03.24.2015 10:22 PM

In this week’s Hill Times: ten reasons why the Grits and Dippers won’t dance

These are some of the things that happen every four years: leap year, a total solar eclipse, the Olympics, and the FIFA World Cup. 

Oh, and debate—ad infinitum, ad nauseam—about the Liberals and New Democrats coming together to defeat the Satanic Stephen Harper Conservatives. That, too, happens every four years—and, when there’s a minority Parliament, it happens with even greater frequency. 

Thus, this past week, when a mischievous ‎Tom Mulcair started musing out loud about the progressive/coalition/cooperation thing yet again. Columnists columnized about it. Reporters reported on it. Commenters commented on it.  

Here we go again.

Take it from someone who has actually written a book, Fight The Right (available at all fine bookstores near you), that expertly dealt with this issue: Canadian progressives coming together to oust the dastardly, rebarbative Cons is a non-starter. 

Herewith, 10 reasons why: 

1. Well, they super hate each other. Per the immortal words of Sally Fields, inverted, they really, really do. For myriad reasons—cultural, ideological, political—each party heartily detests the other. Each regards the other as a threat, not a partner. 

2. We’ll say it again: the cultures are radically different. The NDP loathe the Liberals, mainly, because they regard them as a party without ideology and therefore principles. Oddly, most Dippers prefer the Tories—“because they at least believe in something.” Grits, Dippers say, don’t. 

3. The Liberals think they can win on their own: Trudeau’s party, despite their reduced Parliamentary status, ‎are much more popular than they ever were with Michael Ignatieff or Stéphane Dion. They genuinely feel they have a shot at power, and they genuinely do. So who needs a coalition?

4. The NDP think they can win, too: But it isn’t what you think. New Democrats know, in recesses of their big, bleeding hearts, that they lack enough broad-based support to enthrone Mulcair in 24 Sussex Dr. So, privately, they would be content to stay where they are—as a strong official opposition. In so doing, they keep the hated Liberals out of 24 Sussex Dr., too. 

5. Coming together now looks bad: if the Grits and the Dippers somehow join forces, they will be both admitting, de facto, that they cannot win the 2015 election. That isn’t good for grassroots morale, and it’s something mean old Stephen Harper would have a lot of fun with.

6. Coming together after the election is even worse: As before, any attempt to form a coalition post-vote will be depicted by Harper as a bloodless coup. It worked in 2008-2009, and it will work again 2015.

7.  Mulcair doesn’t like Trudeau: In private, New Democrats are scathing in their assessment of the Liberal leader. They see him as the literal embodiment of everything they dislike: all charisma and no conviction. All trust fund, no street smarts. Mulcair therefore regards Trudeau as unfit to shovel the driveway at Stornoway. 

8. Trudeau doesn’t like Mulcair: to the Liberals, Mulcair is the main impediment to regaining power. And, after the Pacetti-Andrews schmozzle, Trudeau wouldn’t trust Mulcair for a New York minute. And he doesn’t. 

9. The policy divide is a veritable chasm: take, for instance, C-51. The New Democrats appear more interested in using the anti-terror bill as a club, a wedge, with which to beat the perfidious Liberals. Their desire to actually, you know, oppose C-51 seems almost secondary.

10. Their view of federalism could not be more dissimilar: Mulcair, to federalist Liberals, is a venal crypto-separatist. His Sherbrooke Declaration, his equivocation on Quebec nationalism, enrages Liberals—who see themselves, still, as the only party capable of Keeping Canada United. 

There you go. Mulcair can have his fun, and the columnists can fell forests to print opinion pieces about it all. 

But an NDP-Liberal coalition is never, ever going to happen. 

(Or not in this four-year cycle, at least.) 


  1. Ty says:

    My quibble with 6 is that it won’t matter. Coalition I failed only because the Grits realized (a)How messed up the Dion for five months thing was structurally and (b) got cold feet from the polls. As we’ve seen today, Trudeau isn’t Ignatieff and doesn’t change position every three days.

    FTR I’m thinking it’s going to be a supply accord like in the 1980s after Mulcair is ditched.

    • Shamrock says:

      11. If the public knew they joined forces, either by co-operation or other means, including minority or coalition government, it would send many more votes to the Tories.
      12. Trudeau would never accept any idea other than him being PM; for that to happen Harper and the Tories have to reduced to minority, and Trudeau has to at least finish 2nd,and Mulcair must agree on that basis that we have a Liberal minority government or coalition, but either with Trudeau as PM. Not going to happen.

