06.03.2010 08:47 AM

“Close consultations.” Conditions may apply.

Harper in Opposition, then: “The opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation…consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options.”

Harper in power, now: “Losers don’t get to form coalitions.”

That is, he wanted a government led by conservatives, even if it involved the “separatists,” because it would get them power. But he’s against “close consultation” for the federalist centre and left, because – among other things – it means conservatives would lose power.

Starting to get the impression he doesn’t want a coalition to happen, perhaps?  That it worries him?

I am.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    “Losers don’t get to form coalitions. Winners are the ones who form governments.”

    Sounds like schoolyard bully language. Not fitting for a Prime Minister at all, but then – consider the source.

    • Catherine says:

      so in your world what is a party called when it loses an election? First runner-up? Election-challenged? Pretty straight forward language in the context of elections.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I think you know perfectly well that calling someone a “loser” is well-known, inflammatory slang. Let’s be honest about that, at least.

        And as I said, not fitting for a Prime Minister. But then, I have never regarded him as my Prime Minister.

        • Jim says:

          Is anyone else starting to wonder if Elizabeth is really a die-hard Conservative flying a false flag?

          I mean, seriously, take any of her posts and do the following:

          1) Replace Harper with Obama.
          2) Replace fascist with commie.
          3) Replace secret Christian agenda with secret Muslim agenda.

          The result would be identical to 90% of the postings on SDA! 🙂

          Try it yourself and prove me wrong!!!!

          (And, no Elizabeth, I do not believe that Barack Obama is either communist or Muslim.)

          • Elizabeth says:

            Nice to know that I’m attracting attention. You don’t make any sense at all, but I guess it indicates nervouness on the part of the Tories.

      • James Bow says:

        How can there be losers when nobody wins a majority in parliament?

        • Catherine says:

          Like it or not Elizabeth an election is a contest decided by voters who get to decide who wins and who loses. That goes for electing party leaders too. I’m pretty sure that both the CPC and NDP elected their leaders (winners)….not so much the Liberals.

    • Sandra says:

      Actually, I think it’s also an indirect insult to David Cameron. Harper has no statesmanship whatsoever.

  2. robert says:

    Check the first quote again. Harper didn’t say “I tell you, that in this room and every room like this across Canada, if we rise together in solidarity and support, the Conservative Party will live again!” Lyin’ Brian said that.

    Harper said:

    “A culture of defeat…”

    “Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task.”

    “[Y]our country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.”

  3. Catherine says:

    “Starting to get the impression he doesn?t want a coalition to happen, perhaps? That it worries him?”

    Yep, you can spin it that way if you wish. I’d wager you’d be wrong if you’re assuming that Harper isn’t doing a spin-job of his own with that comment.

  4. Michael Harkov says:

    “Starting to get the impression he doesn’t want a coalition to happen, perhaps? That it worries him? I am.”
    Or he could be just goading your team to say, “oh yeahhhhhhhhhhh????”, and like lemmings, in you guys go, much to his glee. Another trap sprung, thanks.

    Oh, and by the by, unless I am mistaken, that quote regarding Conservative “solidarity” belongs to Mulroney, not Harper. Harper was one of the architechs who merged two parties. A coalition of wary partners is hardly that. And he is right, in a very real sense; that losers don’t get to form coalitions. People are losing sight of the fact that the Tories hold the most seats and are likely to again after the next election, with incumbancy as a sitting PM. Why have you guys not given a thought to what would happen if the party with the most seats tried to form a working coalition? Coalition lovers better be careful in what they pine for.

    • Jan says:

      Cons threatening to form a working coalition??? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard. The other parties have spent 4 years trying to work with Harper, with no success, for God’s sake.

    • wilson says:

      If Jack runs on ‘making parliament work’ and ‘Liberals Torie same old story’
      it is not unthinkable for the British election results to be replicated here with a Con-NDP coalition.
      Like Warren points out, Harper was game before.

      One thing is for sure, if Jack forces his king-maker hand,
      we all know which of the 2 leaders, Ignatieff or Harper, would be in ‘control’ of the coalition.
      In a Con-Dipper coalition, Harper being a ‘control freak’ would not be a bad thing.

