01.05.2015 06:30 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: coalition, accusation, repetition

Get ready.

You can always tell when a federal election is coming in Canada. The political parties commence a frenzy of fundraising. The commentariat start speculating incessantly about when, exactly, the election will take place. The media start writing profiles of backroom “strategists” who real folks don’t care about.

Oh, and conservatives start darkly whispering about coalitions.

It’s already happened at least a couple times on Sun News Network, the canary in the Conservative Party’s coal mine. As one of the network’s house Bolsheviks, I can tell you that Sun News is worth watching for that reason alone: it’s the place where the Stephen Harper Party first road-tests assorted talking points. It’s where they launch various trial balloons, to see what will float, and what will come crashing down to terra firma.

Thus, that hoary old chestnut, the coalition allegation. Harper and his party have successfully deployed it in 2011 and 2008, and they appear to be readying themselves to do so again. Worked before, it’ll work again, right?

Not necessarily. As the Conservative war room has discovered to their vexation, you can’t run the same plays in every game without the other guys eventually noticing. The attack ads that worked so well against Messrs. Dion and Ignatieff, for instance: the same sorts of ads haven’t worked as well against the fresh-faced Justin Trudeau, have they?

But the Tories are undeterred. If the “he’s in way over his head” ads aren’t peeling off thousands of soft Liberal votes, then the coalition canard almost certainly will. That is, Grits and Dippers (and, where available, separatists) are secretly plotting to come together to form a Satanic alliance post-election, thereby defying the people’s will, trampling on democracy, blah blah blah.

Here’s the proverbial fly in the coalition ointment, however: Liberals and New Democrats presently hate each other’s guts. We use that word advisedly: HATE. It fits.

They’ve always sort of hated each other, true. New Democrats see Liberals as soulless, venal hypocrites, interested in power and little else. Liberals see New Democrats as humourless, pious scolds who always prefer talking to doing.

But, lately, the level of enmity between Grits and Dippers has reached feverish proportions.

Dippers say that Justin Trudeau is the political Zoolander: an empty-headed pretty boy who talks a lot about the middle class, but who wouldn’t know the middle class if it bit him on one of his yoga-toned legs. Grits see Thomas Mulcair as Angry Tom, a crypto-separatist whose mere existence is imperiling their inevitable triumphant return later in 2015.

None of this Grit-Dipper odium deters Stephen Harper, of course. He spooked Liberals and New Democrats away from coalition-talk in the past and, by God, he intends to do so again. It worked.

No matter that his party, the Conservatives, was a coalition of the Reform/Alliance parties and the Progressive Conservative Party. No matter that he himself attempted an unconsummated, unholy coalition with the socialists and the separatists in 2004 – even writing a letter to the Governor-General about his willingness to enter into coalition matrimony. None of that matters.

What matters is winning, and Stephen Harper is rather good at winning. His opponents may deny, deny, deny that a coalition is imminent, let alone possible. They may point to the seamy and unseemly Parliament Hill sexual harassment cases – with accusation and counter-accusation flying back and forth – as clear evidence that the two parties heartily detest each other.

But, while all true, that’s all irrelevant. In the lead-up to elections, the truth is usually irrelevant.

Stephen Harper intends to make the coalition accusation again, by God, facts notwithstanding. It works.

It’s soon to be election time, after all, and coalition talk will soon be all the rage.

Get ready.


  1. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    If Harper goes ahead with this warmed over second hand “strategy”, he will only confirm what I’ve always suspected, namely, that he is a mediocre strategist who gets lucky.

    It definitely will not work this time. The public knows that Cameron and Clegg are part of a coalition government. If memory serves, they will go to the polls in the UK in May. Harper should keep a sharp eye on that. It will more than likely be a teaching moment for his not very original war room.

  2. davie says:

    Perhaps anew one the Conservatives are going to cash in on is their investment for at least a couple of years as painting their leadership as tall-and -tough internationally.
    They have made a point of talking belligerently, and sending our military to some far away areas, and, each time, they have their leadership depicted as really, really important on the world stage.

    They have to hope that things continue in a controlled manner in Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Ukraine, the climate conference in Paris. If those areas are under control, the Conservatives can continue, fairly successfully, to resent a favourable image.

    I know, people say elections are on local issues, domestic issues, but, as I mentioned, I think the Conservatives have invested in their foreign affairs image with the intention of using it in this election campaign.

  3. Brachina says:

    That summed it up pretty good Warren, but I’ll add that many New Democracts still feel betrayed over Iggy dumping the coalition. Iggy will go down as the only man who turned down the offer to be Prime Minister.

    Also the last liberal regime sliced around 40% out of the social safety net and yet people still treat them as leftwing, they voted with Harper in exchange for zero consessions, and yet they still get away with it. Heck even most Liberals and Tories will admit that the NDP leader is the best at his job we’ve had in generations, and yet in polls Justin seems to reap the benifits.

    You can brush it off as whining, but anyone in our position would be resentful.


