberal. I am seriously worried — alarmed in fact — at what NDP-style economic policies could do to this country. I will never vote for a party that will give Layton and his crowd control over Canada’s economic levers. I would definitely vote for a party that proposes to continue down the road that the Liberal Party traced during the Chretien years. That is where I would like to see the Liberal party go, not pandering to Jack Layton, Libby Davies and their twisted view of the world.

      • Namesake says:

        Well, again, as I’ve pointed out in this & earlier threads, these ‘The Russians Are Coming!’ fears of the NDP are ill-founded. Like the Cons (& Republicans, for that matter) they shouldn’t be judged so much by what they’ve shouted from the peanut gallery while in Opposition or while campaigning (like, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” or “We’ll never run a deficit” for the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives), as by what they’ve actually done in office.

        And contrary to what you might think, at the provincial level NDP govt’s have tended to be quite sensible and centrist and have even made very hard-hearted decisions such as on welfare (like when the BC gov’t brought in workfare programs in the late 90s).

        You’re correct that the Libs have tended to be more to be more to the right than to the left in recent memory. But FYI, “progressive” doesn’t refer to being in favour of “progress” per se, but to favouring that we advance beyond a laissez-faire system that leaves people to fend for themselves; see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism for a starting point.

        And to their credit, the Libs have done a lot on that score: but usually at the instigation & with the support of the NDP. Apart from holding power — a dubious achievevment in and of itself — most of the proudest moments in their legacy over the past half century owe everything to the CCF/NDP, who are the veritable Great Woman/Unsung Spouse behind the Great Man who gets all the glory.

        • Namesake says:

          Oh, and if the NDP were really all just idiotic, commie socialist wing-nuts, do you really think the present Conservative PM would be foolish enough to appoint a well-known one to be our country’s Ambassador to the bastion of Capitalism, the USA? (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Doer )

          • Marc L says:

            Jack Layton is no Gary Doer just like Canada’s federal NDP is no British Labour. Gary Doer is left-of-centre. Jack layton is left, period. Go take a look at their plan on their website. Is that what you guys stand for? Heavily interventionist protectionist industrial policy? And that’s just the beginning.

            I didn’t call them commies or wing-nuts. In fact, I pointed out that Libby Davies is NO grassroots wing-nut but the deputy leader of the party. . There are moderates in that party but I vote for the agenda, and the economic agenda is scary. These people are true economic illiterates. Even more troubling to me is that the Liberals do not have an agenda. The NDP does. What policies would a merged party adopt?

      • It is too bad that people continue to demonize huge percentages of the Canadian public in their thinking-out-loud. In writing here and elsewhere we often say things that we’d never, ever, say to someone’s face in polite company and in most cases we wouldn’t even believe it. Yet on the ‘net, it’s ok to call an entire party and thereby all its members and supporters ‘wingnuts’ and ‘communists’. And it isn’t just posters here and elsewhere but party brass and leaders too.

        What people ought not forget is that many Canadians vote for the NDP, not because they closely align themselves with what might be considered by a centrist as hard-left policies, but because they are either a) the historical alternative in their area, often for very good reason AND/or b) have a long track record of sticking up for the little guy, the average gal, and the downtrodden. The CCF/NDP started for a reason and have evolved but still their core interest is in people. I don’t always agree with all of their policies, but many of them are not so different than those the Liberals might propose themselves.

        Most of the NDP *voter support* is not hard to the left, just like most Canadians are not hard to the left. But we are a social society, and most of us like it like that, so it isn’t out of character for the average Canadian to find something in the NDP policy book they can approve of.

        Even within the NDP ranks of activists you’ll find a pretty wide set of opinions on many subjects. They are no more monolithic in their views than the Liberals are.

        The extremists on either side – in Harper’s party, and in Layton’s, and yes, in Ignatieff’s and May’s, will either tag along or go it alone. Let them. They make up a very small cross section of Canadians.

        Between Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc *voters* there are a plurality at least, a majority more likely, of Canadians who do believe government has a role in lifting us all up, in ensuring that our least able citizens are not left behind, that national unity is an overarching issue, that we occupy a special place in the world and that takes real work to keep working and that our natural world needs protection because it protects us.

        There must be some sort of movement or approach to bring the like minded views of our greater majority together, or there’ll be nothing to stop Stephen Harper’s gang from having their way.

        • Wascally Wabbit says:

          @Mark L – funny you should mention corporate bashing Mark…because I’m just watching one of the ten largest corporations in the world receiving an orgy of corporate bashing – and there isn’t a pseudo socialist among the bashers. In fact, the parties involved – Democrats and Republicans – are climbing over one another to bash Tony Hayward CEO of BP the hardest in fornt of all their voters! And no-one here north of the border would say that even the modern day Democrat is to the left of the Liberal Party of Canada and (even though I have a pretty low opinion of Harper and his gang) I think they are generally slightly to the left of the party of NO!

          • Marc L says:

            Whaaaat? What’s your point exactly? Because BP is negligent and is justifiably being raked over the coals for it, all corporations deserve to be bashed? Tell me, because some people drive drunk do you think you should have your keys taken away too?

  7. JStanton says:

    … yeah – “muzzle the wingnuts”. Now you begin to understand why Mr.Harper is such a control freak. But it works for him, doesnt it? I’ve heard nary a pejorative word about gays/blacks/jews/muslims/ethno-cultural-minority-of-choice from Conservative back-benchers for years.

