05.09.2011 07:29 AM

Chat at Starbucks on Rideau

A guy just came up to me to say hi, he reads the web site, etc. Asked me about the chances of an NDP-Liberal merger/cooperation thing now.

Said I: “It’s a good idea, therefore it’s dead. Ottawa is where good ideas come to die.”

69 Comments

  1. Chris Pakkidis says:

    You were right –

    NDP the ‘true alternative’ to Tories, not interested in merger: Layton

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ndp-the-true-alternative-to-tories-not-interested-in-merger-layton/article2014429/

    Either Mr. Layton is correct and history will show he was the true visionary or he is wrong showing he held nothing more than immense hubris. I do find it interestting however, that the party that led the country for 100+ years is all but dead/gone and the party that has become the official opposition once is now the party to be reckoned with. Ego’s are blinding alot of people.

  2. Dr.J says:

    LOL..so true!! WK, whats up with members of the media in tears at the Iggy fairwell speech?

  3. Marc L says:

    Merge, and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to have these guys in your party — “progressives” as you like to call them.
    http://www.ndpsocialists.ca/

    • Bill M. says:

      I want no part of them but Harper bought a car company so he can’t be that opposed to socialism.

      I understand he still supports universal health care too or has that changed?

    • Mandos says:

      Oh boy how awful. Better CPP pension benefits for seniors, an end to the giant pit of global doom at Fort McMurray, and within-party proportional representation. Monsters!

      • Marc L says:

        Umm…I think you forgot to read the whole thing Mandos. Or you’re kidding.

        • Mandos says:

          *shrug* most of the web site hasn’t been updated in years. But yes, there are socialists who support the NDP. News at 11. I happen to agree with many of the things they’re talking about there, because I happen to think that unrestrained capitalism is leading us to various types of disasters, and that we need a new social order based on non-exploitative economic relations. However, that puts me to the furthest left of NDP supporters.

          • Marc L says:

            And, where did unrestrained Socialism lead us exactly — that didn’t work out well, now did it? The former USSR, Eastern Europe, Maoist China, North Korea, Cuba — not exactly bastions of economic growth and democracy. Who is talking about unrestrained capitalism anyways? And, what in heavens name is an non-exploitative economic relation?
            The only merit these guys have is that it contrast to most of Canada’s left (and I’m talking about the real left, not a bunch of Liberals calling themselves “left”), they are can at least tell what they want to replace the evil capitalist system with. Unfortunately, been there, done that, and not quite the party uncle Karl hoped for.

      • The Doctor says:

        They sure want to nationalize a lot of stuff. Wonder if they actually plan on paying for all that stuff they nationalize. Or whether they just plan on stealing it from shareholders (which would be most Canadians, via their RRSP holdings).

        Their resolution on Libya is unbelievably stupid.

      • Craig Chamberlain says:

        “NDP Socialists are against… capitalism”

      • Mandos says:

        We’re all aware of what you think, Gord. You think that the Liberals are “socialists”. Well, they are not. The NDP is mostly not socialist either—not from the point of view of someone to the left of them, at least. Who exist in larger numbers in the Canadian population than you know. And you should be glad of it when we start hitting the walls we’re about to hit.

  4. Harith says:

    Layton doesn’t need the Liberals.

  5. Dan F says:

    Its not dead because its a good idea; its dead because the NDP with over 100 MPs would have no interest in such a deal. Frankly, it would look sad and pathetic for the Liberals to go begging to the NDP at this point. I say we lay low; rebuild for 4 or 8 years, pick a leader who is *not* running for the job just to become PM one day, and watch as the Conservatives screw things up, and the NDP only provide an entertaining sideshow. The Liberal Party is not dead, and I’m not sure why people are so intent on killing it (by pushing a merger)

  6. Bill M. says:

    I’ll pass on the merger thanks.

    Anyone familiar with juggling a substantial Quebec wing will appreciate the juggling act Jack has just inherited.

