03.14.2012 02:46 PM

Justin Trudeau on merger/coalition/co-operation

I’m at Sun News, and the gang just played this clip for me. Trudeau was speaking to a group of students in Victoria, got asked The Question, and here’s what he said:

“…if by 2015, with the election approaching, and neither party has got of our act together enough to shine and to be the obvious alternative, then [pause], there will be a lot of pressure for us to start looking at that. I think there is not anyone in Parliament, outside the Conservative Party of Canada, that is willing to risk seeing Stephen Harper become Prime Minister one more time.”

Did he misspeak? Will he walk this one back? Has he changed his view, having seen how popular Nathan Cullen’s become saying the same thing?

Beats me. But he said it. And I’m surprised.


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    Michael Watkins says:

    First comment here in eons…

    I was impressed by Cullen being candid about cooperation. It has doomed his chances of course but still, impressed.

    Not impressed that Mulcair avoids debates but then shows up for a joke debate on 22 minutes.

    Mostly I’m ignoring politics until the centre / centre left decides to smarten up and join forces. Clearly I approve of Cullen’s and Trudeau’s, and Kinsella’s of course, messages on this topic.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Don`t forget, Michael, it was just a couple of weeks ago that Justin said he would join the separists if he thought that the Conservatives would win again.

      I guess it depends on how he feels when he gets out of bed in the morning.

      Too funny.

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        Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        Oh damn. Seperatists.

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        Michael says:

        If you look at a lot of the NDP policy positions they are aligned with the the BQ. So it’s not much of a leap to go from being a seperatist to being a Dipper. 😉

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    Ottawacon says:

    Cullen is worth more than at least 90% of the MPs on the Hill…and I say that as someone who disagrees with him on almost everything. I don’t think he is running to win this time around, I think he is positioning himself for the next ‘pulse’. He will end this campaign as the most prominent ‘cooperation’ figure of the NDP, and will be pre-eminent when, inevitably, the next NDP leader is tarred with the collapse of their ephemeral support in Quebec and/or the alienation of non-Quebec traditional activists.

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    kre8tv says:

    Sadly, there remains an excess of hubris among decision makers in the two Opposition parties. Each thinks that it’s only a matter of time before enough voters sour on the Cons and turn to them. Of course it’s absurd. But a lot of people get rewarded in Ottawa every day for thinking this way. And it’s only going to worse once it becomes apparent that both parties are being led by weak leaders who can’t connect with voters. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s going to take yet-another drubbing in an election to fix this once and for all.

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    Attack! says:

    It’s consistent w. what he said the last time (?) people seized on his comments on this topic in a scrum (and then on Twitter) on Aug. 29, 2011, when he said,

    “Sure, let’s put everything on the table; but I’m really not yet convinced merger’s a solution”

    Here he’s saying that if in 3 more years the Libs are _still_ in the cellar, then by that point he probably WILL be convinced that [something or other involving the NDP] is the solution to unseating the Harper gov’t.

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    frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    Having been burned badly once by merger, Im of course a little gun shy…..but if merger, or Mr. Cullens idea of running joint candidates prevents “Dear Leader” and his evangelical/oil patch cabal from taking this country further down the one way road to the 51 state, Im all for it….The thought of another decade of the Harper cabal damaging this country irrecoverably is simply too painful.
    I think I can safely say the majority of my local Liberal EDA would be in favour of it too…..
    Canada, after all, is a nation too good to lose……
    Good on M. Trudeau for speaking out….

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    Michael Reintjes says:

    yes another decade of Harper….and I admit ,I kinda like him…

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    brucethepainter says:

    Warren, I think you are being overly pessimistic. How many more election cycles must Libs and NDPer’s endure before they reach that”moment of clarity”? I think that Cullen and Trudeau and even Bob Rae are on the leading edge of a wave. You have to admit that nothing scares Harper more than the prospect of a united Left. Not only CAN it happen, it MUST happen.
    I will be watching for true leaders to emerge who have the heart to reach out to the NDP and truly make Harper squirm.