    Wait for the first Dipper to muse about the benefits of nationalizing the banks, though, and those back-benchers will be worked up in such a lather, hurling the “Socialism” word around as if they actually understood it.

    But its all moot, in any case. Mr. Ignatieff’s coterie will never allow him to consider a scenario that marginalizes them in any way. Which means that an election is the only to re-set Liberal fortunes.

    As has become the norm, its all up to Mr. Harper!

  8. Sean says:

    One thing I’m getting really tired of is seeing Liberals up in arms about “socialism”. Lets be honest with ourselves Liberals… The Liberal Party supports Healthcare. That is a socialist policy. The Liberal Party supports universal child care. That is a socialist policy. The Liberal Party supports Canada Student Loans. That is a socialist policy. What was the Green Shift, other than a scheme to redistribute wealth from polluters to the middle class through tax cuts? What in heavens name is more socialist than that? Who the heck are we kidding here?! I think all the screaming about socialism is grasping at straws, looking for a tangible point of difference.

  9. Michael S says:

    The wingnuts are all displaying something called “Fear Aggression.”.

    I wonder why?

  10. Henry says:


    1. Health Care – Desperately need a private tier too, Liberals/NDP ain’t gonna let that happen.

    2. UCC – God love us if socialists ever run that, it’ll make HRDC, the gun registry and e-health billions of dollars boondoggles seem like a drop in the water.

    3. Student loans – Everyone pretty much agrees on that.

    4. Green Shift – Canadians and the Liberal party voted loud and clear on that fiasco.

    Canadians are NOT grasping at straws, no way in hell do we want socialists driving those portfolios and the next election will most assuredly prove that if LPC is stupid enough to merger with the NDP.

  11. Henry says:

    Having said all that…. please do merge. The country needs a majority Conservative party in power for several years to steady the ship before the socialist coalition nearly destroys her as Canadians will most likely give them a chance at some point. I hope it’s not too late before Canadians vote the Conservatives back in after realizing the experiment was a national disaster.

    • Sean says:

      Henry, thanks for your contribution? My main point was not to argue in favor of socialism? Rather, that we should stop kidding ourselves by pretending we aren?t already a fairly socialist country? Here are my responses in **

      Henry says:
      June 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm
      1. Health Care ? Desperately need a private tier too, Liberals/NDP ain?t gonna let that happen.

      **Exactly my point? Liberals and NDP both advertise themselves as being in favor of a single tier, universal access, single payer system whose market is controlled by the government?. Sounds pretty socialist to me?**

      2. UCC ? God love us if socialists ever run that, it?ll make HRDC, the gun registry and e-health billions of dollars boondoggles seem like a drop in the water.

      **see above re. Health Care**

      3. Student loans ? Everyone pretty much agrees on that.

      **Yes, this is an excellent example of a socialist policy which almost all Canadians agree with.**

      4. Green Shift ? Canadians and the Liberal party voted loud and clear on that fiasco.

      **Yes they did. However, it is still a sterling example of the Liberal Party proposing a socialist policy.**

      Canadians are NOT grasping at straws, no way in hell do we want socialists driving those portfolios and the next election will most assuredly prove that if LPC is stupid enough to merger with the NDP.

      **Henry, the main point I was trying to make was that Liberals (actually all parties) are not as ?anti socialist? as they sometimes like to claim. They adopt socialist policies quite frequently, when they believe it is good policy. The Tory government for example is miles in debt due to an ?economic stimulus? package. If Stephen Harper proposed such action in the 1920s, he would have been locked up. In short, there is no need to panic over the red horde banging down the gates? The red horde has been running the country for quite some time.**

    • I hate music says:

      Harper will have Canada demolished before the scary socialists under your bed ‘merge’ and give you night terrors. lol. You know, it’s the 21st Century, right? And the Libs have plenty of wingnuts of their own.

  12. Mike says:

    In my opinion, the problem with the merger proposal is that it leaves Canadians with an effective two-party system and a narrower concentration of political power. I think MPs and voters will become increasingly beholden to political brands rather than ideas.

    The cynical side of me says that ship may have already left the port but I don’t see a need to accelerate that trend.

    As a Liberal, I don’t want my party following the Conservative blueprint of stifling discussion and dissent in favour of populist retail politics. I think both our culture and democracy is better served by the compromises wrenched out of the current system than shallow Brand X and Brand Y politics.

  13. Namesake says:

    Well, thanks for your blessing. So, in the spirit of that new-found cooperation to wrap the session up, tell you what: you Conservatives have _our_ blessing to go get yourself a new leader. Bye, now.

  14. J Knovlev says:

    It’s an idea that would work. A merged Left would probably win the next election. As a knuckle-dragging social-conservative, it frightens me. Visions of $500 government bonus-cheques for every abortion, and euthanasia tax-rebates are giving me the chills.
    However, a merger might cut off strong Liberal-big business alliance which the Liberals always had. Secondly, the NDP have the unions in their corner. The unions have their own agenda, and tend to bite the hand that feeds them. Good luck keeping that monster in the closet.
    Paul Martin’s to blame with his shift too far Left on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Chretien was much more clever: he used Health Care as a wedge instead, and let the courts rule on social issues. Now that the Liberals have shifted Left, and calling themselves a ‘progressive party’, they’re left with getting into bed with other ‘progressive’ parties.
    The other option is return to the centre, and adopt ‘pragmatism’ (as Trudeau called it), rather than the ‘progressive’ label.

  15. Greg says:

    The trouble with Trudeau’s pragmatism is that people who are not very bright confuse it with opportunism.

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