      BTW, there is nothing illegal about the Opposition defeating the Harper government after the next election should the voters hold it to minority position. Convention has it that a minority Tory government would be given the first chance to govern; there is also an unwritten rule that if the governing party receives less seats than another, they would resign immediately rather than facing parliament, as happened with Paul Martin in 2006. Assuming Harper wins a plurality, but not a majority of HofC seats, all the Opposition would have to do is get the GG to agree they can command the confidence of the house, after it becomes apparent Harper cannot, likely because he was defeated on a confidence motion. Whether that ended up as a minority government with one party in power with support of others, or a coalition government with more than one party in the government and Cabinet, is irrelevant. A coalition would be unusual but not unprecedented. I personally don’t think that will happen; Harper will win another majority this Fall, probably fairly comfortably.

      That’s what Harper reminded voters of last time and will this time; it’s not illegal, it’s just undesireable; and, unless the “progressives” can run under one unified banner that doesn’t cause votes to bleed to the Tories and to a lesser extent, the Greens of Bloq, they would lose anyway, IMHO.

  2. Patti Miller says:

    Trudeau can shovel my driveway anytime!

  3. Mervyn Norton says:

    – NDP and Liberal politicians don’t have to like each other to work together. Even Bobby Kennedy Jr. is cited in Fight the Right as hoping: “Can’t they somehow be persuaded to work together?”
    – Party leaders dismiss the idea of post-election coalitions (formal or informal) when they think they can win without them, not so much when the alternative is tolerating another Harper minority.
    – A 2008-09 coalition was harder to sell since Harper had had less than two years to show his stuff; now he has had more than nine years and most voters want him out.

    – Yes, a post-election coalition (formal or informal) if no party wins a majority, with Harper out.

    • Bob Forward says:

      The 2008-2009 coalition proposal depended on the support of the Bloc as the NDP and Liberals did not have enough seats to outnumber the Conservatives. Current seat projections on threehundredeight.com show that would not be the case in 2015.

  4. Ensign says:

    “But an NDP-Liberal coalition is never, ever going to happen.”

    So, it’s the Lib-Dip Thunderdome Conundrum — “Two men enter, one man leaves!”

    The late great Jack Layton knew that his NDP would never govern as long as there was a Liberal party in Canada…. so he voted no confidence in Paul Martin and created a PM Harper as the first step to destroying the Liberal Beast. Alas, fate was cruel to Jack because if he lived he might have finished off the Liberal party as the leader of the OOP in the HoCs…. and then there was only One… versus the other One.

    We are now entering Act 2…. the Conservatives versus the split Opposition and Mulcair knows his NDP/NPD must destroy the Justin Liberals or else they will #fail again and again.

    • Lance says:

      So, it’s the Lib-Dip Thunderdome Conundrum — “Two men enter, one man leaves!”

      It is a little more than just that. The Liberals signed on, Ignatieff, the Liberal leader at the time, got cold feet. The NDP has no reason to trust that the Liberals will honor such an agreement beforehand. Afterall –

      “Bust a deal, face the wheel.”

    • Bob Forward says:

      Two parties is usually the result of elections decided by FPTP (First Past the Post). The NDP and Green parties would prefer PR (Proportional Representation). PR tends to result in: a proliferation of parties; no more majority governments – single party minority would be the strongest outcome; most often governments would be coalitions made up of more than two parties. The Liberals (Trudeau, actually) would prefer PB (Preferential Ballot) where voters rank the candidates in the order of preference. The winning candidate must have over 50% of the vote. If no one has over 50% the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped and those votes are reallocated based on voters’ second preference. PB is similar to FPTP in that it tends to result in only two strong parties.
      I expect the 2015 election will result in a minority. If it does, the NDP and Liberals will cooperate as they are more progressive than the Conservatives. I also expect the minority will agree to change the election act replacing FPTP with some combination of PB and PR (e.g. 80% PB 20% PR).

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        Change in the Election Act. Doubt it.

        The Party with more seats (Liberal or NDP) will not agree since they will then perpetually have to rely on the other (although they probably would be in power for decades since Canada has been for many decades and probably will be for many decades to come a 60/40 Lib&NDP/Con split) for power, when the present system offers them a chance for no reliance with even sub-40% support (like Harper in 2011).