    • James Smith says:

      Yup best opposition leader since Bob Sandfield.
      Good thing St Jack voted to kill the Kelona Accord, National Day Care, etc, etc, etc.
      As Mr K says rather scold than do.

    • Peter says:

      but I’ll add that many New Democracts still feel betrayed over Iggy dumping the coalition

      Presumably, then, they also still feel betrayed by the Canadian public, who were opposed to the coalition in numbers far in excess of Harper’s support in the election.

      • doconnor says:

        More betrayed by the media who treated the Conserative treasonious* lies as legitimate arguements.

        *Lying isn’t treason as defined by the criminal code of Canada.

        • Peter says:

          Right, the media. And Big Oil. And Big Other Stuff. And provinces. And shock jocks. And the University of Calgary. Indeed, the public is only exercising free choice at the polls when it votes left.

          The more I see what Liberal and NDP supporters have to say here and on other blogs about the evil Stevie, the more I think they not only don’t recognize an important demographic, they assume it’s very existence is an impossibility: voters who aren’t particularly enamoured of Harper, but who will consider voting for him faute de mieux

          • doconnor says:

            The media was wrong and the country is worse off because of it. The media is not immune from criticism.

            The left has other problems, like they tend to be independent thinkers which hurts messaging and the unity needed by our first-past-the-post system, while the right tends to be authoritarian followers which makes unity easier. Just look at what happened in Alberta.

          • Peter says:

            The left has other problems, like they tend to be independent thinkers

            Amazing. Even when you attempt self-criticism, you find a way to pat yourselves on the back. Too honest as well, I assume.

          • doconnor says:

            Don’t get me started on how modest we are…

  4. MississaugaPeter says:

    First “pseudo-matinee idol”, now “political Zoolander”! Too hilarious.

    1-0 Move Fantino
    2-0 Meet Wynne
    3-0 At Canada’s Game

    Where was JT on the first day of the election?

  5. Brachina says:

    The purpose of the coalition fear monger is more for fundraising then anything. Any swing Liberal Tory voters moved are gravy.

    • Kev says:

      Also the purpose of the Putin incident, the Communism monument, the [INSERT STUPID PARTISAN TITLE] Act, everything.

      Everything Harper and Co. do is about CPC fundraising.


      Every. Thing.

  6. Lance says:

    No matter that his party, the Conservatives, was a coalition of the Reform/Alliance parties and the Progressive Conservative Party.

    I very respectfully disagree WK; this was a reunification of one party, NOT a coalition of two original, separate ones. There is NO way that a comparison can be made between what was once one party getting back together, and two wholly separate parties, each with a unique history, working per diem for a finite amount of time. Even a complete and permanent merger between the NDP and the LPC would compare.

  7. JohnB says:

    PM Stephen Harper was in the audience at the Juniors final tonight. Not being PM, just there being a huge fan and cheering on team Canada.

    He made no appearance after they won.

    Sometimes he is just really able to connect with Canadians.

    I am a life-long liberal, but I respect the job that Harper has done.

    Justin is not ready.

    Mulcair is a clown.

    • Peter says:

      Sometimes he is just really able to connect with Canadians

      Warren deserves much credit for recognizing this and complimenting him for it, but it seems to drive some people crazier than all his putative lyin’ ‘n cheatin’. But given the passion so many Canadians feel for hockey and other sports, I do wonder why JT and Mulcair seem to avoid this kind of thing in favour of stuff like dressing up in Sikh garb, etc.. Don’t their handlers follow hockey? All they would have to do is show up. Surely there is a non-competitive, gender-integrated kids’ soccer league that doesn’t keep score that would welcome Tom in the stands? 🙂

      • davie says:

        Your jocular final sentence fits with JT’s whip-it-out comment. From the get go, the Conservative party has done all it can to emphasize the manly manliness of their patriarch. People criticize JT’s comment as that of a young adolescent. Could be, but he was showing that the young adolescent appealing image of a strong, firm, standing up straight leader of tough timbre at the helm is the main propaganda thrust of the Conservative Party.
        This is why the constant slurs suggesting the effeminacy or childishness of other leaders continue. The conservatives/Conservatives are basically influenced by the contrast.

        ‘Father knows best’ works on the voter base of the Conservative Party.

  8. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Not sure it matters how much they dislike each other. They’re all left wingers, to one degree or another, many of whom believe in their divine right to rule.

    Many of whom believe ideology trumps all else.

  9. TrueNorthist says:

    The CPC had better hope things stay focused on coalitions, because soon the economy is not going to be very helpful to them. The CPC has tied our fiscal well-being to the price of oil and that will shortly be hovering around $30 a barrel; $50 or more below the break-even point for tar-sands producers. I think mass lay-offs and the collapse of real estate in Alberta will keep the CPC on the defensive. Another reason why they will drop the writ early. They know the jig is up and it will only get worse with time.

  10. patrick says:

    This is when the world really depresses me.
    When people have been convinced to think that a “coalition” is the equivalent of a beer hall putsch.
    Some how, a coalition of two parties, with the majority of seats and votes, representing the broadest spectrum of society, deciding to work together in parliament, has become become viewed as a horrific over throw of democracy and a threat to our society.
    It just boggles.

