05.04.2011 09:15 AM

Unity: the way forward

Walkom, writing the column every progressive should read:

“…any talk of cooperation will not be easy. Liberal activists are used to fighting the NDP and vice versa. In parts of the West, the word “Liberal” is viewed as a curse word by NDP voters. In parts of southern Ontario, the reverse holds.

More important, the NDP is riding high on its election triumph. It’s the official opposition. It has seats in Quebec. Old dreams of squeezing out the Liberals and turning Canada into a two-party, left-right state have been revived.

This euphoria cannot last. NDP voters will soon realize that, even as leader of the official opposition, Layton has no influence over a Harper majority government. He will also be hard-pressed to navigate between a party that is traditionally centralist and a new Quebec voting base that is anything but.

As well, the Liberals are not a spent force. What happened Monday was not a repeat of the 1993 tsunami that left the old Progressive Conservatives with just two seats in the Commons. The Liberals still have MPs from every province except Alberta.

Eventually, both parties will be forced to face the mathematics of the situation. Each wants to be the one to defeat the Harper Conservatives. Neither can do it alone.”

 

112 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    So because the libs suck the NDP has to merge? If the situation was reversed the Libs would be happy especally with their gains in Quebec. But, since the reality is the Libs lost big the NDP has to join them. This sense of entitlement by Libs doesn’t end. “We lost big so you have to join us so we can win.”

    • Lance says:

      The NDP likely realize that and will most likely say, “A merger? No thanks.”

      • George Webb says:

        If this is the Dipper attitude God help Canada. The militarists in the Neo-con camp called the 90’s “the decade of darkness”, if this is the prevalent attitude in the NDP the teens will be “the decade of darkness” for Canada. Imagine Stephen Harper retiring after the 2023 election with 3 consecutive majorities and having been Canada’s longest continuously serving PM. All progressives in this country had better be prepared to put some water in their wiskey or thats how the next decade will end. As a once proud Pinko commie Trudeau Alberta Liberal I am prepared to be humble and I pray Jack Layton and the NDP will reflect and be gracious a liberal democratic party (note no capitals) is Canada’s only hope for the future.

        • Canadian Observor says:

          As a CURRENT godless commie pinko* Alberta New Democrat I have to totally disagree with you. We saw what Martin did, and we are convinced that there is no practical difference in how you would govern if given the chance again. Running from the left while governing from the right has made you Conservatives with table manners, it doesn’t make you Progressive by any stretch of the imagination. Our decision will be reached at by examining the Liberal record, not the image the LPC sees of itself when it gazes into its looking glass and frankly, most of us are of the view that this past election has seen the total number of conservatives in the House drop from 219 to 201.

          —-
          *Actually, since it is entirely accurate, I was going to go for the trifecta and describe myself as a commie pinko fag… but I am not sure if Warren or the moderator or whatever gets pissy about that kind of language or not.

    • Loraine Lamontagne says:

      Am I wrong to observe that the NDP’s gains are mostly in QC? You can grow from 60 to 75 seats in QC but that won’t take you to 24 Sussex.

  2. Chris says:

    If a merger is going to work the NDP needs to shift right a bit or the new party will bleed blue Liberals.

    • Craig Chamberlain says:

      Not “will bleed” but “has bled and will continue to bleed…” if there is a merger.

      Was or was not Mr. Harper’s majority was thanks to an anti-NDP vote in Ontario that included Liberals?

      I really have to question the assumption that we can just add voter numbers and presto we can defeat the Conservatives.

      • Michael S says:

        Blue Liberals are gone baby gone. They are going to be cosseted by Stephen Harper like a new kitten. Word is he’s practicing a killer Peter Gzowski imitation.

  3. nastyboy says:

    The LPC is dead in the water. They’ll merge with the NDP on the NDP’s terms.

  4. Robert Henderson says:

    Ummmm. Yes. While the NDP are figuring it out in Vegas, the Liberals will rebuild. However running off to India to find ourselves and write “Eat, Love, Liberal” isn’t the way. Begin the war now.

    Rat Pack – the Sequel would show Canadians the Liberals are the real opposition. Get aggressive, get creative and get attacking. For those who want to lead the Party? Call it on the Job Interview for the Future Successor.

    While we are staring at our navel, the “war room” process needs to be running independent of the rebuilding process. The Gloves come off. In addition an attack on Harper is an attack on Hudak. Sadly Harper will keep is hidden agenda on ice until after the Ontario election.

    Robert

    • Mandos says:

      But…they’re not the real Opposition. Not even notionally. How can they run from their cuts to the CHST? On the issues that matter, their (recent!) historical credibility is poor. If Harper keeps his word and stays out of gay rights and abortion, then on the economic front there won’t be that much to distinguish him from the same policy history as Mulroney and the two Liberal PMs since.

      • VH says:

        then on the economic front there won’t be that much to distinguish him from the same policy history as Mulroney and the two Liberal PMs since.

        well, except for the record $40B+ annual deficits Mulroney & Harper run, sure there’s not much to distinguish between them and Chretien/Martin. Running large annual deficits that need to be paid off by your grandchildren is a feature, not a bug, of conservative idealogy. It’s stealing but the victim isn’t old enough to know they’ve been stolen from.

        • Mandos says:

          Both the ideological left and the right know that the deficit is of, at best, tertiary importance obsessed over by fusty centrists and the ignorant. Our grandchildren will not in reality pay a cent of that if they don’t want to, given other forms of social prudence no less important than the immediately fiscal. Neither do, by the way, the Eurozone countries except according to the unfavorable strictures to which they have bound themselves.

          What matters is concrete results and the Liberals under Chretien and Martin produced a social deficit that Stephen Harper surely envies.

          • VH says:

            I have no idea what you just wrote but I do know that this: “Our grandchildren will not in reality pay a cent”
            simply is false.

            Gov’ts make interest payments to debt holders every month of every day that is paid for out of current account taxes.

          • Mandos says:

            Google “MMT”. The debt payments that the government makes are not the same as household revolving credit card debt payments. This is known by the ideological right and the left.