      • BC Voice of Reason says:

        The proportional voting has had moderate success in homogeneous societies of Western Europe. 80-90% of the people have common backgrounds, belief’s and moral compasses. They agree on most everything. the parties have 80% of their platforms in common.

        Canada is at the other edge of the diversity scale…. ie we are the most culturally diverse Country in the world. We are a huge mosaic of diverse societies. With proportional representation and an extremely high standard of living and no existential worries we would not have 4-5 parties, we would end up with dozens.

        Political gridlock would result… we would spend all the time voting and figuring out what fragile alliances get to run the country for brief periods and no time actually running the country.

        In Israel Netanyahu’s party won 24% of the vote and 30 of 120 seats, the Leftist Obama supported Zionist Union party won 19% of the votes 24 out of the 120. There is no suggestion of jockeying or BS coalition after the vote where the leader of the party with the most seats is not the PM.

        Herzog the leader of the opposition Zionist Union party started trying to form a cooalition BUT “However, when the counting of the votes on 18 March 2015 revealed a significant lead for the Likud, Herzog acknowledged that “the only realistic option” was to remain in the opposition”

        Israel on the whole fully understands if they got into that kind of internal bickering as the NDP and leftist Liberals want to do in Canada it would be bad for the country. And bad in Israel is significantly worse than bad in Canada.

        • BC Voice of Reason says:

          Since there is no edit I am adding an correction/addendum:

          The proportional voting has had moderate success in homogeneous societies of Western Europe. 80-90% of the people have common backgrounds, belief’s and moral compasses. They agree on most everything. the parties have 80% of their platforms in common. Norway is a lot like Alberta. No matter how many parties you make up they will always be right of center….. Wildrose/PC … the only difference is personalities.

    • Scotian says:


      In other words you are saying that despite knowing what Harper was (and no party leader and senior party strategists shouldn’t have known this a decade ago, his record throughout his political life from the late 80s onwards, his beliefs as a Straussian, his differences with Manning on the importance of the public opinion, etc made it so clear a disabled man in Halifax could see it clearly at that time and cite the basis for that concern) Layton thought it was fine risking the future survival of Canada as a nation just to advance his narrow partisan electoral agenda of killing off the Libs. This despite the Libs, even though at a very low point being a party that had governed most of our history, and therefore would be a very difficult death to manage even with the collaboration of Harper (which Layton was also counting on, he knew Harper hated the Libs so it didn’t have to be active coordination, although I wouldn’t rule it out either, we’ll likely never know now). This showed exactly why for so many Canadian voters the NDP cannot be trusted with power, because this is quite possibly one of the most horrific decisions ever made in our political culture in living memory!

      Seriously, that “late great” Jack Layton sold Canada and progressive values out for a shot at greater power and prestige for himself and his party, pure and simple. I said election night 2011 that his political epitaph should be he won the battle to lose the war, of course not knowing that would literally be his epitaph some weeks later as it turned out he almost certainly hid his returning terminal illness in the election campaign (sorry, I have a hard time believing he had no signs of it until after election night). This was EXACTLY what Harper was relying on to gain his hold on the PMO in first minority and then finally majority, and thanks to Layton and Dippers like him and apparently you we have had the last decade of destruction and salting of the scorched earth of government. Way to go there champs!

      Now it appears it will have been all for naught, with the return of the Libs under Trudeau it seems almost a certainty that after the next election Mulcair will be junior to Trudeau in the House, the only questions will be whether it is second to Trudeau’s first or third behind both Trudeau and Harper (and so far this is clearly the more likely). The polls make it hard to see anything else, and I include all the by-election polls in that, the fundraising evidence, the membership numbers being signed since the last election and/or once each party got their new leader.

      The sad irony?

      If instead the 2005 NDP had supported the Libs against Harper, had made sure Harper could not beat the Martin Libs, then he would have lost his at the time shaky grip on his party (yes, it is hard to remember but in 2005 Harper was a desperate man facing building internal revolt). Martin would likely have won another government, probably another minority, Harper would have been deposed, a leadership fight within the CPC between the now discredited Harper wing and the more traditional Red Tory wing would have happened leaving the party weakened whomever they chose to lead. This would have left Layton and the NDP well positioned to replace the Libs for government in the election following between their scandal history and more simply electoral fatigue from being government for so long, and by showing restraint in working to prevent the rise of a dangerous extremist like Harper gained credibility as a serious trustable party and leader for the skeptical centrist vote they need and have such a hard time getting. This I was saying back in 2005, and said it was at least as possible as this idea of successfully replacing the Libs. I wonder now if a Dipper could go back in time and show Layton the current result whether he would then chose this path instead, or still think he could somehow with foreknowledge better murder the Lbs.