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      Tybalt says:

      “nothing scares Harper more than the prospect of a united Left”

      I doubt it. He tacks to the centre, and attacks from there. A united Left offers him the advantage of tarring the entire opposition with an NDP/socialist brush. And Harper, for all the bumbling and incompetence, hasn’t governed as a doctrinaire right-winger.

      I doubt he wants a united Left, but what Harper probably wants least of all is a revived Liberal party with a strong and responsibly centrist message.

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    bluegreenblogger says:

    Hmmm, I do not know how keen I am on a merger of the Liberals and the NDP. What will happen to the hard left rump of the NDP? The reflexive’ hire more civil servants’ focus of the NDP will come with them, and frankly, that is a very poor metric for evaluating public policy prescriptions. Yes, the public (and dwindling private) sector unions wiould make handy dandy electoral allies, but there is more to life than winning at ANY cost.
    Actually, I liked a political landscape that featured a third party to push a different basket of policies in front of the electorate. Problem is that a pack of liars and thieves took advantage of that landscape. Consider this though, the Green Party will evaporate before the next election. About 6%-8% of the electorate will be ‘up for grabs’. A great many people take it for granted that Green voters will slide into the NDP camp, I can tell you that just is not the case. No more than 40%, and those are the least likely to vote anyway. This merger smacks to me of laziness, and an unwillingness to take a hard look at what actually went wrong with the Liberal Party. In a nutshell, policy paralysis, and inertnecine warfare killed off the current iteration of the Liberals. I mean, wtf? Pierre Trudeau went to bat for ma, and all anglo quebeckers. The Party that is not interested in what goes on in the bedroom. the Party that slew the mulroney defecit. You gonna hand it over without so much as a whimper??!!
    I now regret every bit of blood sweat and tears shed for the Green party, and wish that I could roll back the clock, but there it is. the Liberals relied on a brand, and not the quality of their offering, so here we are. Instead of looking for cheap shortcuts, what is wrong with actually defining WHAT it is to be a Liberal, putting the database, and tools in place for 365 day per year campaigning, forging the links with interest groups that have the data, membership, and $$ to help propel the Liberal party into a competetive position once again?

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    Philippe says:

    What is so refreshing about Justin is he doesn’t speak like a politician. He isn’t rehearsed and speaks from the heart. People are so tired of scripted speakers – I bet his brand (should he run for leadership) would catch on with regular Canadians.

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    Jim Hanna says:

    I don’t think merger is the answer. For those of you who think its Harper’s worst nightmare; then why has his political strategy (and that of his political forebears, Ernst and Preston Manning) been to eliminate the Liberal Party and create a “true” right wing/left wing party system? This isn’t his worst nightmare, its exactly what he has been trying to create since he got into politics.

    For a merger to work, the NDP would have to shed a lot of its core policies, and most importantly, social democracy. Its base shouldn’t be forced to accept that, and probably wouldn’t. The only way to avoid a splintering (and the formation of a new left wing party) is to keep the “merged party” well to the left…which will create a problem for Liberal voters.

    On the Liberal side, there may be a large portion of Liberal voters willing to vote for a merged entity; but there will be those, a significant number, who could find it too far left. The true centrists may wonder how committed the merged party is to fiscal responsibility. There are also significant differences on foreign policy…the left is solidly pro-Palestinian; given Harper’s courting of the Jewish vote, whose to say that the new party, in order to differentiate itself, chooses to take a stand on the other side of that equation? That will shed more voters from the merged party.

    The NDP and Liberals are fundamentally different parties and a merger would only make a party unrecognizable to the supporters of the former party. The existence of the NDP didn’t hinder the Liberals from appealing to the centre of the Canadian body politic for most of the last century and a merger won’t be a quick fix back to victory.

    I realize that, in the context of the NDP morphing itself into a copy of the Liberal party, as started under Layton and would continue under Mulcair, the divisions are harder to see…but they are there.