    And when substantial is a majority of your MP’s, well it reminds me of the old saying “Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it”.

  7. Rob says:

    Being in Ottawa I completely agree.

    I would add the byline: “Ottawa. The Town That Fun Walked Out On.”

    A client at the US Embassy told me that on.

  8. Africon says:

    Said I: “It’s a good idea, therefore it’s dead. Ottawa is where good ideas come to die.”

    WK, that’s pretty glib and may be true about running a country but this is about a Party or two or three.

    I’d be very interested in seeing a breakdown of what you think the NDP and Libs share in policies and platforms vs where they differ.
    And then another breakdown comparing your thoughts on what the Cons and Libs share in policies and platforms vs where they differ.

    In particular, when it comes to any kind of a constitutional approach to Quebec and bringing the Province fully into this Nation – something that must be done at some point in order for Canada to realize it’s full potential as a strong AND united country.

    Personally, I can relate to many a sensible Lib like Manley or Mckenna whereas a Libby Davies type being in charge of the country would be a terrible nightmare.

    http://eyecrazy.blogspot.com/2011/05/not-to-be-outdone-libby-davies.html

    At least most Libs still have a grasp of reality, especially the ex NDP’ers like Bob Rae in their midst or those that have had Ministerial experience ( unlike Iggy ).

  9. Harvey Mushman says:

    There’s a fundamental mistake (IMO) of this idea of merging “progressive” parties.

    Labeling the Liberals, NDP, Greens and Bloc “progressives” may be a convenient and flattering moniker which is used more to highlight the (apparent) “regressive” views and ideology of “the right” and indicate some sort of high moral ground from which to rule…but that’s about where the common ground between these parties ends.

    More than anybody else, Liberals themselves should know the diversity of opinions and political ideologies within their own party. It’s been called a “centrist” party…but perhaps could just as well be called the “average” party, whose range of members averages out to be centrist. That same range of opinions and political leanings exists within all the other “progressives” as well. Looking strictly at a scale of “right to left” within each party…let’s plot them out on a piece of paper. What you’d find is that the range of each party overlaps with the next. For example, between “left-leaning” Conservatives and “right leaning” Liberals…there is an overlap of (and this is just a wild guess for discussion sake)…say…20% “overlap.”

    A similar (and perhaps higher percentage) overlap exists between “left” Liberals and “right” NDP’ers. The difference between “right” Liberals and “left” NDP’ers is huge.

    Let’s say (again for arguments sake) that you could successfully merge (just) the Liberals and NDP without losing anybody. (Crazy…but let’s pretend.) Everybody goes along with the merger and now 1+1=2 in terms of votes and seats. Now you have the Dippynewlibs party. How on earth do you manage this group where one end of the party thinks the other end is completely nuts and/or fundamentally evil? Remember how Harper successfully found “wedge” issues within the LPC? Really it wasn’t hard to split them (or the NDP) on issues like abortion or gun control or Afghanistan. Those types of topics set off internal friction, if not battles within the other parties…which only serves to damage and weaken them. Look at the Dippynewlibs now. EVERY issue is now a “wedge” issue. The Dippynewlibs can’t agree amongst themselves on anything now. Control of the caucus? Forget it. You’ll have loose cannons firing over every issue’s bow. Credibility with the public would be nil. Liberals are accused of “standing for nothing” now. What about the Dippynewlibs? How would they ever even agree on what their policies are? You’d need a leader 10X more of an autocrat than Stephen Harper to keep them all in line, muzzled and obedient trying to show they’re organized enough to rule the country.

    The reality of it is…in this case 1+1 does not =2. More likely that 1+1=4 in this case (a larger Conservative party with fresh “Manley Liberals”; a new die-hard “True Grit” party that didn’t want to merge, the Dippynewlibs and a new Socialist Party of Canada from NDP’ers who didn’t want to merge)…every single one of them…still running around proudly calling themselves “progressives.”