          • JenS says:

            I couldn’t understand it either, except for that one sentence that was coherent but incorrect.

          • Mandos says:

            You are not following international finance. It turns out that the USA cannot go “bankrupt” merely on the size of its enormous debt, because the debt has actually little to do with its actual finances. That’s why it can fight unlimited wars and still sell bonds—the American right figured this out correctly. European countries DO have debt problems but that’s because they are not sovereign in their currencies.

            The federal deficit is a Canadian obsession that has very little to do with the actual productive capacity of the country—of any country that is sovereign in its currency. What is paid on it does not really affect your grandchildren as long as they are employed and productive.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The math is pretty simple. If Harper hadn’t merged back in 2003, he would still be opposition leader today. Surely, Liberals can see that and not let idiots like Scott Reid and Alf Apps determine their future.

  6. Curt says:

    4 MP’s from Western Canada. Somethings got to change.

    • nastyboy says:

      The Liberal party of Toronto hates the west. That will never change.

      • TofKW says:

        Ya, just like how the Reform party of Alberta hated the east.

        Oh wait, they merged with the PCs and learned to love Ontario.

        You’re missing the whole point, merger means blowing up the existing structures and building something new. Get it?

    • Change could start right now. This certainly will not solve the LPC’s problems in the west but for BC at least you can make Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray the senior Liberal MP for BC. Do not make the chronologically senior MP, Hedy Fry, in charge of anything. Why? She could not be elected in any other riding in B.C. and for no other reason she should not be leading any charge other than her own, if that.

      Free advice, good advice, and I’m not even a Liberal.

      As for Walkom’s column, I don’t know how long his head has been stuck in an igloo but the NDP isn’t reviving “old dreams of squeezing out the Liberals”. That has been the plan – not just a whim but a road map – for the past two if not three elections and probably we could argue ever since Layton was elected leader. This isn’t the first time nor even the first year I’ve made this point.

      Arrogance is not becoming but Liberals have demonstrated a great deal. How dare the NDP help Harper bring down Martin. How dare the NDP help Harper and not help the Liberals. Relying on NDP voters and fear of Harper — how is that working out? At least they’ve been single minded as to their objective. Grow the base. Grow support. Gain seats. Become the alternative. Ignore the Liberals.

      Despite the label “Conservative” attached to Harper’s party, the lineage of the party that Sir John A MacDonald started was broken. The Party might as well be called the Canadian Alliance and I’m not using that label as a pejorative but to state an appropriate fact. Even today the CPC is a party with Reform’s western roots retaining its western power and character. In the end the name and history has not mattered.

      There is no reason at all to believe or assume Liberal party is immune to a similar fate.

      Meanwhile, you can bet the NDP are planning out the next four years with a view that election 42 will give them a real opportunity at finishing the job they started when Layton came on board.

    • Cliff says:

      Four MPs from the West, three of whom (Goodale, Lamoureux and Fry) won on personal popularity, not the Liberal brand.

      The problem is only going to get worse as population (and therefore influence) is shifting to the West and suburban Ontario, both of which will be getting significant numbers of new seats to correct the current population imbalance in the House. Meanwhile more than a third of the Liberal caucus comes from Atlantic Canada, a region where population is continuing to decline relative to the rest of the country. In other words, the long-term demographic trends are not encouraging.

      “Screw the West, We’ll Take the Rest” is simply not an option anymore.

  7. TofKW says:

    Oh really Dave?!?!

    Was it the Progressive Conservative’s ‘entitlement’ that caused them to recognize they can’t win alone, and to dismantle the party of Sir John A in order to create an effective counter-force against the Liberal Party?

    I can’t see any Liberals honestly thinking any more that they can envelop the NDP and continue as if things never changed. Merger means dismantling the other great party of confederation for good.

    A new party uniting the NDP+Libs would not have any ‘entitlements’ – this is something new from the ground up. Dippers and Grits need to realize that if merger is being seriously considered.

  8. Oh, look at how the NDP and Lib supporters are fighting already and it’s only election day plus 2. Looks like Walkom is right about the mutual dislike.

    • nastyboy says:

      This is nothing. Wait until the remaining Libs start picking over the corpse of the party. The bickering and in-fighting will go on for years before they decide they’ll never be a viable political force again and have no choice but to merge.

    • Jeremy Bloom says:

      … And that’s JUST FINE.
      The trick is:
      WE NEED TO BE BICKERING UNDER THE ROOF OF THE SAME PARTY.
      Then we can fight all we want on our own time, and then UNITE for the election instead of dividing the vote three ways.

      • Michael S says:

        This is why Stephen Harper, like all good villains, installed a trapdoor leading to a pool of hungry alligators at CPC headquarters. Apparently he’s read the Internet guide to Evil Overlords.

  9. Mark says:

    Here’s the solution in my opinion: Primaries.

    We need the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens to form a formal alliance/coalition/whatever whereby they have primaries before the election. This process could involve STV or some kind of proportional representation. The winner of these primaries gets to compete for the seat in that riding, the other two parties don’t run candidates. The leader of the party that wins the most primaries becomes PM should the alliance win the election. It allows some kind of PR system to function within the FPTP system without the need for constitutional change. Equally important it addresses the issue of vote splitting. It also allows the parties to keep their brands and the option to opt out should they feel its ineffective, like a merger with a money back guarantee.

    Thoughts?

    • Mark says:

      Further to my comment above, it allows the public to feel as though they had a choice. If a coalition were to simply involve an agreement not to compete in certain ridings, there might be public backlash because of a sense they weren’t given the option of selecting party x. This gives them that choice in the primaries.

    • hitfan says:

      A single united party would be best for the Left. As much as I enjoy seeing vote splitting helping my favored party (the Conservatives), the 2 major center-left parties will have to one day decide to combine forces.

      A united left would definitely hurt the Conservatives in the short term, but eventually, voter fatigue along with the Conservatives’ desire to expand their constituency would mean that they would become competitive again. A political center would eventually be found and the 2 main parties can then compete for votes under that context.