  5. Paul R. Martin says:

    At the very least, the coalition idea gives Liberals something to discuss, as the abortion stuff fizzled out. I still think that the Liberal Party would be better off if it had something positive to talk about. For example, the Chretien hanging had positive vibes.

  6. The Tiger says:

    It would have been interesting to see how a Lab-Lib-Scots-Welsh coalition would have been received in Britain. Because that would have been the closest thing to the 2008 attempt.

    Me, I welcome the merger on the left, though I’d rather see it precipitated by a Harper majority. It’s useful, having a clear decision to make between left and right.

    But that’s precisely why some of your readers probably aren’t as keen on a coalition or merger.


    I say go for it. Let’s have it out. Summer election!

  7. John says:

    So how high a deficit will a Liberal/NDP coalition run? 75 million? 100 million? How many brown envelopes can you stuff for your friends? How many terrorists can you coddle? How fast will you bankrupt the country? And how close to the sparatists will you get? In bed or just on the couch? Go ahead, form your coalition of the losers and watch Canadians give the Conservatives 60% next election.

    • wilson says:

      I agree, but those concerns are there only because Ignatieff is a push over, easily led donw the garden path.
      And because Bob Rae might take over as leader of the LPC.

    • smelter rat says:

      You support the current regime because the Reformatories have done such a good job managing the deficit, I guess.

    • Jim says:

      John – Have you opened a newspaper in, say, the last two years?

      Our current government spends like a proverbial drunken soldier. The projected deficit for this year is $56 billion! The current G8/G20 security cost nonsense pretty much torpedoes any claims of fiscal responsibility by the CPC.

      As for brown envelopes, my God man, have you ever heard of a fellow named Brian Mulroney?

    • Michael Watkins says:

      John, with all due respect, it was 10 prior years of Liberal administrations that quite consistently delivered balanced budgets or surpluses. Even during mini recessions in the 2000’s or the aftermath of 9/11/2001, at no point did Liberal governments dig a debt hole in any way shape or form like the Conservatives have done in the past two years, even when they claimed they were not.

      Harper, right from the start of fiscal year 2008 – before he even called the 2008 election – had been spending far more than receipts, piling on the debt even as he claimed he would not do so. While governments from time to time do short term borrowings to make up for temporary funding shortfalls, most of which are entirely predictable around the tax year cycle, when a government (or a business) spends more than it takes in, at a rate never before seen in the prior decade, then financial analysts perk up their ears, smelling a rat.

      Something was amiss right from the start that year, yet he and Flaherty lied to us all during Election 08 saying that in no circumstances were they prepared to entertain deficit financing just because the U.S. was having difficulties.

      Only a few weeks after the election, Flaherty and Harper started the spin machine as they ‘fessed up. And as the months post-election would show, the damage being done to Canada’s finances **before a single “stimulus” dollar was spent** was enormous. And it got worse, and worse, and worse.

      Pre-election, October 2008:

      One year later when in October 2009 the July 09 numbers were posted; chart shows more than 80 billion in new debt was racked up in 2008, and for the first four months of 2009, another 50 BILLION.

      Those debt spending lines get worse. Harper has added more public debt to Canada’s accounts than any Liberal administration has over the past decade. Prudent financial managers is not a description the Conservatives can claim for themselves. And

      As for telling the truth about the situation? Forget about it, they are pathological liars.

  8. Herman Thind says:

    I’m not “for” a coalition – especially not before an election. I do support “electoral cooperation”… Still, it seems to me, many idiots still don’t understand how our Parliamentary system works. A MAJORITY of MPs in the House CAN elect their own Prime Minister and govern. It’s that simple. The MPs DON’T have to be of any one party.

    I also love how the right wing loves to make it up as they go along, when a dearth of education leaves them hanging… There is no stipulation that the party with the “largest number of seats” gets to negotiate first. That’s just a good-will gesture. A “tradition” if you will… A lot like the “traditions” that Harper shits all over every day when he goes to Parliament (remember: no “between election advertising”?; How about proroguing when the work of the House is actually mostly finished? Better yet, let’s forget “traditions” and discuss his very own FIXED ELECTION DATE LAW?).