    • The other George says:

      I think Harvey is on to something. I am getting pretty tired myself of the left wing – right wing, centre descriptions of parties. In many respects, these descriptors are either meaningless or full of crap. A party can have socialist-oriented policies by in large, and have one plank on slowing down immigration, and it gets labelled Right Wing bordering on Fascist. Progressive. liberal, conservative, green. What the hell does it really mean? Are they just convenient handles for the media and people who can’t be bothered to scratch beneath the surface?

      To Hell with the NDP, the Greens, the Bloc, the Conservatives and their various wing-isms. Identify what the Liberal Party is all about in real terms and tell Canadians this is what the party is all about. Dippers, Cons, Bloc-ers and Greenies are welcome to join if they like what they see. If, a significant number of Canadians are not with the Liberal Party in terms of membership and voting, then Canadians have left the Liberals, not the other way around. If that is the case, then we are simply heading to the bottom of another cycle. Happened before, will happen again.

  10. Ed says:

    Dr. J
    I gotta say, I saw that rant from Ezra on Fox News North and though I can’t stand him, he was right. It was incredibly unprofessional and would have never happened with another party leader, even one who was friendly to the press. Had layton suffered the same fate as us Monday night and resigned, I’m sure it would have been somber, but no crying.

  11. Tiger says:

    The NDP — as WK predicted — thinks it has a chance to fly on its own.

    If they do well in 2015, the Grits are in a fine fix.

    If they crash and burn, and Harper gets a second majority — either the Grits are back in their old place as the primary alternative, or merger talks will commence shortly thereafter.

    (Well, there’s another option: both the NDP and the CPC flame out, and the Liberals end up back in government somehow. Don’t see how, but it’s within the realm of possibility.)

  12. WesternGrit says:

    Sea levels in BC are rising – so much that the right-leaning BC Prov Gov’t is planning to spend $$$Millions more to raise dykes around the province. Climate change reality is beginning to set in. If there is to be a Merger, I’d advocate a pairing with the Greens before the NDP. The Greens have an economic ideology similar to ours.

    I’m not a fan of any merger – but we couldn’t hurt from an awareness of an issue which could take root if we sell it properly. BC, Quebec, and much of urban Ontario are open to ideological suggestion by a “Liberal-Green” Party (or a Green-Liberal Party).

    As solid core set of “urban/suburban” policies (where 80%+ of the Cdn pop lives) including more green transit would also benefit our electoral chances greatly. Voters in the Lower Mainland of BC would jump onboard a promise to connect Lower Mainland cities to Vancouver by rail, and to expand existing rail network.

    As a matter of fact, suburban residents EVERYWHERE in Canada would jump aboard any idea that would:
    1) Lower their daily commute times (we could tell them about this with daily ads on “all-traffic” radio stations that everyone usually listens to at some time during their commute.
    2) Allow them to spend much more time with families
    3) Lower daily parking costs
    4) Lower their gas costs, and perhaps even let them sell their cars

    There are a great set of suburban issues, which could net us votes in the next election. Let’s find them.

    • Chris Pakkidis says:

      Fully Agree – we need to explore our options with the Greens. Elizabeth May showed alot of respect and admirartion towards Dion in 2006 (and vice versa) and I think there are area’s of commonality between the two parties.

    • Chris Pakkidis says:

      I aggred. One policy idea I think we should put forward for is high speed rail: Phase 1 Corridors: Montreal to Windsor (all major cities in-between), Vancouver to Winnipeg (all major cities in-between), Phase 2 Feeder sytems: Calgary to Edmonton, Lower Mainland to Vancover, Winnipeg to Toronto. etc.

      It’s bold, it’s visionary and can be sold as: improving our competiviness, keeping up with China, Japan, France, Germany, the US and other industrialzied economies, it’s efficient, it’s environmental etc.

      • Kevin says:

        No.

        If we are going to spend lots of money on trains, spend it first on rail transit within large cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, possibly Winnipeg if they get over the BRT fixation, Toronto/GTA/Horseshoe, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and off-island burbs, Quebec. Maybe down the road Halifax if it can get a handle on its sprawl.