    • davie says:

      Yeah, I though tht the way our Westminster Parliament was supposed to work was that whoever can command a majority in the House of Commons should be asked by the crown to form a government.

      But then, I also had the idea that all Members of Parliament not in cabinet were supposed to do their darndest, on our behalf, to hold the government to account.

      • Scotian says:


        How dare you, sir! How! Dare! You! How Dare You bring basic civics and facts to this argument! You are an animal Sir, no respectable political observer would ever dare resort to that basest of base ATTACKS and scurrilous slurs, using actual basic facts about how our system of government actually is designed to operate for an argument! Indeed, How Dare You!!!

        Just for those that need it (which not so long ago I wouldn’t worry about, but these days alas…*sigh*) the preceding was snark aimed at underscoring just how correct davie is on this point regarding how governments are formed in our system of government. It is who can command a majority of MP votes in the House of Commons on Confidence votes, not the party with the largest plurality, that has the right to be the government, and this really is civics 101 from Elementary school level education. That ANY PM gets away with calling such a coalition a coup and is not called on it by our national political media says a lot of very bad things about the integrity and honesty of that media because it is such a basic factual matter. I don’t want nor expect media to be overtly partisan towards any party or government, I *DO* expect them to be partisan towards factual accuracy being practiced by all concerned, ESPECIALLY those that are the government since they are the ones holding the power in their hands, whomever that might be!!!

        In any event, my whole basis for always having been so anti-Harper was not rooted in my partisanship for another party/leader, but my partisanship for the respecting of the integrity of our system of government as it actually is designed to operate under our laws. If you dislike it and/or feel it must be changed, fine, but do so aboveboard and openly following the processes that exist for allowing such fundamental changes, which is the exact opposite of how Harper has gone about it.

        Harper has corrupted our political system far more than any mere money scandal ever could, indeed, I would advance with no hesitation nor exaggeration nor mere empty rhetoric the title of most corrupt PM in our history for PM Harper, because of how he has abused the powers of his Office and that of Government itself, and how he has not only done so via a scorched earth approach but then feels the need to salt that scorched earth just to make as sure as he can that repair is as difficult to impossible as he can after he is gone. What so few of my critics have ever appeared to grasp (or are willing to admit they grasp) is that I am not a partisan of a party, a leader, or an ideology, I am a process geek, my partisanship is towards the integrity of our processes of government regardless of who is in charge of them before all else. Which I have not hidden in the slightest over the preceding decade+ of opposing Harper in my long winded way.

        How ANYONE that claims to care at all about democratic government whatever their flavour of it is can simply watch this happen, or worse cheer that on because it looks like it is being done against those they oppose are in my personal view bad Canadians, and arguably treasonous in their conduct. Yes, I know, harsh language, and please note I am not saying that it is legally so, I am saying morally/ethically it is how I see the matter, because before we can have differences about ideologies, policies, parties and leaders we need to be able to trust the basic integrity of the system of government we use in common (both the electing aspect and the governance aspect), and that is what Harper has been the most destructive influence in our history, and he did so deliberately, with intent, and was not shy about advance warning in his past prior to the 2004 election when he finally realized he had to shut up about it and lie massively about it to get elected. THAT was the real hidden agenda, not socon ideology!

        The way he uses the coalition argument is undeniable proof of this behaviour, as was while in minority he advanced as a defence for holding back Afghan Detainee documents from Parliament despite the majority of Parliament voting for their release the claim that his minority government was superior in power to the whole of Parliament, which is a clear inversion of how our system of government operates as all government power comes from Parliament itself and having the control of it via working/actual majority. While Speaker Milliken proved the lie it was in his ruling it unfortunately got lost in the election that followed, and alas Speaker Scheer IMHO has not been as judicious in his rulings for the benefit of the House itself and in regards to following precedent when it got in the way of the Harper machine.

        There is nothing truly “conservative” in any meaningful Canadian political sense about the Harper government beyond the name, it has in fact been the least conservative government by any reasonable definition/standard in our history when you look at what it actually has been doing, as opposed to what it claims it does. As angry as I can get with Dippers and Layton for allowing this man to rise to the PMO, I am also with many so called self described Canadian Conservatives for letting themselves get flim-flammed this way, and mostly out of a petty sense of anger, vindictiveness, and glee at seeing their traditional political rival/opponent so reduced over the past decade that they ignore what is right in front of them.

        This is one old fashioned centrist swing voter who will be a long time forgiving those on both ends of our political spectrum for what they have done here and allowed to be done to our nation, domestically and internationally. This idiocy about coalitions being evil and unto a coup is only one of a vast host of betrayals of our core political values as a nation by the Harper government and those that support it. It is time and past time to return to real Canadian politics, including conservative practices which are truly Canadian conservative in thought and deed! The first stage if which is getting rid of Harper preferably by throwing him out of office in as clear and undeniable manner as possible in the next election!

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      It is not so much the coalition that is objected to. It is who is coalitioning (sp)

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