      But there would be a sizable number of blue liberals who would also defect to the Conservatives once the merger occurs. Just as many “red Tories” defected to the Liberals when Reform and the PCs merged. Sometimes you have to break eggs to make an omelet.

      What should the name of a united Liberal-NDP party be called?

      “Liberal Democratic Party” (obvious, but too obvious)
      “Progressive Party” (might cause confusion with the provincial PC parties)
      “Liberal Party” ? (NDP might not like appearing to be absorbed into the party they just beat for the #2 spot, the name also causes problems in Alberta)

      • Ted H says:

        How about the “Democratic Party” since that party in the US encompasses constituencies comparable to those of both the NDP and Liberal parties. The Conservatives will then be freed to rename themselves the “Republican Party”.

        • hitfan says:

          Names are anachronistically funny sometimes. Republican is a term that means ‘anti-monarchist’, which would be strange in a Canadian context considering that we have a Queen of Canada (symbolic and neutered, of course).

          The US Republican Party was the “left-progressive” party of it’s day, especially in the time of Lincoln. It was the Republican Party which advocated for black and later women’s suffrage. Republicans were staunch advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment up until the time of Reagan.

    • Pedro says:

      Sounds nice and probably effective.
      Who pays for this?
      More of the collective Libs/NDP/Green coffers is greater than the sum of the parts?

      • Dan F says:

        Since you would need a membership in one of the parties to vote in the primary, and membership has a cost ($10-$20?) the process would actually improve fundraising for everyone.

    • Aside from the fact that you’d need the sitting government, the Conservatives, to pass legislation changing the Elections Act to allow for and most importantly, pay for, this new electoral mechanism… it’s an idea.

      It’d be better to have full out electoral reform and get PR done.

      The only national party advocating this is the NDP, even after their big win senior party folks continue to reconfirm this support, emphatically.

      Libby Davies and party elder Ed Broadbent yesterday said PR remained a priority for them; Broadbent was particularly emphatic.

      Today I note in the local paper my MP Don Davies also talking about PR. By the way, he won his riding with an increase in popular support, pulling in more than 50% of the vote.

      The NDP seems committed to supporting electoral reform and PR even though if implemented today would likely see their seat count reduced. Some Canadians might see their integrity on this as appealing.

      • Mark says:

        You wouldn’t need the government to pass anything at all. The Libs, Greens, and NDP could simply agree set up their own vote outside of elections Canada to determine who runs candidates in which ridings. An STV or alternative vote system would allow them to figure out who is the ideal candidate of constituents, rather than wasting time and money doing that in an election campaign.

        @Dan F: I disagree with only allowing party members to do this as party membership in a riding isn’t necessarily indicative of party support, thus the system may then fail to select the voter’s first choice.

        • You are talking about engaging the machinery of parties in your system, not the electorate. That’s a mistake.

          It is the electorate which matters, not party members.

          If you want to promote a loose coalition you still have a coalition which effectively is a party that stands for many things but not all things to all party members and somehow then stands for nothing or will be portrayed as such. I see loose electoral cooperation as a non starter. All in or all out.

          That said, for my own part I plan on taking the advice I’m about to dish out: pretend there are no parties and then figure out how you’d organize not to “win” but to serve best. Chances are whatever that configuration happens to look like will not only serve Canadians best but will also be a winning proposition to put before voters.

          Ok, now what?

  10. Proud_Canadian1 says:

    the liberal party will have a tougher time than you may realize! Mr. John Baird was interviewed on CBC and the question was asked if the gov’t would eliminate the political parties subsidies in one word he said “YES!” Combine it to being the third party in the house receiving a lot less money and less face time it won’t be a cake walk for liberals!

  11. Ottawacon says:

    I am not convinced the left wing of the Liberal Party’s old base is substantially larger than the right. Most of the traditional Liberal voters I know are profoundly uncomfortable with both the Conservatives and the NDP, usually voted Liberal but would vote PC when angry – or the NDP when they were confident that the NDP could not win.

    A Liberal-NDP merger is part of Harper’s endgame, after all.

  12. Steven says:

    Talk of merger is a bit premature and desperate.

    Layton may be a HOAG but he also made what was described by objective commentators as unreaslistic and, in the case of Quebec and the Constitution, rather reckless. These insights unfortunately at the end of the campaign after everyone effectively lost interest in the details.

    The NDP benefitted primarily from the collapse of the BQ, the latter of whose voters were not likely to ever vote Liberal in any event. To say that they are now beholden to Quebec’s interests would be an understatement.

    In Ontario, many of the Liberals who lost to Conservatives lost because the 3rd place NDP votes were from voters who could not stomach voting either for the Conservatives or the Liberals.

    I think it will be better to see how the NDP handles the “bag” handed to them by Quebec voters, before running blindly into a merger. Remember too that the Layton and the NDP opposed the Clarity Act.
    Any merged party would still have to define itself to Canadians, and decide whether it can speak for the majority of Canadians.

  13. Bill M. says:

    How long before the progressives in the CPC tire of their own politics.

    And when does the far right base demand its pound of flesh in a majority.

    If the LPC merges with the NDP, many centrists, including me, will not follow. Nor will I vote CPC.

    Guess I’ll just sip my Redbreast and pine for days long gone.

  14. Ted H says:

    The old PC party was reduced to two seats at one point but even when they were ultimately absorbed by the then much larger and stronger Reform party they had valuable organizational infrastructure and contacts and a history in parts of Canada that Reform did not. Thus they still had much to offer the new Conservative party. In terms of seats, the NDP is now larger than the Liberals but the LPC still has organizational infrastructure and contacts and experience that would be valuable if a merger could be considered and eventually worked out. It is not a one way street.

    • Anonymous says:

      And with the new Ontario caucus, the Conservatives will soon become very much like the Harris conservatives rather than the Manning reformists. And then you will see splits showing up. Hard to believe Charles McVety is going to be quiet over the next four years.

    • You folks are always waiting for “something” to happen with the Conservatives. Assuming that they’ll undo themselves thus allowing a triumphant return of the Liberal party is not a winning strategy since it relies upon the unproven assumption that the Conservatives will fail to adapt as necessary.