    • Ian Young says:

      You can stick your Green pairing, WesternGrit.

      While you may be under the delusion that the Greens “have an economic ideology similar to ours”, I’ll gladly tell you that I have no interest in bringing them, or their followers, on board. They are the most anti-science/contempt of science party there is in this country.

      It is bad enough Canada has sunk to the level of having a federal NDP Agriculture critic who is is more at home wearing a tin-foil hat and pandering to fear-mongers regarding GMOs or EMF/Wi-Fi signals than actually looking for any credible evidence to support his position. The Green party’s platform to further cripple healthcare in this country relies upon allowing naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, chiropractors, and dietitians to all get in on the money and ignore the fact they trade on fear and ignorance, and not evidence to support their claims. More bullshit isn’t going to make things better.

      You actually want to partner with more boneheads like that?

      No fucking way.

      I want a better Canada.

    • The other George says:

      “Sea levels in BC are rising”

      Proof please. I live by the dyke in Richmond. Haven’t seen water levels change over the last 20 years. Any dyke work is more likely a give-money-to-your-donors from the Corporate-leaning Provincial Liberals. Just like run-of-the-river projects.

      The Carbon Agenda is starting to fizzle out. The transportation problems are not however and promoting a balance of infrastructure upgrade and public transportation support would be a good way to go.

  13. Harvey, you may be right and you may be wrong. My guess is that as non-Conservative voters muddle through the next 4 years, there will be a growing realization, a wave if you will, that says “we all gonna lose the next election just like in 2011 unless we merge”. Harper will be careful not to exacerbate that sentiment. So, unlike Warren, I don’t see Harper opening up any “moral issues”, such as the gay rights, abortion, or capital punishment files. He will have to do something to please his base, (cut public funding of political parties?) but he wants to keep the Manley Liberals on his side, because many of them voted Conservative on May 2. Plus he will try not to inflame the 60.4% of voters who did not support him.

    But I agree with Warren that this merger idea (a good idea in my books) will die well before that wave of merger realization sinks in.

    • Michael says:

      Cutting funding to political parties will not appease “the base”. That issue is small potatoes. At some point the red meat issues of gay rights, abortion, capital punishment, ect will have to be addressed to keep “the base” happy. You have to remember that “the base” thinks there is a socialist lurking behind every corner. And that the courts, the civil service and the CBC are full of socialists.

      Up until now “the base” has been kept quiet. They were told wait until we get into power, then we can make the changes. Then it was wait until we have a majority. Well now that we have a strong stable national majority (sorry had to throw that in..lol) those chickens are coming home to roost.

      Harper is not stupid. He knows that to appease the base will alienate the majority of Canadians. Even though the base does not have anyone else to vote for (at the moment), at some point they will grow frustrated by supporting their guy and getting nothing in return.

      The divide between the social/fiscal conservative and the fiscal conservatives/social progressives of the Conservative Party will be its Achilles heel.

      • does scott reid have a brain says:

        Well Michael, I guess everybody has to hope for something. Hoping someone else stumbles badly in a race instead of improving your own game isn’t how most winners win though. Looks like another voice hoping others fail instead of giving voters a reason to hope and vote for them. Please keep up this as standard Liberal thinking. The rest of us like it.

      • Africon says:

        I wonder how many Libs or Dippers here would go public in their abhorrence of the capital punishment of OBL ?
        Not to mention even the lack of a trial !!

        Odd how few protests there were in Europe, US or even in “progressive” Canada. There were a few hundred in UK.

        As a Conservative supporter, I do not believe that the so called “base” is
        a/ as large as you think and certainly much smaller proportionally than it is in the US
        b/ as extreme as you think. We are after all Canadians first and foremost – don’t believe everything you read/hear about “us”.

        Personally, I have no issues with “gay rights” or in special circumstances with cap punishment and I do have a problem with saving a fetus at the risk of the mother for example – nothing is black and white.

