09.04.2011 06:43 AM

In today’s Sun: Good morning, Prime Minister!

If you’re Stephen Harper, sitting up at Harrington Lake and reading the papers, you’re having a good chuckle this morning.

On one page, there’s Liberal Leader Bob Rae, saying a merger of his party and the NDP is a work of “fiction” and something no Liberal wants to talk about. That would be the same Bob Rae who, the day after his party was reduced to a rump in the House of Commons, said it wasn’t such a bad idea at all.

In another paper, there’s former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who — on the grim morning after the Liberal Party’s May 2 rout — poured cold water on the merger idea. And, last week, there’s the selfsame Michael Ignatieff musing on his Facebook page about how the Grits and Dippers now needed to consider coming together.

Senior Lib MP Ralph Goodale? Hates the idea. Senior Lib MP Denis Coderre? Loves it.

Getting confused? You’re not alone. The NDP are confused, too.

23 Comments

  1. Finn says:

    I am not in favor of a merger of the parties.

    But I fail to see why Harper would be chuckling because the opposition parties are pondering a merger or not. At least the opposition pondering doesn’t impact my pocketbook.

    That’ very much unlike Harper’s decision to touch income trusts after he said he wouldn’t.

    After his pondering and action on that file, many weren’t chuckling at all.

    But if he is laughing, I say laugh away Harper, you no longer have the excuse of a minority government to lay the blame on. So by all means, keep laughing.

  2. Cam Prymak says:

    Or to put it another way, the Liberals are to politics as the Sony Tablet P is to computing. Ever bought one? Ever heard any good things about it? Exactly…

    So true – the current Liberal and NDP leadership seems determined to steer a once great party into irrelevancy. They dismissed the merger notion out of hand before the election because they couldn’t/wouldn’t counter punch their way out of the Conservative frontal attack that a merger is a bad thing, like Mr. Harper would actually believe that for a moment! He owes his very position today to that concept.

    Congratulations to our 34 elected members of Parliament but frankly it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  3. DL says:

    I wish people would stop using the terms “cooperation”, “coalition” and “merger” in this context. They are all totally different things. The NDP has been 100% supportive of an accord with the Liberals in the event of a minority government or of forming a coalition as we saw in 2008/09. There is NO ONE in the NDP – NO ONE – who is against cooperating and making deals with third parties in the event of a minority parliament. I have no idea what Liberals think. All I know is that in the dying days of the last election campaign when it appeared likely that there would be a minority parliament and that the Liberals would be the third party – the conventional wisdom was that the Grits would have backed Harper rather than let the NDP take power.

    The idea of merging the two parties is something totally different and will probably never happen. What happens in BC where all the federal Liberals like Christy Clark joined with federal Tories to create a rightwing anti-NDP party called the BC Liberal Party?

    Warren, I think the Liberal party needs to do a lot of soul-searching about what a mistake it was to walk away from the coalition with the NDP in Jan. 2009 and also about the mistake of rejecting any cooperation with the NDP in the last election campaign – but the moment you start talking “merger” it just shuts down all discussion because it is not on the tables and never will be.

  4. Marc L says:

    What on earth makes you Liberals describe yourselves as “progressives”? What makes you suddenly believe you are part of the “left”? Since when is NDP-style class-struggle ideology pitting the evil rich and mean corporations against the honest workets and valiant labour unions part of the Liberal discourse? Certainly not under any Liberal government I can remember — and most certainly not under Chrétien. How about coming up with a credible plan to solving Canada`s problems instead of trying to cling on to the NDP’s coat tails (who have the big end of the stick, you may recall). If you have something to offer Canadians, they may just vote for you. But describing yourselves as “progressives” and identifying yourselves with the “left” is just farcical — especially for those of us who actually remember the Liderals in power.

  5. Dan says:

    The NDP would be stupid to merge with the Liberal party. The whole reason they won in Quebec is because they’re NOT the Liberal party.

  6. Finn says:

    It probably was a fluke.