      If Liberals learn nothing from election 04, 06, 08, and 11, should it not be that the Harper Conservatives if anything have been able to adapt just fine thank you very much?

      Blow up all that old thinking, fast, or the party will fully earn its own oblivion.

      • ooh, sloppy editing on my part left a double negative.

        Probably apropos… kinda like the last two campaigns.

        • On the other hand, maybe the NDP will churn away following the Mulcair Day Two pattern: shove foot firmly in mouth and look crazy / make your party, which is now the Official Opposition, look crazy.

          And he previously looked like one of the sane ones. Somehow I bet the 19 year old’s elected would have done a better job with that question.

  15. Africon says:

    I do not think that Walkom got it right.
    There is much more to learn from the British lesson than from the PCPC/Reform lesson.

    In UK there are 2 parties, one represents the “working class” and one the “middle class”.

    Clearly the NDP represent the “working class” ( and many well heeled union types with portfolios are actually “middle class”) and the Cons the “middle class”.
    I do not believe that the great majority of Libs are “working class” types.
    In the last 3 elections where did most of the typical Chretian Lib vote go – the Cons or to the NDP ?

    Look long and hard at future trends in Canada, LISTEN to the average voter ( something that neither the Libs or the Bloc have done for a while ).
    Second point – Demographics are taking every modern country to the right.
    Third point – Geography is helping the Cons and hurting the Lefties, slowly but surely.
    Fourth point – the move to the right by the typical damned hard-working “ethnic/new immigrants ” will continue.

    As in UK, at the end of the day the Lib Dems joined forces with the Cons and not Labour which promptly moved left, into the wilderness with Red Ed.

    Last point, the Libs need to start from the ground up – look at what has been happening to Lib Provincial parties across the country – that needs to be fixed to have any hope of success. I do not know the answers to this but with whom did a few Lib Provincial parties merge in BC or Sask ?

  16. M says:

    Does Canada really want a two party system and the shrill populist rhetoric that is sure to come with it?

    Are we really a country whose political life is going to be boiled down to two simplistic and sophistic extremes?

    I hope not, but I fear so.

    In my view, the left is united, and currently united behind a moustache and a stack of bush league MPs. Let me repeat, the future of the NDP as an Opposition force in 2011 is entirely predicated on the whims of Quebec as charmed by a man whose mortality is a continually pressing concern (and God bless, I wish him well).

    If the NDP currently has the momentum, and they do, it’s been earned by Jiu Jitsu politics at our expense and is the logical result of bad leadership, complacency and laziness from centrist moderates. Lets face it, most of us in the centre don’t donate, don’t volunteer and don’t really engage until something particularly stupid wakes us up.

    I know the LPC is bruised and battered, but there remain centrist voters. They need to become engaged. I think four years of the rabid partisan nonsense is going to do it. The LPC needs to position itself to take those voters back.

    Look, there has never been a better or more efficient time to rebuild the grassroots of any political party. Rather than selling out Canada and centrist voters to a polarized national debate, I think it’s time for our actions to match our rhetoric and “fight for the Canada we want.” None of the folks talking merger have so much as picked up a shovel so I sense this is more about regaining power than it is about Canada.

    It’s time to fight the extremists distorting our politics. A renewed LPC needs to be young, modern, and centrist. And in my view, its members need to put their money where their mouth is and be ready to burn their houses down for electoral reform the way evangelicals would to outlaw abortion.

    This is exactly the sort of time when leadership matters most.

    I know where I stand and it ain’t behind a moustache.

    Who’s with me?

    • The other George says:

      I have been thinking the same thoughts as you have.

      One thing I would like to see as part of the grassroots is a Liberal shadow-constituency office in every non Liberal riding. If you don’t feel like your existing MP is listening or is browbeaten by his or her leader or is just plain useless, then drop on by to the local Liberal office and we will listen to your concerns. We will forward your concerns to MPs we do have to provide them with an opportunity to do something if possible, and we will take your concern to the Liberal Party policy panel to see how this can be addressed in Liberal Party policy.

      It does not have to be fancy. It can be as modest as a local Liberal who is willing to have a phone and SOHO in his or her house. A couple of ads in the local newspapers every once in a while… and you are up and running. It also give a chance to gauge the interest of locals to party policy and prospective or existing candidates and leaders. Far better than any focus group or pollster.

    • hitfan says:

      Here in Alberta where I live, it’s effectively a one-party system. I for one welcome the creation of the Wildrose Alliance Party. Let the PC party become the center-left party and Wildrose become the center-right. The political center of Alberta might appear horrific to Eastern Canadians, but it’s the reality. Sometimes you can’t choose the electorate that you have. If Canadians are coalescing on left-right issues, then it makes sense to have unity on the left.

    • WesternGrit says:

      I am. So are hundreds of my personal Liberal friends across the country. Merger is sheer idiocy. I plays into EXACTLY what Harper wants: a US-style polar dialectic, where the Democrats govern the odd time, but the Right wing Republicans are the “natural governing party” dominating politics. Why? In a two party state, the business and media interests join forces (particularly with our small number of mostly private media outlets) to fight the “workers/unions”. That would be it. Instead of a Canada where the middle is the largest, we would polarize like the USA.

      Not an option for me.

      Now “cooperation” is something else. Something to consider in the meanwhile. Also look to the Greens. Like in the EU they have a clear chance to become a major player. They are “green”, but also fiscally “responsible”.

    • Africon says:

      “It’s time to fight the extremists distorting our politics.”

      You must be talking about most of our media who fail to understand free speech and debating both sides of an issue without bias.

  17. Dan F says:

    Can’t imagine Irwin Cotler and Libby Davies in the same party, ever.

    • Warren says:

      Good point.

      Kick her out!

      • Dan F says:

        But then you only re-create the same problem. The extremists in the NDP (about half of them) go off and start their own party, and we’re back to the same place in a few years.

        • Warren says:

          Well, then let’s continue to disappear!

          Do you want a solution, or a debate?