      I do now know, I just know that the NDP sold out their values and principles for a shot at power and removal of their main obstacle to that power. That they were more comfortable with the existence of the CPC than the Libs despite their being the greater actual threat to their values because the Libs were the greater electoral threat. Thanks for making clear that what I’ve been saying about Layton and the Dipper strategy for a decade now is not mere “partisan Lib operative rantings”, something I’ve had many Dippers claim to be the case. It is also why at this point the idea that the Libs and NDP can come together is clearly ludicrous, the best one can hope for is a tactical coalition in a minority situation, and even there it is going to be tricky, the bad blood after this past decade is not minor.

      • doconnor says:

        “I just know that the NDP sold out their values and principles for a shot at power and removal of their main obstacle to that power.”

        You admit your own partisan blindness.

        We had neo-liberal government under Chrétien and Martin from 1993 to 2006. Then we had even an more neo-liberal government from 2006 to 2011 under Harper largely thanks to unconditional support from the Liberal party. That is the Liberal legacy. Layton triggering the 2011 election a couple months before Martin promised to call it doesn’t change that decades of history.

        It is the Liberals who has rejected PR. It is Liberals who has rejected a coalition. Those are the true solutions to Harper.

        • Scotian says:


          You just cannot understand that I have no partisan blindness except for opposing Harper!!! We’ve done this dance before, I normally DO NOT CARE which party people vote for, which leader they vote for, I always cared more that people voted preferably as in an informed voter! That they were involved in the civic process wherever their political preferences took them! I was however an informed political watcher as well as a process geek swing centrist voter who understood the basic platforms and policies of ALL the major parties for decades prior to the rise of Harper and it is THAT which informs my views regarding how I see responsible for our current political reality and how we got there.

          It is YOUR partisan blindness to your own side’s clear willingness to place expediency ahead of its much vaunted claim of being the only principled party versus all those nasty expediency driven parties and how it created out current political realities that is the problem, not mine, which since I am not a partisan in the proper definition of the term underscores the point. I remember when the NDP actually was a party that placed principled first, but by the time of Layton that was drifting away and he finished the job. That you and yours fail to see it or worse celebrate it as turning the tables on those nasty Libs, well the hypocrisy is on you,not on me.

          I’m tired of being branded a Lib partisan, I’ve spent a decade over and over pointing out why I see the Libs as the only effective way of stopping Harper based on the objective demographic realities, and none of the Dipper partisans have ever been able to refute those facts, so instead they use this crap. Well sorry Dippers, the Libs have their own faults but at least they tried to stop Harper from power, which is a lot more than I’ve seen from your camp, and THAT is MY only true partisan element in my political nature. Deal with it and with me honestly please, disagree with me honestly please, but stop assuming my reality/truth for me please!

          I will say you are helping to yet again show Kinsella’s point though on just how incompatible the cultures are, how toxic the situation between the two sides are from the Dipper side, and after a decade of trying to murder the Libs I would be very surprised to find the Lib loyalists feeling any less toxic towards you and yours. Me, I weep because I’ve spent a decade of this idiocy enabling the greatest destroyer of true Canadian values and generations of hard work be destroyed by this petty insanity!

          • doconnor says:

            “the Libs have their own faults but at least they tried to stop Harper from power, which is a lot more than I’ve seen from your camp,”

            I disagree with this claim. You present no supporting evidence for it. I claim the NDP has done more to stop Harper then the Liberals, especially considering they have had less leverage.

            – The NDP only supported the Conservative minority once in exchange for hundreds of millions in EI improvements. The Liberals supported the Conservative minority for most of its existence in exchange for nothing but more confidence votes.

            – The NDP supported the coalition and has expressed willingness to try again.

            – The NDP supports PR which would prevent false majorities.

            – The NDP has been more aggressive in criticising the Conservatives during their majority and has presented more alternative polices.

            – The Liberals was indifferent to police abuses during the G20 and other issues.

            – During the previous Liberal government they cut to deficit on the backs of the provinces and the poor and then used the surplus to pay for corporate tax cuts. They only introduced their day care and aboriginal plans in the dying months of their government.

