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.
New Democrat party president Brian Topp — who is one of the brainiest political backroom boys you’ll ever meet, and is now a contender for Jack Layton’s post — sounds distinctly unenthusiastic about getting together with the dastardly Liberals. This would be the same Topp, mind you, who was at the forefront of the 2009 Grit-Dipper talks that very nearly resulted in a coalition government. He even wrote a book about it.
Likely NDP leadership candidate Pat Martin? Used to be utterly silent on the subject, now he’s all for it.
Quebec NDP MP Thomas Mulcair? A year or so ago, was “categorically” against such an idea.
Now, Ottawa media note, he’s leaving the door open. And so on.
Like I say: Stephen Harper and his gang must be having a good old laugh about what they’re seeing across the aisle.
Personally, I think progressives need to come together to do some good for the country. Others who have felt likewise include Jean Chretien, Ed Broadbent and Roy Romanow. Oh, and Jack Layton. In 2009, you may recall Layton was perhaps the most enthusiastic proponent of co-operation/coalition/merger of all. It was in all the papers.
To those who are now fulminating against bringing progressives together, I say this, and with the greatest of respect: Messrs. Chretien, Broadbent, Romanow and Layton have forgotten more about politics than you will ever know. In politics, experience — and winning — counts.
Each of those men were winners. And each one knows that, as long as progressives remain divided, Stephen Harper will keep on winning.
The guy who federal Liberals and New Democrats should look to for inspiration, by the way, is Harper himself.
He’s no dummy. Harper watched the divided right get its face rubbed in the dirt by Jean Chretien in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
He knew his fellow conservatives would never win power if they didn’t get their act together.
So, in 2005, he brought together the warring Reformer-Alliance-PC factions, and he won in the election that happened right after. That, more than anything else he has done, is Harper’s single greatest achievement.
It’s also, by the way, why Harper has expended so much of his time demonizing co-operation/coalition/merger on the left.
He knows it is the only thing that can dislodge his grip on power. Brilliantly, he made “coalition” a dirty word — even when polls consistently showed Canadians thought the NDP and the Liberals should get together.
So, with merger in the news again — and with assorted Grit and Dipper luminaries contorting themselves into knots over the subject — will it ever happen?
Not a chance.
Some of the characters who populate the opposition benches in Ottawa can’t see the proverbial forest for the proverbial trees. They think they’re smarter than Messrs. Chretien, Broadbent, Romanow and Layton.
They’re not. They’re losers.
And that’s why, if you listen carefully this morning, you can hear peals of laughter emanating from Stephen Harper’s reading room.