          • Dan F says:

            The merged Conservatives kept their extremists on board, just muzzled them to keep a lid on what they really believe. It was the desire for power that kept them together. I don’t think its possible with the NDP, for ideological and other reasons, to keep a lid on some of their more extreme views.

            The NDP also have no reason at this point to entertain the idea of a merger, since they see themselves as only a few seats away from forming a government now. Why would they even talk to us?

            And after they are wiped out in Quebec (recall the ADQ) in the next election, why would we talk to them?

            I think the solution in each riding is a progressive primary, where the Liberals, NDP and Greens hold a vote amongst the collective (paid) membership to choose the one progressive candidate/party for that riding. It will also be a boost to fundraising as people join to participate.

          • M says:

            I want a debate. But joining forces is silly.

            It’s 2011. A retreat to Left/Right politics is a black and white solution to political issues that exist in HD technicolour.

            We’re supposed to be smarter than Conservatives – can’t we convince each other and Canadians to agree on a third way?

          • Mandos says:

            It’s not a question of a solution or a debate. The Canadian system allows the existence of an ideological left-wing party that has a shot in the worst case of holding balances of power and putting up a prominent pulpit for the left. I would not support a party that would kick out Libby Davies.

  18. Brian Appel says:

    It’s time we take a look at the results of the election and realize what we have here: We have a Liberal Party that was told by the collective Canadian public that their brand of wishy-washy, arrogant, entitlement-driven politics was no longer welcome. And we have an NDP that rode in on a wave of protest and, unless they moderate their policies and whip their swarm of placeholder candidates-turned-MP’s into shape, will be swept out on an equally large wave in 2015.

    Unless things change with both parties, we could be witnessing the beginning of a Conservative dynasty in Canada; that’s why it’s time to put aside our differences, get the left together and create a party that can challenge the Conservatives next time around!

    That’s why, when it times for the Liberals to pick a new leader, we should band together and demand that the candidates support opening discussion about merging. If a candidate doesn’t support discussion in that direction, then they shouldn’t get our support. They won’t get mine, anyway.

  19. does scott reid have a brain says:

    So other than be in power, what do Libs want to do? What specific policies do they have that would motivate anyone to vote for them? Rhetorical question with long silence. It’s gonna be fun watching Libs flail around for years. (As Canadian society moves forward with good govt and policies.)

  20. billg says:

    Ralph Goodale as interim for 2 years…by then the NDP will be a fractured party due to the Quebec influence and, they will be so sick and tired of being in opposition and watching Harper smile and nod during question period while reading his Archie comics that they’ll come to their senses…then, BAMMO…merge. God…do I have to do everything!

    • Loraine Lamontagne says:

      Fractured due to the Quebec influence… I have memories that date back, and since yesterday I’ve had SoCred on my mind : a party founded out West for anglos, that got a surge a popularity in Quebec, winning 26 seats in 1962, which led to its loss of support in the rest of Canada.

      Liberals cannot for one moment think that they’re much better off with 30 some MPs than the the Progressive-Conservative Party was in 1993 with two – in terms of percentage of the vote, it’s pretty much the same. The new 59 MPs from Quebec will change the NDP, and I am not sure that this will make it more ‘mainstream’, more electable . A new party, not the NDP, not the LPC, would have a better chance of defeating The Harper Government in 2015.

      Iif the Conservatives can split, change their names, change their names again, split again, rejoin and change their names again… and win, there’s a lesson here. Problem is how do we do it in three years?

  21. Cath says:

    Warren – the one thing that’s missing in the grand plan of a merger is that unless the discussion begins on the ground and the need is recognized there first then followed up on it’s bound to fail for the reasons many here have suggested.

    To start completely fresh means leaving old notions, ideals, and baggage at the door. If that means tossing those who can’t do that then tough cookies. It’s the baggage that’s going to kill it before it gets off the ground.

    I wasn’t always conservative. Provincially I once supported the NDP – Bob Rae fixed that for me. Federally, I hated the old boys of the PCs who weren’t even coming close to being the kind of party a young, ambitious female felt represented her at the time.

    I voted Chretien until Martin…..I then met some young conservatives who introduced me to the president of the NCC. There was a building of the CPC at the time of inclusiveness and a willingness to absorb any and all ideas MOSTLY from the ground up at first.

    I haven’t ever looked back. The party grew with me and I grew with it.

    Can that change? Don’t know.

  22. A Liberal riding president says:

    Jack will move more to the left given his makeup of folks in his caucus.

    Steve will move more to the right because that’s who he is.

    The center will be more wide open than we ever thought in 4-8 years.

    But first we have to figure out what ‘center’ means to the Liberal party, communicate that to Canadians, and have the policies and actions to back it all up.

    Lots of hard work ahead… no easy solutions… who’s in for a fun 8 year ride?

    • VH says:

      Well before “policy” there should be some set of principles. That’s how “policy” gets made right? you start with your principles and try to apply them to the situation at hand and come up with a policy, right?

      Speaking for me only, I have no idea what the federal liberal party has stood for since Chretien retired. Well, other than “deep cynicism for the voter” but I guess that shouldn’t count as a guiding principle.

    • WesternGrit says:

      EXACTLY. We did a shitty job of BEING centrist, and a shittier job of explaining it. Our communications were horrible, and we let 5 years of attack ads define us, by being the “nice guys”.

      • Warren says:

        I’m not nice.

      • Precisely, Mr. Western Grit. Ignatieff was not allowed to take stands on key issues. Apart from jets and jails, most people, and here I will reference Warren’s Gut, did not really know what the LPC stood for in this election in terms of policies, other than a basket full of bland embellishments and bobbles.

        So:

        1) The LPC and NDP have to merge
        2) The merged party has to take stands on key policy issues and get the word out to voters

        Please no more proud blathering about preserving the Liberal brand. The brand lives, but the party needs to merge, otherwise the brand will become a quaint museum piece.

    • Africon says:

      “Jack will move more to the left given his makeup of folks in his caucus.”

      “Steve will move more to the right because that’s who he is.”

      I wouldn’t count on either premise, I’d suggest that both of these gents have become more moderate over the last few years because they know where the votes are.