            – The only advantage the Liberals have is that they usually poll higher then the NDP.

            – The only other person on this site who spends so much time claiming they are nonpartisan is Al.

            – In conclusion, point form is easier to read

          • Gayle says:

            The NDP has worked with Harper to combat the liberals, even when Harper was PM. Take, for example, the fact the NDP and CPC teamed up to retroactively change the fundraising rules just after the LPC leadership race in 2006. Leadership candidates raised money based on one set of rules, and then, thanks to the NDP and CPC, were forced to try to repay that money using a whole new set of restrictive rules. Despite knowing they were the ones who tied the liberal candidates’ hands, the NDP took great pleasure in joining the CPC in pointing out as often as possible that the LPC candidates could not even repay their own debts.

            As for the rest, most of that posturing was again the NDP and CPC teaming up. All the parties knew the LPC were hampered financially and could not afford to run another election. This is why Harper made all the votes confidence motions. He knew the LPC would have to support him or head into an election they could not afford.

            I do not blame the NDP for joining forces with the CPC to hurt the LPC – that is politics. But I do not hold them out to be some sainted force that works only for good. The NDP is a political party just like the CPC and LPC. The NDP will govern just like the CPC and LPC should they ever get the chance. And they will not get a chance until they destroy the LPC, so their MO in the past 10 years has been focused on that, and not on the CPC. While Mulcair has been more focused on Harper than Layton, even he has been guilty of sleazy Harperesque moves. For example, when he was first elected leader he sent his MP’s out to filibuster the debate on the budget. He did this to prevent the third party MP’s from being given an opportunity to speak. I do not recall any time the LPC or CPC ever filibustered when they were in opposition to prevent the NDP from speaking.

          • doconnor says:

            The Accountability Act wasn’t enacted until Dec 12, but was introduced on Apr 11, 2006 within a couple of weeks of the start of the leadership campaign.

          • Gayle says:

            The very notion that an individual has to govern themselves in accordance to proposed legislation is silly enough, but in this case it is even worse. The version of the Act that was introduced, and enacted on December 12, 2006, had a contribution limit of $5000.00 to leadership candidates. On Jan 1, 2007 that limit magically, and retroactively, changed to $1000.00. See here (scroll down to s. 405)


            The LPC leadership campaign ended Dec. 5, 2006. For some reason the CPC and NDP thought it was super important to change those contribution limits asap. They also, disingenuously, argued that the candidates who could not pay their debts be charged under the Elections Act. This, of course, was impossible as no court would convict them for failing to follow the rules that were imposed after the debt was incurred.

      • davie says:

        Mmh…I partly agree about Layton. In that leadership I had Layton last on my ballot. I did not want a Toronto/Montreal federal leader. Blaikie for me. (I’m a homer.) But, I agree, Layton did play politics that looked something like what Liberals have always done so well, and Conservatives have done so ham handedly.

        But, I remember watching those Chretien front benches and their, oh so clever, idea of ‘accountability,’ and thinking, ‘You fools are going to give this country a Reform government with that crap.’

  5. Liamsue says:

    Simply discussing such a scenario pre-election will be enough to motivate the Conservative base on Election Day, and could also scare some blue Liberals to the Conservative camp. The thoughts of a socialist government having their hands on the public purse, is enough to make blue liberals lose sleep. It’s also hard to imagine Mulcair really wanting to share power with Trudeau. It would be like the professor and the student both sharing responsibility and reward for a university course. I don’t think that even the attraction of power would allow such a marriage to survive for long.

    • Torontonian says:

      What is this “socialism” you speak of?

    • hollinm says:

      Good analysis. Harper is going to use Mulcair’s speculation about a coalition as a weapon in the coming campaign. Whether Trudeau agrees or not is immaterial. Harper will define it as Trudeau’s hidden agenda. The fact is Trudeau needs to win 170 seats to form a majority government. Good luck with that. Francophone Quebec will stick with the Dippers. The Maritimes will support the Liberals. The West will support Conservatives. B.C. will be a split with the Conservatives winning most seats. Ontario will not want a Liberal government in Ottawa when they have one provincially. So the idea of a coalition being touted is not really going to happen.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        Those who deliberately choose to mouth platitudes will quickly succumb to the scourge of conventional wisdom.