    If we look at what the Democrats did to bring Obama to power, and strategists like Mudcat Saunders, I think thats the direction we need to look. And for the Liberals to come back into government, we have to focus our energy against the NDP; playing around with merger is a recipe for extending a Conservative hemogony for a decade, not the solution.

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    Steve T says:

    While co-operation between the Libs and NDP may be beneficial to both parties, the first step is for each party to stop kidding itself that support for the new coalition will be mathematically equal to the popular vote of each party in the last election. It won’t, and it never will. There will be centre-right Libs who can’t stand the idea of getting in bed with the NDP, and will migrate to the CPC. There will be hard-left Dippers who can’t stand the idea of getting in bed with the Liberals, and will migrate to the Greens (or stay home on election day).

    The same thing happened with the Reform Party. Its first attempt at merger with the federal PCs resulted in the Canadian Alliance, which was pretty much just Reform Redux. Many federal PCs gravitated to the Liberals. Only when there was virtually nothing left of the federal PCs did the idea of a “co-operation” have any traction. And, even then, it took the false pretense that the former federal PCs (via Peter Mackay) would still exist.

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      Bil Huk says:

      Great point.

      there’s no doubt in my mind that many liberals are interested in a merger, and i think that number will grow when 2015 doesn’t provide significant political gains.

      the question will be, why should the NDP merge if they can remain the official opposition, or within sneezing distance of it? That’s new territory for them, and that series in the Globe a couple years back about the negotiations behind closed doors between the NDP and Liberals about what a coalition goverment would look like just didn’t seem like a negotiation between near ideological/emotional equals. It sounded like big brother telling little brother if you don’t like my hand-me-down tricycle while i ride the 10-speed, you can just keep walking.

      I think its underestimated how many loyal NDP supporters loathe the idea of merging with the party that for years has made no bones about telling Canadians that if your side with the NDP your voice doesn’t matter.

      The PCs were almost the equivalent of political buggy whips when they finally got their heads around stopping the vote splitting. it was truly Goliath overtaking David on a number of fronts. David could either die the death of 1,000 tiny cuts, or fall in line behind the growing giant (voter-wise, fundraising-wise, etc).

      there is no david and goliath between the Libs and NDP, i don’t think there’s nearly the political will necessary, and as Warren has said, you probably need another 10 years of federal election defeats before the everyone gets fed up enough.

      it took 3 chretien majorities for the other side of the fence, why would it happen any faster this time?

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    MCBellecourt says:

    Keep on keeping the Robocon issue allive, WK, and, also, the Internet privacy issue. Heck, look at Dean Del Meathead keeping things front and centre with trying to get that Adam fellow into committee. Lawyer Paul Champ has written a letter to the itty-bitty-brainee-committee on behalf of our friend Adam on why he will not be appearing before the committee.

    Turn adversity into triumph. The VikiLeaks thing was a mistake, but the Cons are making a reversal of fortune soooo easy, and the Liberals are taking full advantage of it. Just keep at it, WK, like I know that only *you* can.

    Those two issues are *the* important issues now. Let’s keep running with it.

    Oh, and here’s the link to our Blackberry-slinging blogger Kady O’Malley’s story regarding that letter.


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    Derek Pearce says:

    Having read only a few comments above, must say as a diehard Liberal (and anyone who’s read my posts over the years knows I’m a diehard large-L) this is bigger than the fact Trudeau said it. WK has said it. It’s time to quit pissing around and unite the left against the Conbots. This will of course make our national politics even more shitty and American and bipolar, but conservatives decided about 20+ years ago that’s the bloody only way, and they eventually, and for 6 years now, have won.

    Our politics for a while already became this American shitty bipolar thing (discounting Alberta, in the east this started with Harris in ’95) and it’s time to get our shit together, and play hard *for real* against the conbots and defeat them decisively and set the agenda. A united opposition party will have better funding and organization. These advantages the cons were smart enough to get far ahead with, while the rest of us saloned our platitudes. Organization and money are crucial to go head-on against the con machine, and as dedicated as separate opposition party members are, this pooling of resources is pretty much obligatory to the cons defeat.