  14. Chris Pakkidis says:

    Winston Churchill: “Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. [Cheers.]There is a great gulf fixed. It is not only a gulf of method, it is a gulf of principle. There are many steps we have to take which our Socialist opponents or friends, whichever they like to call themselves, will have to take with us; but there are immense differences of principle and of political philosophy between the views we put forward and the views they put forward.

    Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and its own aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. [Loud cheers.] Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. [Cheers.] Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. [Cheers.] Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. [Cheers.] Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly. [Cheers.] These are the great distinctions which I draw, and which, I think, you will think I am right in drawing at this election between our philosophies and our ideals. Don’t think that Liberalism is a faith that is played out; that it is a philosophy to which there is no expanding future. As long as the world rolls round Liberalism will have its part to play – a grand, beneficent, and ameliorating part to play – in relation to men and States.”

    Source: http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/speeches/speeches-of-winston-churchill/99-liberalism-and-socialism

  15. does scott reid have a brain says:

    Libs remind me of the Maple Leafs. Continually bad, living in the past. Fans are grassroots base and the players are the backroom boys. In both situations, there is a disconnect in the feedback loop and the result is MORE OF THE SAME mediocrity every season. Keep it up, the rest of us are smiling from ear to ear, sea to sea to sea. Though unlike the Leafs, your fan base aren’t completely are drifting away to cheer for other teams. Leafs would face same fate as Libs if Balsillie or Thomson is every allowed to ice a team in the 905.

    • Michael Bussiere says:

      So more of the same of Libs would be a bad thing? More multi-billion dollar surpluses would be a bad thing? Whatever!

      • does soctt reid have a brain says:

        You missed my point so I’ll clarify for you. Self appointed mutual admiration society brain trust running the executive of the Libs is disconnected from the grassroots workers who actually get out and vote and work for candidates. So, policy and slogans fall flat as the Lib elite function as an echo chamber reinforcing bad ideas. As for the Conservatives, with a small donation or large, they keep you in the loop, seek your input, invite you out, etc. As for surpluses, those were accomplished on the backs of the provinces (and Canadians) and with the benefit of the USA internet stock market boom and housing boom. Will the Lib weatherman take credit for the sun shining too?

    • If the Libs are the Maple Leafs then the NDP are the Canucks. Much maligned, even at home and even when they are winning, so adverse are we to elevating our expectations only to be disappointed at crunch time. When they are winning people jump on the bandwagon and when all other Canadians teams are eliminated, grudgingly central Canada watches a game or two. Like the NDP, the Canucks traditionally are almost completely ignored by our fellow citizens east of us.

      Until they start winning… and winning big.

      • The Doctor says:

        Worst. Analolgy. Ever.

        Among other things, you’ve managed to insult the Vancouver Canucks. I’m not even a Canucks fan, and even I find your analogy offensive.

  16. Dude Love says:

    Now that the election is over and pundits will analyze the minutia of the results, but can you post get back to posting about music from time to time?

  17. John Larocque says:

    The combined total of the Alliance and Conservatives in Ontario in 2000 was around 38%. In the same province 4 years later, the Conservative party achieved 31.5%. What does that mean? Quite simply, you cannot expect results of a merged party the first time around. In the case of Ontario, the combined party only retained 4/5 of the original vote.

    The 38% number is interesting in other ways. It is the combined Canada-wide percent of PC’s and Reforms/Cdn Alliance in 1997 and 2000. The national PC vote had crumbled to 12% in 2000, and the Alliance had won the ground war in Ontario. Stockwell Day was capturing two votes for every vote for Joe Clark. For the PC’s, the writing was on the wall at that point – merge or die. 40% represents in some ways the upper threshold of a right-of-center party in a 2.5 party system.