    • Bob Forward says:

      History shows that Liberal minority supported by NDP can work. That is what gave us medicare. History also shows that Harper cannot deal with a minority as he really does not like to compromise. Current seat projections show either a Liberal or a Conservative minority as the most likely outcome. If the GG does his job he will ask the second place party if they wish to try to govern when the first place party is defeated by a vote of no confidence.

      • Liamsue says:

        Actually Bob, I think recent history indicates that Harper CAN deal with a minority. It’s how he’s governed for the majority of his mandate. I agree that he doesn’t like to compromise, but you may recall that the bulk of the recent budget deficits were the result of him having no choice but to compromise with the other parties, just to stay in power. I’m not sure his base is over the perceived betrayal, even yet. But he would not have survived his minority mandates had he not capitulated.

        • Gayle says:

          I don’t think he really had to compromise. He was dealing with a fractured and broke liberal party. He was able to govern like a majority for the most part.

    • ben burd says:

      “The thoughts of a socialist government having their hands on the public purse, is enough to make blue liberals lose sleep.”

      The sooner commenters lose this crap from their thinking than I will stop calling Harper a dictator and his band of sheep Fascists.

      There are no Socialists in Parliament thanks to the disastrous move to homogenise political thinking to attract the swing voter.

      The point of Warren’s post was to point out not only can a coalition not succeed but never will because of very closed minds in the current political parties. Open your minds people and stop relying on buzzwords that are not only untrue but insults.

      Socialism indeed!

      • Jack Kerouac says:

        “The sooner commenters lose this crap from their thinking than I will stop calling Harper a dictator and his band of sheep Fascists.”

        Ahm yes; it sure sounds like you’ll drop that right away.

        And you are using the old, “I’m so much smarter than everyone else” argument. “Sheeple – open your eyes! If only you thought exactly like me, things would be perfect!”

        Open mind, indeed!

  6. Maps Onburt says:

    Warren is on a roll lately. I don’t remember the last time he wrote a column I didn’t mostly agree with (and I’m a died in the wool conservative). The Liberals and Dippers can’t stand each other. Yes, the dippers think PM Harper is the anti-Christ but without him they are irrelevant. PM Harper is the paper target but Junior Trudeau is who they are really gunning for. This election is going to be fun to watch.

    • Africon says:

      Agree with Maps, Warren is correct about the hatred between the three parties but isn’t it the voter that will decide?
      Fact is the only person that I agree with 100% of the time is MOI!

      Like Maps, I’d far sooner vote Liberal than NDP as there is far more common ground when it comes down to how “we” view this country of ours once we get past the personal factors that exist primarily in the HOC.

      I keep reading about the vast majority of “progressive” votes in Canada ie Libs and NDP but would argue that there is and always has been a far larger majority of anti- NDP votes in this Country.

      Now if the voters would just toss them all out and vote in a real Libertarian government, I’d be a happy camper.

  7. doconnor says:

    In a minority government not making a coalition means the Liberals or the NDP has to vote to support a Conservative government (The Bloc won’t likely be an option any more). It’s not about who they like, but who they dislike less.

    I believe the Sherbrooke Declaration was the brainchild of Pierre Ducasse, who ran Canada’s more influential 5th place leadership campaign and became policy when Mulcair was still a Quebec Liberal. I remember because I was there when it passed (and I voted for it). It was the second most controversial policy at the convention after the policy to not support the Afghanistan intervention.

  8. gyor says:

    Mulcair is sincre in his offer, but what really motivated it was NDP Liberal swing voters love the coalition idea and because Trudeau was foolish enough to say no, Mulcair can use it as a wedge issue against Trudeau.

    And there are more reasons why the NDP hate the Liberals.

    1. The NDP view the Liberals as Corrupt.
    2. The NDP view the Liberals as liars, look at all the broken promises in the red book.
    3. The Board of Internal Economy Kangaroo Court, the NDP wasn’t even allowed to call witnesses in its defence, the whole thing was hypocritical, and wasn’t fair. Many Dippers will hate Trudeau to the grave for this one alone, and I’m one of them.
    4. The NDP feel betrayed after the last attempt at Coalition.

    Mulcair would still do a coalition, because it wants the power to make positive difference, and beside Mulcair was a member of the Quebec Liberal Party, he’s used to working with people he doesn’t trust and can’t stand with deep idealogical differences.

    In a coalition situtation I see if Mulcair leads, Trudeau retiring and if Trudeau leads it, Mulcair turns him into a puppet, a figure head while Mulcair runs things, replacing Butts who has done that.

