04.26.2011 07:52 PM

I always liked Larry

If Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff fails to capture a majority of the votes cast against Conservative leader Stephen Harper, a Liberal senator tells Postmedia News it could be time for the Liberals and the NDP to discuss merging the centre left.

“I think this realization is coming along (to) a lots of parties,” Liberal Senator Larry Campbell said Tuesday in Vancouver.



  1. M-J says:

    Those who think the NDP and LPC will merge haven’t talked to many NDPers.

    (And note that in the earlier part of Campbell’s quote he says Harper conned PC members into joining a neo-con party.)

    • Sean says:

      I’ve talked to several NDP folks during this campaign… IE ordinary joe on the ground type guys / gals who knock on doors and put up the signs. When I bring it up, they are almost unanimously in favour of a merger. I know Liberals knocking on doors for the NDP and old NDP folks knocking on doors for Liberals *in this election.* I am also aware of a family member of a Green Candidate who wrote a cheque to the Liberal Party. That tells us all we need to know. Is it really that simple? Yes it is.

      • M-J says:

        Those who go looking for simplicity and certainty typically find it.

      • Philip says:

        I think you are on to something here Sean. The 34% increase in voter turnout at the advanced polls in a pretty big sign. Folks are feed up with the status quo and are coming out in droves to say so. The polls I worked were busy all day and the voters were all over the demographic map. Lots of young first time voters in the mix as well. This wasn’t adjust shut ins and party workers, this was all kinds of people wanting to make their opinions heard.
        Of course I have no idea how they cast their ballots but I can say this: it’s not good news for Harper and the Conservative Party. If voters were happy or generally accepting of the current government, you wouldn’t get this turnout. They would stay at home or wait until Election Day to cast their ballots. Canadians want change and I think they are going to get it May 2.
        The NDP surge can also tell us a little bit about what kind of change I think Canadian voters are saying they want. The first thing they want is something brand new. No more same old, same old. This hits both the Conservatives and my Liberal Party the hardest. Both face irrelevance if they don’t change. Both parties also brought this on themselves. The second point is the repudiation of the wannabe Republican neo-conservatism that has highjacked the Conservative Party in the last decade. Canadian voters aren’t turning out to endorse the status quo, they are turning out to change it. Five years of Harper and looking south to the Tea Party are as much of that movie as Canadians want to watch. Hence the turn to the NDP. Something brand new and a direct repudiation of the current government.

    • There are plenty who would not go for it. I do think it would create a big schism within the NDP and with their growing success, why would they?

      Why not give Proportional Rep another thought. When the time comes, agree to work in a cooperative coalition government with PR one of the must-dos of the first mandate.

      PR would solve one problem (with important spin off benefits) that merging and keeping First Past The Post will never solve — giving more electors in the west, especially in Alberta, real representation. 1/3 of voters in Alberta voted for Greens, Liberals, or New Democrats and save for one riding, none of them got representation. Not only would PR provide better representation of voter aspirations but that representation would bring much needed alternative viewpoints into regions that just don’t get much but a one-sided view of the world. Breaking up monopolies of representation (works both ways… we’d see Conservatives in cities) would be truly helpful in overcoming regional tensions that build. How else are we ever going to have rational discussions about tough topics?

      Isn’t anyone as tired of the Alberta Block as they are the Quebec Bloc? The 400 thousand some odd electors in Alberta that didn’t vote along side the other 800 thousand blue blue only blue compatriots no doubt are tired of it.

    • George says:

      “”Harper is where he is because he was able to sucker the Progressive Conservatives into joining a right-wing neo-conservative party.”

      So will it be the NDP that sucker’s the LPOC or vice-versa? Poor choice of quoted words but the effect is the same.

      In a poll conducted and reported on in today’s London Free Press question “Should the Liberals and the NDP consider merging parties and platforms to create a left-of-centre party in future elections?”

      Don’t know/refused…23%”

  2. student501 says:

    There are few other options available.

    The media, Liberals, NDP, Bloc were all laughing at the Progressive Conservatives & Reform merging years ago into the Conservatives, they aren’t laughing today.

  3. Dan F says:

    I’m sure Larry is a nice guy, but during an election campaign is not the time to muse out loud about folding up your party.