  23. Andrew Opala says:

    Read this: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/05/04/the-really-new-democrats/

    And tell me if an experienced or properly trained public servant is going to want to hand out with “executives in the Medieval Sword Club” or Quebec candidates who don’t speak French.

    Canadians deserve the government they voted for! They absolutley do.

    • Loraine Lamontagne says:

      Delightful. I can’t wait to see and hear these young MPs in the House. I haven’t watched CPAC in four years, but I will this time, for these young people. It may make politics fun and engaging again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’re not angry and bitter already.

      Funny to see that it took a karate teacher and executive with the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild to beat a Cannon! Hopefully Mr. Layton will get these young MPs out in the communities to meet young Canadians. It’s an opportunity that I don’t remember seeing in federal politics. It’s always been mostly about men, if not older men. Lots of young ladies and young men. Haven’t seen it in the news, but I would imagine there will be a lot more women in the HoC. This actually fills me with joy.

  24. Domenico says:

    You just have to look at percentage of popular vote split between the Liberals and NDP in most riding to see the appeal of a merger. Yes even in Western Canada where I live. I am not worried about the potential left wing versions of Myron Thompson. They will get dragged to the centre or leave.

  25. dave says:

    Our 18th Century First Past the Post pushes us into only two parties. Our House of Commons is physically set up to favour only two parties, one for, and one against.
    Maybe our institutions are forcing us to think of only two parties as being adequate representation of all the experience, ideas and points of view that we have in this country.
    The Conservatives, in 2008, deliberately misrepresented the way that our Westminister style of parliamentary democracy works in the kerfuffle about ‘coalition.’ They have been found in contempt of parliament. So maybe we need some changes in our institutions.

    I know it is hard to do: a party in power wants to keep the system that gave them power; the opposition seems to be ok with maintaining the system that will eventually give them their turn. So it is hard to see where there is power to make any changes.

    If we had proportional, or even partial proportional, election of our legislatures, the panic about merger would not be so stark.

    • Andrew Opala says:

      Proportional doesn’t work the way you say. It actually produces more coalition and multi-party returns than the FPTP riding methodology.

      Contituency-based voting works great if there are geographic power bases that can get together (like Ontario and Quebec, or Ontario and the Prairies). What we have been seening in the last half-century in Canada.

      A more complicated, but seemingly better system is the Approval Voting system where you vote for as many people in your riding that you approve of. Then the one with the most approval wins. So say you like the NDP guy and the Liberal, and others just like the Liberal. The Liberal makes it. What happens here is the strategic voting is build in. The second type of AV voting is the ranking system. And what happens is that, the voter votes once and ranks the people they like in order of who they want to win. Then the counting system drops off the losers and redistributes their votes to the remainder based on second rank, and so on, until (theoretically) someone has more than 50% of the approval.

      These two AV methods have shown to be more flexible than the FPTP method, but they haven’t been used anywhere just yet. The English are mulling this method over as we speak.

      • dave says:

        I was not clear.
        I agree that proportional produces coalition and multi party returns.

        FPTP, to me, skews the results so that the % seats is often a lot different than the % vote for a party. ( I know, we supposedly vote only in our own constituancy for one candidate – but I am thinking here of cross the country %’s)
        FPTP also exacerbates regional differences, so that all Alberta looks conservative, while all Quebec looks NDP. This leaves out all the Albertans who chose differently – including those who don’t bother voting because they know who will win : – same for Quebec.
        10 years ago,here in BC, Green Party leader, Carr tried to bring in a partial proportional system. Her idea was to have geographic consitituancies, as FPTP, based on the 34 federal constituancies, and the rest of the seats assigned by proportional rep.
        Her petition to have referendum on it failed by getting just under the 60% approval it needed.
        Then the BC Lib gvt called together abut 150 citizens in an assembly. They recommended something like what you are mentioning, but that referendum failed. I figure it failed because it was a bit more complicated, and a harder sale than the Carr suggestion was.
        Seems to me that in England that they are voting within days on the AV.

        Scotland has their legislators sit in a rough horseshoe, with everyone facing the speaker’s chair. I wonder how that would affect the dynamic in our House of Commons: just the physical way of seating might push people more toward discussion, rather than debate.

        Liberals, being a middle of the road party, always, to me have the problem of defining their goals. The more extreme a party, the easier, (and the more sale-able on the media) it is to sell a message. Middle of the road parties have a harder time selling analysis and discussion than do parties selling hard edged ideology.

  26. does scott reid have a brain says:

    The Libs have become a group of self-congratulatory JOkE CLARKs. We must rebuild, we will rebuild, blah, blah. This party lacks people committed to doing the actual work. As Dr. Phil says, “So how’s that working for y’all?”

  27. does scott reid have a brain says:

    Libs will likely pick leader one election too late like the last few – shoulda picked Manley over Martin, shoulda picked Iggy over Dion, shoulda picked Leblanc over Iggy. If I were a betting man, Libs will look for another messiah and go for underwhelming Trudeau progeny. Leblanc is the one who can bail out the party but can they figure it out?

  28. wassup says:

    1+1=1.25. The remaining Liberal faithful are from from Socialists and they will not simply roll over for Jack and his merry band of amateurs.

    At least half will migrate to the Conservative Party of Canada when they realize that Jack & Yvette are planning to nationalize the economy and appoint Buzz ‘I’M A UNIVERSITY PROF TOO!” to run the Bank of Canada.

    We might even have a place for the War-Man in our Centre-Right party!

  29. H Holmes says:

    The funny thing about all of this is that Ontario liberals still blame the NDP for the massive vote splits and giving the conservatives a majority.

    The NDP ridings in Toronto weren’t gained by an increase in the votes by the NDP.

    They were gained by Blue Liberals moving to the Conservatives and splitting off the support by the liberals.

    Like Layton’s flirtation with separatists, there are many reasons why joining the NDP is bad.

    This whole notion of moving more left has left the party scarred.

    There is no way many people in Canada want to have socialist party lead Canada.
    I am one of them.

    So when the pendulum swings again there is a good chance the liberals can win.