    Also keep in mind the NDP needs only 20 more seats from what they currently have to achieve a minority government with Liberal Support, the bar for government isn’t that high.

  9. cgh says:

    Sound analysis, Warren, I agree with all of it. Particularly point 10. It will be a very frosty day in hell when the Chretien Liberals ever swallow that bitter pill called Sherbrooke.

  10. gyor says:

    I find it baffling that the Liberals think they’re the Champions of national unity when all evidence points to the fact that they’re the primary source of national disunity. Meech Lake and Charletown accords were sabotage by the efforts of Trudeau Senior, which lead to the formation of the Bloc because of his own ego. Seperation Referundums happen only under federal liberal leaders, not under anyone else, heck it took the NDP a federalist party, to take down the bloc, the Liberals just weren’t capable of it. And the Sanherbrook Declarion is a federalist posititon, just because the Liberals have no respect for democracy doesn’t make it more federalist.

  11. Houland Wolfe says:

    If Mulcair is being mischievous, then who is being disingenuous? In a hung Parliament, where the Tories have the second most seats, the Liberals and the NDP will talk parliamentary agenda. Even if the Tories have the most seats but are in a minority, the second and third party will talk. In the 1985 election, Frank Miller had the most seats, but it was the David Peterson/Bob Rae “accord” that won the day.

  12. davie says:

    Seems to me that the Layton Ignatieff Duceppe thing was that the NDP and Libs would be a coalition, with support from the Bloc. So there are variations to the way cooperation could work. Lots of chicanery can happen but the way it is supposed to work is that the MP who can command a majority in the House of Commons is the one the GG should approach to form a government.
    My hope is that the Nathan Cullen – Elizabeth May people who want to see a step forward in the fairness and efficiency of our representation will agree to any cooperation contingent on proportional rep of some kind.

  13. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    If it’s a minority Parliament, watch it go very quickly down and dirty. All three leaders will be prepared to sell Mom and Dad down the river in short order just to command the confidence of the House.

    Watch out for those elbows!

  14. Liam Young says:

    It’s time to throw out the cry babies with the bath water. I’m ready to start fresh because they both suck in their terrible, unexciting ways.
    We need a new party that will tear the heart and soul out of both parties and bury them at last. If we don’t, we might as well get our gun cards, buy into ‘oil: our BFF’ and figure out which shade of brown we like best for our shirts.

  15. Gayle says:

    I think if it’s a conservative minority with a liberal opposition, Trudeau will be content to let Harper have his minority government (though my guess is the CPC will be in a leadership contest at that point). Last time Harper had a minority, the LPC were weak. If it happens now they will be stronger, and wealthier. The CPC will not be able to strong arm the LPC by making every vote a confidence motion. Meanwhile, Trudeau consolidates his position as leader of the Official Opposition and the government in waiting. Shortly after the CPC have a new leader Trudeau tries to bring the government down. Mulcair then either supports Trudeau or props up the conservatives.

  16. Felipe Morales says:

    Warren: to me is simple. The Clarity Act was a political masterpiece and it is a pillar of our federation. Jean Chretien’s eternal legacy to anyone who cherishes peace and order in Québec should be forever grateful. Separatists know it is, has been and will be their death knell. That’s why they want to get rid of it. Shame on Mulcair for appeasing separatists on this. That’s why I believe in the Liberal Party and will not join the NDP

  17. Ridiculosity says:

    There will be NO need for a coalition because it’s going to be a majority government.

    Led by Justin Trudeau.

  18. Johnnyy Librano says:

    Mr. Kinsella writes:

    “The NDP loathe the Liberals, mainly, because they regard them as a party without ideology and therefore principles. Oddly, most Dippers prefer the Tories—“because they at least believe in something.”

    Given that the Liberals don’t believe in anything except being in power and stuffing their pockets with ill-gotten goods and services, as in their last great political accomplishment: the Sponsorship Scandal, shouldn’t it be easy for the NDP to absorb these mindless fiends?

    Just promise the Liberals anything if they merge with the NDP, and decide later how you want to deal with them.

    Mr. Kinsella writes:

    “Mulcair therefore regards Trudeau as unfit to shovel the driveway at Stornoway.”

    My opinion of Mulcair just rose significantly.

    p.s. It’s because the Liberals are without principle or principled philosophy, and their only reason for existence is to be in power (1), I will never again vote for them.