    4 years out from an election is hardly the time to look to polls, just ask Charest who was written off 12 months ago.

  7. Nuna D. Above says:

    Marc L is right about how ridiculous it is for Liberals to portray themsleves as “progressive” or “left”. When it comes to protecting the privileges of the wealthy, the Liberals are to the right of Reagan, Thatcher and Bush. Inheritance taxes, taxing global corporate income, offshore bank accounts-the Liberals look after the rich. Frank McKenna reduced welfare benefits to as little as $50 a month and broke union contracts to roll back wages. Paul Martin plundered the pension plan of the Voyageur busline when he owned the company. Some people in the Liberal Party play at being progressive because of romantic delusions they have about themselves.
    The NDP needs to move in for the kill, promoting themselves as the only progressive party and the only party that can defeat the Conservatives. Not that I want to see them win, but they don’t need the Liberals.

  8. Attack! says:

    Um, what polling is that… a QMI-commissioned, leading q. one?

    Or one right after Layton handed reins to “Too-many memberships Turmel’?

    ‘Cuz a big new H-D release (2,000 completes, with the voting intention q. tacked on to the omnibus tel. survey, as usual) has them tied with the CPC nationally at 33%, and still well ahead in QC (41%, w. BQ at 23%).

    http://www.harrisdecima.ca/news/releases/201108/1220-appreciation-jack-layton-shines-through-vote-intention

    And their Allan Gregg — who knows a thing or two about tracking popular political opinions — made this remark after Jack Layton’s death

    “His true legacy has yet to [b]e felt. His letter – and example – is the first thing to inspire voters in memory”

    http://twitter.com/#!/allangregg/status/106196830089510912

    • The Doctor says:

      Yeah, a dead man is going to win the next federal election for the NDP. You heard it here first folks.

      • Attack! says:

        not the man, obviously, but his personal example, esp. in his early political and final two years,

        and his (or ‘their’: it matters not if he had editorial help on it, ‘most every major pols’ most important speeches do) letter,

        which may very well…

        inspire that huge mass of lazy-ass under-40s to finally go out and vote.

        (Esp. when the Cons & the cynics like you make fun of or denigrate those notions.)

        And if they had done so in elxn41, and voted in keeping with the polling which encompassed those with cellphones, then:

        we’d have an NDP-led coalition right now (unless the CPC drastically revised the budget they came back with, but they’d undoubtedly fall within another year or so).

        That’s why there’s been so much grousing and unease about the letter and the state funeral: because it may wake the sleeping giant of the apolitical generations.

        • The Doctor says:

          Once again, the long-awaited game-changer!

          I think this must be purported game-changer #22, or something like that. I’ve lost count.

  9. frmr disgruntled Con, now Happy Liberal says:

    I think before any talk of merger takes place, the Liberal party needs to get its house in order….which under Bob Raes leadership, appears to be taking place(if anyone has dropped by liberal.ca

    lately) with the appearance of the grass roots now at least being listened to. I would hate to think that the Liberal Party would have to go and discuss merger with the NDP cap in hand…..ensuring that the

    leader of the combined party would be coming from the NDP….as a former red tory, I know how well that worked out for Progressive Conservatives in the CA/PC merger.

    Personally, Im not for it(once bitten, twice shy) but in the end it may be the only solution to stop Harper’s teabagger branch plant north…..

  10. Cath says:

    I don’t think the Liberals need the NDP – however keep this kind of stuff up and it’s going to become pretty clear that the NDP might want to hang on to something as their ship begins it’s sink.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/09/04/tories-seek-investigation-of-alleged-ndp-elections-act-violation/

  11. Tim says:

    I’d just remind everyone that, as stated by a reader above, the NDP didn’t kill the one promising chance at unity which emerged after the 08 election. Liberals did. Unilaterally. Layton did indeed favour cooperation, though not a merger per se.

    It’s actually insane to contemplate what happened. At the very last moment, Liberals broke a signed deal to depose their duly elected, progressive leader (Dion) in order to undemocratically crown by executive Fiat a right-leaning leader who had no mandate from Liberals, let alone Canadians. The same leader, incidentally, who they could have simply elected in the same leadership race which the deposed leader won in 2006.