    But we can’t if we don’t have a national outlook and policies that suit all of Canada.

    That means dumping things like Abortion debate and Gun Control.
    Refocusing on suburban issues, whichm eans family tax beaks and encouraging business.

    This also means becoming a strong federalist party as both the NDP and Conservatives aren’t.

    Moving us back to the center.

  30. Davide says:

    Plain and simple, the Conservatives out campaigned the Liberals in this election.

    It’s a little funny reading all the comments about how mean the Cons were and how they managed to define Ignatieff, as they learned from the masters, or does everyone really have that short of a memory of past elections. Just visiting is pretty tame compared to Soldiers with guns in our streets and evangelical Christian attacks and Barney dolls. Past Liberals managed to define Manning and Day quite effectively.

    The Liberals got soft and complacent after winning their three majorities back to back to back, and felt entitled to be able to return back to power by finding “the guy”. Unfortunately, “the guy” does not exist.

    Three elections have passed where the reasoning was to stand back and do nothing and wait for Harper to self-immolate while manufacturing the scandal of the week. Perhaps it’s time to try a different strategy.

    Developing a vision and presenting it will be a hard path to follow, but ultimately the most successful one.

    Biggest reason why the just visiting ads worked was because they were true. Allowing a guy with no hands on political experience and who had spent virtually none of his adult life even living in the country to become the leader was a colossal mistake.

    Pitting him against an opponent that has lived, breathed and eaten Canadian federal politics since he was 18 years old, how on earth was he ever supposed to succeed?

    The battle has ended, but the war has just begun. The past three campaigns have been hard but hopefully something has been learned during that time.

    No more quickly leadership convention fixes, please. Make a four year plan, stick to it.

    1. Spend two years developing policy and a vision.
    2. Then select a new leader.
    3. Then give him/her time to articulate that vision to Canadians.

    The merger on the right was possible because it involved reassembling two fragmented parties that were originally together, returning family to the fold, so to speak.

    Merging on the left is a whole different kettle of fish and while it might be possible I wouldn’t bet on it…

  31. Mandos says:

    Again, it’s astonishing how quickly some Liberals have made assumptions about the trajectory of the Quebec-infused NDP. Before we even talk about merger vs. not-merger, you guys really need to un-assume some assumptions.

    There’s a huge streak of preference in Quebec for “visionary” or “inspirational” politics. That is a large component of the appeal of sovereignty—the new, positive, visionary ideas of the future: “Yes, and it all becomes possible.” From this perspective, the Conservative angry-man politics only sells well in a few isolated areas, and, as it turns out, the Trudeau-affixed Liberal vision (as much, by the way, as I am sympathetic myself to Trudeau’s constitution) looks old, tired, and very negativistic.

    What happened in this election is that the sovereigntist party, the BQ, lost the “visionary” title. They did not run a campaign of a new and positive politics. The unoriginality of their vision eventually overcame their “native son” advantages.

    Jack Layton has actually spent multiple elections building the NDP’s image in Quebec. Back in the day, people used to question the wisdom of this effort. So:

    1. To people who think that the NDP is going to fall apart because of its Quebec caucus, please remember: sovereigntists or no, the Quebec caucus has a LOT in common politically with the RoC caucus, especially in the visionary department.

    2. To whom do the Liberals appeal now in Quebec? Is there some stock of centre-left Trudeauists left untapped? How would a merger with the NDP not jeopardize the NDPs ability to be seen as the visionary party?

    Merger or not-merger are irrelevant when it’s not clear that the Liberal party has identified its real strengths in Quebec or elsewhere, and it’s even more dangerous to assume that people will behave predictably.

  32. Mandos says:

    The other thing is, of course, the policy platform of this merged party. I suspect that there would be required compromises that, e.g., even Warren would not be willing to accept. Like it or not, one of the pillars of the left-wing foreign policy perspective is a strongly pro-Palestinian position, and that goes even more so for Quebec progressives. Considering how apparently important a pro-Israel position is to WK, how much would he be willing to compromise on this issue? Do not underestimate its importance in the eyes of, esp., the NDP’s new francophone base, let alone the anglo base. Anti-colonialism is the basis of left-wing foreign policy. Like it or not.

  33. MCBellecourt says:

    I still think talking about a merger is premature. If the Liberals can pull up their bootstraps and reach common ground, and find a good leader, and stand behind him, it will be ready for when NDP support begins to erode. And erode it will. Jack has NO POWER in the house, and some of his candidates are too inexperienced to defend themselves against the CON propaganda machine. Quebec voters are fickle, as was proven in the election, and if Jack can’t get results, they won’t stick around.

    Wait and see, and in the meantime, get to work on the discipline issues tout de suite. Quietly. Ultimately, whether a merger is chosen or not, you will need a strong united party to win back the Liberal base. Without that, you ain’t got squat.

    First things first. Fix the party. Build something that is saleable, then get busy fundraising. Let’s not waste time on hypotheticals just yet.

    • Jack has NO POWER in the house

      Neither does Michael Ignatieff, er, I mean, ^__insert__interim__leader__here^.

      But as the Official Opposition Jack does have a much larger budget from which to fund research and improve the NDP’s lot in life, and they were already pretty effective at using their resources. They’ll get press time every single day while the house is sitting. Not nearly as much as the government will, but more than the Liberals shall be afforded.

      Meanwhile that third party, the NDP, er, darn, so used to thinking it was the Bloc or NDP — I mean the Liberals — are now shunted off to another building for caucus meetings and won’t be getting nearly the press face time.

      Mind you if Mulcair keeps shooting his mouth off and looking all crazy like, they may wish they weren’t in the larger spotlight after all.

    • MCBellecourt says:

      Hmmm. Here I am some hours later, having watched two clips from Power & Politics on the Ceeb. One with Ralph Goodale, another with Jim Karygiannis.

      The views they expressed (over Solomon’s incessant Ronnie Radio blather) were pretty much the same as I wrote here.

      Kudos to both gentlemen for not letting that idiot Solomon steamroller them into commitments that neither they or the Party are ready to make.

      There is hope after all.