    (1) I am still repulsed by the stench of the Liberal Party’s Sponsorship Scandal, the reason they were thrown out of power in 2004 and will remain so, despite Justin Trudeau’s skin-deep charm.

  19. doconnor says:

    The fact that Liberals have no principles doesn’t mean the NDP won’t work with the Liberals. It would make them easier to manipulate. Unfortunately the Conservatives have done a better job of manipulating the Liberals then the NDP.

  20. Peter O'Malley says:

    Thanks for this Warren. This posting explains clearly why partisan liberals and NDPers will never back anything resembling a strategic voting campaign to get rid of Harper.

    This is useful because it clears the way to discuss the more-realistic possibility of voters who are not partisans using their votes to defeat Harper without requiring approval from Tom or Justin.

    Voters can defeat Harper on their own by following three simple rules: 1. Vote 2. In opposition-held ridings, vote to re-elect the incumbent non-conservative MP, regardless of party; 3. in Harper-held ridings, vote for the candidate of whichever party is best positioned to defeat the incumbent Con MP.

    If enough people do that, especially in select ridings where the cons won narrowly, then Harper will be gone. No approval from Tom or Justin, or partisan stalwarts who hate each other, is required!

    • Scotian says:

      I agree, that is the best choice, and hopefully we finally see it happen. While I’ve said I would prefer to see a massive Red Tide sweep out the Harper regime, my primary goal is and always has been its removal, period. What matters most to me is that, and your simple method is exactly what is needed to make it a reality. It really is that simple. My main hope this election is that Harper has so irked and alienated enough Canadians that those who vote once or twice a generation are moved to come out this time and vote against him just so they can be rid of this stench of abuse of power and basic legal rights of Canadian citizens. A government whose theft is not of money but of power and rights is far worse for us all.

      I’ve long understood the reason the two parties will not work together, the cultural differences between them, and the posturing each does to make it sound like the other party is the main one guilty. Most of this is not new, the only thing I found new in the past decade was the willingness to allow a true destroyer of progressive values, principles, and policies access to the position to destroy all that has been created over decades in that direction and whose clear agenda was not just to destroy but do so in a manner as to make rebuilding afterwards as difficult to impossible as he could. THAT is what really baffled (and yes infuriated) me about the choice the NDP made, it wasn’t like Harper’s true nature and agenda was something he hid from the late 80s through to the 2004 election after all.

      The NDP placed beating their electoral rivals ahead of stopping the greatest threat to their much vaunted core values and principles. That to me shows the NDP to be a party as driven by expediency as the other two, yet they still want to claim they are a different and better kind of party. For all the Libs faults they don’t try to sell this particularly offensive and nauseating holier than thou brand of hypocrisy. They acknowledge they are pragmatists and that there are times expediency wins out over principles, but at least they try to provide good government with it. Which given the record Canada had as a progressive wonderful nation to live in and seen as internationally prior to the Harper years speaks volumes for the truth of this as opposed to what the rhetorical partisans on the left in particular would want/have us believe about Lib governments.

      In any event, so long as enough voters follow your simple three step guide this election we should finally be at the end of this national nightmare. Since we cannot trust the parties or leaders to do it then we the citizens have to do so ourselves, but then isn’t that a part of what being a citizen of a democratic society is all about?

  21. Mr. D says:

    The only way Canada will get a united centre-left political party is if the Liberals are completely eradicated leaving only the Cons and NDP.

    Blue Grits can vote Con and Red Grits can go NDP; or, Grit voters can just stay home and cry in their milk/beer/wine for a decade.

    If you believe in a rational two party system then vote Conservative in October to resolve the political logjam on the centre-left.

  22. Dieter Heinrich says:

    How can either the NDP or Liberals say to voters—even as they ask for our trust to govern—that they have the public interest foremost in their concerns, when it is so clear both are putting party and ego interests ahead of country? 

    By jamming the first-past-the-post mechanism of choice forced on us as Canadians by our woeful political system, Mulcair and Trudeau are standing in the way of the manifest will of the Canadian people to obtain an end to Harper’s rule. It is sickening to see that, in this hour of urgent need, Mulcair and Trudeau are choosing the risky path of seeking all-or-nothing power for themselves, instead of doing the easy thing they could do to end the rule of Harper, which is to cooperate. It only has to be for this one election. The parties don’t have to merge. Just cooperate to gain power long enough to change the electoral system to proportional representation.

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