    But since he opened up the can of worms – I know many Blue Liberals, including lots of former Red Torys who left the PCs to join our club when Harper took over theirs, who have no interest in being part of a party that includes socialists. We’d be looking at a near 50/50 split if there were only 2 parties in the country, and I don’t think our democracy would be better off

    • The Doctor says:

      I think it would make Cdn federal politics more like BC politics, i.e., a left-leaning flag of convenience party versus a right-leaning flag of convenience party. Very big (and potentially uneasy and unstable) tents.

      • Craig Chamberlain says:


        The Liberals have their internal struggles over policy and direction AS LIBERALS. What can you realistically expect from a tent that includes basically eveything that the Con’s aren’t?! Please, how do you expect any agreement on a coherent platform in a party like that?! And you think the Liberals have factions now?! Just wait!

        I have a word for all of this — mergermongering. It’s unproductive. I could say the Liberal party seems to be it’s own worst enemy — but it’s not true. It’s own worst enemy are certain Liberals who use the party for their own vindictive agenda. Well, the party doesn’t actually belong to you — so get on working with and for your membership or get lost. The rest of us have an election to fight.

  4. jack says:

    Mergers like this may occur. However, they will turn out to be short term. Eventually, someone will feel the party is not left enough or centrist enough and the whole exercise will begin again. It will happen on the right again once the Cons lose again. The PC Party people already feel like its too far right but they swallow hard while they win. In the long run, the propensity will be for more parties, not fewer. If the per vote subsidy gets cancelled this may slow the timing, but in time, it will occur.

  5. ghoris says:

    We’ll have to see how it all shakes out on Monday, but right now the NDPers are really feeling their oats and will want little to do with a Liberal Party that is perceived to be in decline, especially one led by Michael Ignatieff. If Mr. Ignatieff agreed to step aside and some credible ‘left’ Liberals started pushing the initiative, then maybe the moderate elements of the NDP might get interested.

  6. fritz says:

    The problem for Liberals is that as it stands now Layton would play the role of Harper and Ignatieff would be MacKay. A lot of egos would get bent out of shape in that scenario.

  7. Thomas says:

    It will depend on the seat count. If the Liberals end up with 60 seats, Kinsella and others will join the NDP, while the remaining Liberals will support Harper in office and bide their time. It will depend on vote count, who wins, who loses, etc etc. In fact, the Liberals might actually support Layton as PM, and watch him flounder before pulling the rug out from under him when Finance Minister Libby Davies flounders. So many possibilities, so little time. Of course, Harper winning a majority will make all of it moot.

  8. artwilliams says:

    Fine and well, but let’s hope this doesn’t degenerate into finger pointing during the last few days. Liberals need to keep their stuff together until May 3rd.

  9. Nuna D. Above says:

    The Liberals were out of power for nine years under Mulroney and came roaring back. Will the majority in the party want to admit the Liberal party is no longer a national party? Do the Liberals want people named Chretien, Desmarais, Martin etc to have to pay inheritance taxes as the NDP want to propose? I don’t think it would be easy to merge.

  10. Supernaut says:

    Not in the cards. There’s no way the Dippers will ever merge with the Libs now, and the comments about the re-defection of disaffected red tories is insightful.

    So here’s another idea – work to get rid of the undemocratic and immoral first past the post system, and have every vote count. That way parties can compete on ideas, coalitions will be the norm, and everyone can look at themselves in the mirror a little more easily.

    If we we’re lucky enough to somehow end up with a coalition govt out of this mess, moving to proportional representation needs to be job 1.

    • JStanton says:

      … agreed. Our system is so broken, we can’t help but be at each others throats, because of the injustice of it all.


  11. Supernaut says:

    And one other tangential comment if I may: The National Post’s sudden and vicious attacks on the NDP are sounding a little shrill. Does anyone else sense an undertone of creeping panic?

    • Dan F says:

      I sense it too, from the Conservative pundits on TV. Their majority is slipping away. Harper and his thugs have been building to this election for almost a decade, tearing down 2 good men with attack ads to reach their goal. What they never counted on was that an electorate who would never grow to trust them would rather turn to the NDP then give neo-conservatives absolute power in Canada.
      After this failure, Harper’s career is over, and with it the united Conservative party will split again. Maybe not back into 2 parties, but at least as deep as the Chretien/Martin split was in the Liberal Party.