    Honestly, all partisanship (I’m a New Democrat) aside, it just doesn’t make any sense. For the life of me, I still don’t get in even a basic way why the LPC acted so irrationally during that period. All subsequent events, up to and including the 2011 debacle/miracle (depending on one’s affiliation) stem from that one imbecilic decision.

    This isn’t mere disunity… it’s insanity, the political equivalent of manic depression.

    I’d gladly work in a coalition or, depending on the circumstances, even a merger. But until the LPC decides its not better than everyone else on the centre-left of the political spectrum, it’s going to be tough. We proposed, signed and abided by a deal in 2008 and got burned hard. For no good reason and to enduringly disastrous effect. It will take time and goodwill for Liberals to regain credibility with other progressives.

    Now we’re about to embark on two, simultaneous leadership races. I hate to say it, but it’s possible, just possible we won’t learn the lesson – just like the right – until we get our asses kicked a few more times. In politics, as in life, sometime nothing focuses the mind so effectively as taking a real nasty beat-down.

    Until then, I lament for our country.

  12. Jason Stone says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. I’m a Liberal from Nova Scotia living and working in Toronto. I’ve worked on the Hill for a NS MP and know, first hand, how the Cons operate. Your column suggests that without a merger we are done. A divided centre (left/centre) will never win. Although I agree that, in the short term, we will not win we need to play this as a long game.

    Any merger with the NDP will kill the support we have with the right side of the Liberal party. I work on bay street and can convince people to come to events and support local and federal candidates but the idea of a merger with the NDP will make us look like union loving politicans that are just hungry for power.

    My suggestion is this, 2015 is still a long way away. Let’s get our grassroots to re-write our policy agenda, change the current executives of our party and start to raise dough the way the Cons have (25.00 at a time). The NDP’ers do NOT share the same economic view as us in the centre (btw, the most importnat issue on the minds of most Canadians). We will get there but let’s not be so quick to find a solution – the Canadian public wants us to re-think our tact before the next election so let’s do just that.
    Sent from Jason’s Blackberry

  13. Jason Stone says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. I’m a Liberal from Nova Scotia living and working in Toronto. I’ve worked on the Hill for a NS MP and know, first hand, how the Cons operate. Your column suggests that without a merger we are done. A divided centre (left/centre) will never win. Although I agree that, in the short term, we will not win we need to play this as a long game.

    Any merger with the NDP will kill the support we have with the right side of the Liberal party. I work on bay street and can convince people to come to events and support local and federal candidates but the idea of a merger with the NDP will make us look like union loving politicans that are just hungry for power.

    My suggestion is this, 2015 is still a long way away. Let’s get our grassroots to re-write our policy agenda, change the current executives of our party and start to raise dough the way the Cons have (25.00 at a time). The NDP’ers do NOT share the same economic view as us in the centre (btw, the most importnat issue on the minds of most Canadians). We will get there but let’s not be so quick to find a solution – the Canadian public wants us to re-think our tact before the next election so let’s do just that.

  14. Cam Prymak says:

    Gord – the modern Conservative Party is a collection of diverse elements, social and fiscal conservatives from the whole spectrum.

    To plant the idea that there are separatists in the NDP, or any other party, while excluding the Harper government’s current separatist member(s) along with Mr. Mulroney’s historical experimental escapades with Lucien Bouchard et al is quite insincere.

    And to say that a unification of the left is an unworkable idea is completely revealing on your part – you’ve clearly thought through the ramifications of a united Left vs the Conservative vote given the rising Tea Party/Ultra Libertarian attitudes within your own party .

  15. Cam Prymak says:

    Recent precedent for organized labour supporting LPC goes back to Buzz Hargrove in 2005.

    • The Doctor says:

      That’s a lot different than organized labour having an automatic 25% of earmarked delegates at a Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention. Surely you recognize that.

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