    The NDP and Liberals have even less in common than Reform and the old PC’s. Some are cultural (the NDP and CCF have been fighting Liberals for 80 years), others philosophical or ideological. It would be unrealistic, as some blogs suggest, that a combined “Anybody but Conservative” party would have caused a lot of damage to Harper’s majority in English Canada on election night. Maybe half a dozen ridings would have swung left in 2011, if the mythical “LDP” had retained, say, 75% of the Liberal and NDP votes.

    On the other hand, it may have caused an incredible amount of damage in Quebec… against the NDP. The Quebec vote was a progressive “anybody but the above” vote – The Bloc, and to a lesser extent the Conservatives and the Liberals were all put in the penalty box, while Le Bon Jack swept the province. Would an anti-bloc blowout have occurred if there were a full-blown alliance between the Dippers and the Liberals, or to a lesser extent, a non-compete agreement in Liberal or NDP ridings? I’m not so sure.

    In my view, an “LDP” alliance in 2011 could not have done better than what the NDP (building on its Quebec gains) did on its own, and from the perspective of blocking the bloc, have even proven counterproductive. Now, within two or three election cycles, is it possible that a Center-left alliance capturing somewhere under 40-45% of the vote could take power? Anything is possible. But that would take a lot of work. I suspect after four years, the NDP will cement its foothold in most of its new ridings and crack the 35% barrier, and the Liberals will be in 2015 where the PC’s were after 2000 – either merge with the larger party, or die.

  18. Alex says:

    Unless we can get some kind of AV or PR electional system in place (not going to happen under the Harper majority), the only way to defeat the Cons is to merge the Liberals and the NDP. The NDP may be reluctant now, but wait until the next round of polling. Many progressives thought the NDP surge could actually stop a Harper majority, while in fact it created one. Outside of Quebec, the NDP is simply not competitive with the Cons.

  19. Phil in London says:

    Merge left? Did any of you notice how easy the unite the right idea was to pull off? It only took three Liberal majorities before the base was strong enough to minoritize the Liberals.

    Do you honestly believe your differences with the socialist NDP are as simple as those of the social conservatives of Reform and the progressive PCs? Both these parties came from fiscally similar roots and no similarity exists between true liberals (the good old grits) and true Dippers.

    The Bob Rae’s and Unjall Dosanjh’s have dilluted true liberalism and dragged it leftward. These men did not abandon their socialist roots but like Trudeau exploited a center largely devoid of values to seize a form of power.

    However, Trudeau never had a strong NDP to fend off.

  20. does soctt reid have a brain says:

    The Libs still behave like we are in a 3 channel universe and the prime channel is CBC in the hinterlands and ‘why aren’t people smart enough to vote Liberal?’

    The road back may be shorter than anticipated if the Libs can actually make a plan and be disciplined in its execution. Doubtful they have someone (other than Leblanc) with the stones to pull it off. But they will likely pass him over. If the Libs do pick him in a broad, one member, one vote leadership contest then Harper will have to be very careful

  21. Tiger says:

    Never say never.

    It means that the Tories would probably win the first election after a merger.

    The second, the third, the fourth — I bet the Lib-Dems, or whatever they’re called, would pick up.

  22. Tiger says:

    Okay, _that_ made me laugh.

    Well, live by the unions, die by the unions…

  23. Bill Templeman says:

    Africon, thanks for this. One of the casualties of trash and burn campaigning is that the electorate begins to believe the worst about each other. We pick up the atrocious lack of respect from our leaders. Lots of very decent, trustworthy and fine people of good will voted for all the political parties on May 2. If large numbers of people disagree with this proposition, then this country is doomed. We need more dialogue, less yelling at each other. The alternatives are very ugly.

    You asked about going public. If people are afraid to express where they stand on issues, our democracy is diminished. I am against capital punishment of anyone, including bin Laden. It is not so much that he deserved a trial as we deserved a trail. By we I mean humanity. And I fear that the manner in which he was killed will make the world less safe. Al Qaeda may be a spent force, and angry young Arabs are more interested in democracy than in a global Caliphate, but we may well see significant blowback from this assassination. And I hope I am really wrong.

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