Musings —01.05.2015 06:30 PM—
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.