    I was prideful of the large-L Liberal brand for the past many years, and now I don’t care about the name, I just want a united front against this government and to see them defeated. I’m not alone.

    *far-left NDP wingnuttery and stubborn Liberal institutionalism will be major, major problems. But not insurmountable. And don’t call it the goddamn Liberal Democrats or something like that. The name can wait, the merger is more important.

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    Brad Young says:

    I think Harper is quite capable of ruining his own chances of getting relected.

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    Brad Young says:

    I think Harper is quite capable of ruining his own chances of getting relected, but only if the public takes an interest.

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    Anne Peterson says:

    Enough votes sour on the conservatives? It has nothing to do with conservative support really and everything to do with our ridiculous first past the post system. The conservatives got 39% of the 60% of eligible voters that voted. That is about 24%. A strong, stable majority indeed!Where in the whole world of democracies could this happen but in Canada. 80 or so democracies in the world have proportional representation and 2 or 3 have first past the post – Britain is one and maybe the US is the other. I can’t quite figure out what they do down there. Any party that has any integrity will fight to change this. And we know who that won’t be, don’t we?

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      Bryan Goshko says:

      Were you beating the drum for proportional representation when Chretien got his majorities with less than 40% of the vote, Anne?

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        Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        When you have more than two parties running no one has EVER (or seldom) more than 40% of the vote. The only time in my lifetime (and that`s a long time) that anyone got anywhere close to 50% of the vote was in 1984?

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    Jim Hanna says:

    Last night Trudeau clarified his opposition to a merger on his facebook. Just saying.

    Also, and this has to give pause; the NDP are awful, awful happy about their support for the Sherbrooke Declaration. I have yet to meet a Liberal that could even stomach it. How exactly are we supposed to unite? Its not something that can be waffled; beyond economics its a fundamental difference between the parties.

    Im just putting this out there, but a united, progressive, pro-Sherbroooke Declaration, anti Israeli party … isn’t going to get my vote. And I’ve always voted Liberal.

    And that is exactly what Harper is counting on.

    The NDP existed for 90 years in one form or the other. The Liberals have been able to win and win big despite them.

    As for the Reform example, the Reform party came out of what was the Tory base. They took former Tory ridings. Their merger was a reunification.

    The NDP and Liberals were never in one camp. They weren’t separated at birth. A merger would be ugly; it’d be a Frankenparty.

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    Dan says:

    Another problem with the merger is getting the new unified alternative on message. It took 10 years for the Reform and PC to unify, and it took another 10 years before Harper could tame the Reform wing enough to earn 38% of the voters’ trust.

    I think it’s easier to *not* unify. Most polls since the election have the Liberals peeling back Conservative votes in Ontario. Post election cooperation would be more realistic than pre election cooperation.

    I’m voting at the NDP convention real-time. I hate Cullen’s proposal and think it will backfire. But he’s not a one-issue candidate. I’ve considered taking a chance and reaching my hand out to the party of Pierre Trudeau, with the mild fear that I’ll get smacked in the face by the party of Frank Stronach.

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    dz alexander says:

    // Dan says:
    I’m voting at the NDP convention real-time. I hate Cullen’s proposal and think it will backfire. But he’s not a one-issue candidate. I’ve considered taking a chance and reaching my hand out to the party of Pierre Trudeau, with the mild fear that I’ll get smacked in the face by the party of Frank Stronach. //

    I don’t think a merger is necessary & Dan’s kind of thinking is the reason. If the NDP & the Liberal seats form a majority, no efforts of Harper will be able to prevent some sort of coalition.
    The question is the number of seats that would be lost because they have not pooled their votes beforehand.
    I come from a constituency in the NDP won because Liberals voted for them in order to keep the conservatives out.
    By the time people are good & sick of the Conservatives, there should be a lot of that. As least I hope so.

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