      The Liberals will rebuild, maybe even keeping the battle weary Ignatieff around for another campaign. It will be hard to say he’s just in it for himself after taking this one for the team. The NDP will enjoy their moment in the sun, but inevitably over-reach and fall back to earth, and the Liberal Party will earn their trust of Canadians again. Such is the circle of life, and Canadian politics.

  12. DJ says:

    Larry joined Vancouver’s leftist COPE party and won as mayor in 2002 under the banner but got fed up with far left councillors like Tim Louis, an admirer of Che Guevara. Larry split with COPE and formed Vision Vancouver with other moderates and didn’t run in 2005. Since then, COPE and Vision stay apart but run joint slates. They won a landslide in 2008 and together control city council, school board, and parks board. It’s an arrangement that worked.

  13. Lord Kitchener says:

    if this does happen, Harper, essentially, united both the right and left in our country

    • Craig Chamberlain says:

      “Luke, I’m your father!”

    • Derek Pearce says:

      That is an excellent point LK, but might me a bit premature. It may take several years and at least another election to test out whether a larger but further left party could stay united and maintain power in the Commons.

  14. Ian Young says:

    If we were just talking BC politics, I might be inclined to agree. We desperately need a viable third-party option.

    Nationally, I just don’t see it.

    • reformatory says:

      agreed- I’m not sold on the merger idea just yet and not many people who are can really articulate it in a manner to bring any doubters to their fold. The 2 party plus system has served the liberals well.

  15. Patrick Hamilton says:

    At a PC Convention in the late nineties, I remember John Crosbie thundering: “Just say no to the Reform undertakers!”

    John Crosbie 2003: “Where’s the hearse?”……

  16. Canadian Observor says:

    I doubt very much it will ever happen. The NDP preferred option is to move to a PR model, then there is not need for shotgun weddings.

  17. Curtis in Calgary says:

    Liberal Democratic Party of Canada with a combined political and legislative legacy that most Canadians cherish.

  18. Troy says:

    No way should the Liberals be thinking of a merger this early in the game. We don’t even know what the election results will be yet. Liberals may still beat the NDP on Monday night, and even if they don’t, the Liberals were reduced to 40 seats in 1984 and came back strong. The Liberal Party can re-build with a new leader and new policies. You don’t throw away a party that’s been around for over 100 years.

  19. artwilliams says:

    Warren, I think you’ve said it. The NDP, as the Official Opposition, may not be interested in a merger.

  20. Slothrop says:

    If merger talks are what it takes for the Liberals to support an NDP government, I’m all for it. It won’t happen, and the Liberal-Conservative pseudo-coalition will continue, just a little more openly.

  21. Curt says:

    What a sorry lot you all are. Vote strategically and weaken the NDP.

  22. Ted says:

    Warren and Larry channel the prescient Tommy Douglas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfGB855SQ1A

  23. Cath says:

    For this idea to have any strength and/or legs at all it needs serious consideration and inclusion from the base of both parties. Doing it any other way wouldn’t be beneficial at all to either side.

    It needs time to percolate and negotiate.

    I have to say though that the folks I know who are die-hard NDPers really can’t stand the idea. I don’t know whether it’s because they now hold sway over the Liberals….or think they do because of their supposed “surge” or if they might be waiting for Iggy’s replacement to judge whether that person is more acceptable to them? Don’t know.

  24. TDotRome says:

    I’m sure most Dippers hate the idea of a merger. I tend to the NDP side of things, but if the electoral system stays the same, than a merger must happen. But, if the way we vote changes (and becomes more fair), than a merger would be horrible for the NDP. Their independent voice would disappear into the Liberal world. Not appealling.

    And, if they were to merge and then the system change, could they separate? Probably not, meaning all that former support goes to the Greens, making them the legit third option.

    But, under the current system, vote-splitting will cause pain. They need to stay out of each other’s way.

    • Namesake says:

      that emigration’s not likely; other than the environment, the NDP and Green are actually pretty far apart: the Green’s on the right side of the political spectrum on a lot of issues, not the left.

  25. Phil in London says:

    Wouldn’t a merger of the Bloc and the Liberals make more sense? I mean they share common policy in being hell bent on helping themselves to the trough and destroying this country. You keep talking about the Conservative failure but the real story is how these two felt they could push Jack around and beat the snot out of his MPS and not they are both cowering in their lairs hoping to save the furniture. Thanks to both The Count and the Traitor for triggering this mess

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