  34. Mandos says:

    Another point on Quebec: does it not occur to anyone that constitutional flexibility is now the only for way for *any* federalist party to win a majority of seats in Quebec?

  35. JTanner says:

    Do these folks really make up 20% of the NDP?

    http://www.ndpsocialists.ca/

    Yikes.

  36. Patrick Hamilton says:

    And the first NDP foot in mouth award goes to, wait for it, Thomas Mulcair……

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/05/04/pol-mulcair-osama.html

  37. Take Dead Aim says:

    i question whether enough MPs/party members in the post May 2/11 NDP would be remotely interested in even theoretically having a discussion about a merger.

    what so many Liberals see as Quebec’s temporary flirtation with the Dippers the NDP see as PURE OPPORTUNITY.

    Opportunity to shed the image of the 3rd place party, opportunity to find regions/ridings in Quebec where they feel like they can have permenant roots and repeated success, opportunity to just wait out the process where the Liberal party tries to figure out what it is going forward and ends up whithering in incubation.

    The right united after 3 full Chretien majorities, after 3 elections of bashing each other senseless in an attempt to form government all by themselves. When failure after failure became simply too unbearable, they both held their noses and settled under one tent.

    Some traditional Liberals have already had more failure than they’re accustomed to, and are ready to make a deal TODAY to end the suffering.

    But the NDP just got their first taste of true electoral success. Sure, they might lose most or all of that success in the next election. But they’ll need to be sure that it’ll never get that good again before they’ll consider any merger alternative. and that’ll take more than one more election. Probably more than two.

    are the liberals going to be the broken hearted girl waiting by the phone for the NDP to call until then?

  38. Laurier says:

    There is NO LEFT in Canada to merge! The Liberals are firmly a centre party that brokers both the left and right divide. Why would they move left and leave the entire centre open for Harper to exploit and reposition himself. The best option is to conciliate a merger where the NDP meets the Liberals at the centre- then they re-brand themselves and agree on key platform planks and ideology that satisfies a central, pragmatic, progressive, yet fiscally balanced approach. Canadian voters are exactly where the blue liberals are. It was blue liberal voters that put Chretien over the top, it was blue liberals that put Harper over the top and it will be blue Liberals that eventually put the new Liberal/Democrats over the top. The new party would have to have a new leader that is acceptable to both parties. Somebody from Quebec or Atlantic Canada is ideal right now. Somebody who is more progressive than Ignatieff, and someone that can be flanked with star candidates from both the left and right side of the spectrum. Chretien who was firmly in the centre was no fool when he used Paul Martin to flank him on the right. He earned top marks from Bay street, and voters knew the Liberals with Paul Martin could be trusted with finances. He also courted the likes of Axworthy and Ramanov because he knew the Progressive more NDP like wing of the party would gravitate to them. That also justified why many NDP supporters also voted for him. Cmon folks haven’t you learned anything from “da boss”. I mean here we have Steven Harper emulating Chretien’s tactics to make them more appealing and more mainstream, and then here we Liberals are moving left. DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can assure you that if the liberals move left the conservatives will be laughing all the way to the PMO for years and years and years. They are counting their wishes to be able to broadstroke the potentially new party as LEFT, and out of touch with mainstream Canada. Every Blue Liberal will jump ship and the party will not have a chance. The sad thing is the Liberal tradition will die even more, until it cannot be revived.

    We need a new Wilfrid Laurier. Anybody have somebody in mind?

  39. Marco A says:

    If the LPC can innovate itself enough to appeal to enough French Quebec ridings in the next election then maybe they can merge with NDP on favourable terms. If NDP is able to consolidate its hold on the predominantly French speaking ridings then they may never want to merge.

    I remember back in 2003 that one of the key building blocks of Alliance/PC merger was the acceptance of PC party’s constitution as-is by Alliance party. PC party had to prove that they were needed to win seats in king-maker province of Ontario to gets favorable merger terms.

  40. Elizabeth Thompson says:

    At iPolitics.ca we crunched some numbers the day after the election looking at the rather hypothetical question of what would happen if you added up all the people who voted Liberal and all the people who voted NDP then compared it in each riding to the vote for the Conservative riding. While I know the actual dynamics are more complicated than that and there would be bleed off etc, the result was pretty stunning- especially in the GTA. http://ipolitics.ca/2011/05/03/split-votes-key-to-conservative-majority-analysis/
    There’s a table with a riding by riding breakdown as well.
    Essentially, if the Liberals and NDP had merged hadn’t split the vote on Monday, Canada would probably have woken up Tuesday morning to a majority government run by a left of centre party.

    • Take Dead Aim says:

      i used to do a similar analysis on the back of an envelope during the Chretien majorities. The results weren’t as dramatic, but it showed that a combined right would be on the cusp of a majority, but not quite there.

      To recreate that analysis in the real world took 10 years and 4 elections (conceivabley starting in 1997, the soonest the two parties could unite after the 1st Chretien majority, ending in 2008).

      The Dippers i know aren’t crushed by this election result. They see nothing but opportunity ahead, right or wrong.

      They’re going to need to be morally exhausted with the current strucutre of Canadian politics before they think of joining forces with a party that had Paul Martin as one of their most successufl finance ministers.

  41. Stefan says:

    The NDP and Liberals don’t have to merge. What has to happen is for us to get proportional representation. Then the makeup of the House of Commons will always reflect the true will of the voters.

  42. Cliff says:

    Ed Broadbent has now gone on the record as saying that merger is dead: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/05/07/pol-the-house-broadbent-merger.html

    “The conversation might have … taken place if in this election the NDP and the Liberals between them constituted a majority, i.e. Mr. Harper didn’t get a majority,” Broadbent told host Kathleen Petty in an interview that aired Saturday morning.

    “Then there would have been a whole new scenario discussed and quite a different government might have taken shape. But we are in a historically quite different position where the NDP is quite clearly dominant in numbers and I say and have said this already to some in the Liberal Party who are social democrats, that now’s the time to join the NDP.”

    If Ed’s not on board with merger, it’s dead in the water. Time for Liberals to start focusing their efforts elsewhere.

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