    There is a serious lack of understanding about the workings of our system of government, and it appears that Harper’s propaganda machine loves to take advantage of that ignorance…

    • Jim says:


      Yes, people who have different political views than you and vote for the “wrong” party are stupid, under-educated, or both. Most polls show a fairly even (33% each) split among university educated voters between the Liberals and Tories. Its the NDP, Green, and especially the Bloc that are relatively underrepresented among educated voters. But, hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of your biases.

      Your analysis of the modern Canadian parliamentary system is either painfully naive or willfully obtuse. Either way, it completely ignores how Canadian electoral politics have evolved over the past forty years.

      Gone are the days when voters selected an MP based on their personal strengths, policies, or reputation. Candidates, with rare exceptions, are now mere cyphers for their political parties and, increasingly, just for the Leaders themselves. The CPC and LPC leaders (and to a lesser degree the leader of the NDP) exercise incredible power within their parties including, most critically, the ability to refuse to sign a candidate’s nomination papers. This has neutered the independence that MP’s once had and makes suggestions of broad autonomy for MPs to choose the Prime Minister antiquated and out-of-touch with reality. Sadly, I suspect that a large number (perhaps even a majority in the big urban centres) of voters of ALL political stripes would be hard pressed to name their MP or MPP. My point is that, while you’ve accurately described the formal parliamentary authority of MP’s, they no longer possess the democratic legitimacy to use said powers.

      The proposed 2008 coalition was completely legal and constitutional, but that did not make it democratic or right. Indeed, there have been countless elections in totalitarian regimes, banana republics, and military dictatorships that have been “legal and constitutional”, but they hardly represented the democratic will of the people. The Liberals declined in both seat totals in popular vote in 2008 and, critically, Dion emphatically ruled out a coalition with the NDP during the election (to quote “We cannot have a coalition with a party that has a platform that would be damaging for the economy. Period.”). Conservative support in both respects increased. Imposing Dion as Prime Minister, without a legitimate reason (I’m sorry, the average Canadian voter has zero interest in party finances) or opportunity for Harper to govern with a minority mandate would have been profoundly undemocratic.

      • Greg says:

        The proposed 2008 coalition was completely legal and constitutional, but that did not make it democratic or right.

        Sorry, but if it was constitutional it was democratic and whether it was right or not is just a function of your tribal affiliation.

  9. Catherine says:

    Harper continues to play domestic partisan politics on the international stage.

    Makes him look petty and hard-headed.

    Harper’s ritual is in degrading others.

  10. Matt says:

    I hate to say it but he’s right. The coalition didn’t work because it was filled with “losers”. The Libs lost and people wanted Dion gone but they wanted to install him as PM. Talk about dumb. The NDP are not seen as capable of governing and are a third party while no deal should EVER be made with the Bloc. No wonder people didn’t like it.

    There were many people in the LPC saying at the time the coalition was being formed that this would hurt our brand for a long time but those people weren’t listened to. Now, people just think we’re a bigger version of the left-wing NDP. That, combined with never-ending nonsensical coalition talk, makes it really tough to be seen as a centrist party, especially when you’re not releasing any policy. Fact is: coalition and merger talk HURTS the Liberals. It pushes us to the left and cedes the centre to the CONS and it keeps the NDP stable. What we need is to show we’re socially progressive to appeal to the left-wing voters (so they have a place to come when they want Harper gone), while also being fiscally conservative to appeal to the majority of Canadians. It worked before, it can work again. People who think the current landscape won’t permit us to move up or form a government are just lazy and prefer political expediency to actual renewal and disciplined strategic thinking and execution.

  11. Only because he likes being prime minister. I think there are a lot of Conservatives not currently living in 24 Sussex with a different opinion.

    • Elizabeth says:

      He’s going to hate to leave the perks.

      • Catherine says:

        I’m pretty sure Mr. Ordinary Boring Canadian would be fine with giving up perks Elizabeth. You must be thinking of those of the “political class” and silver spoons.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Seems to me I just heard Andrew Coyne refer to “we in the political class”, in an online debate. Do you want to go after Coyne for being elitist as well, and all the others in the political class who use the same expression? FYI – “class” means “group”. Starting in Kindergarten.

          Mr. Ordinary Canadian is a native of Toronto, who’s never known a tough day in his life. Of course he wants those perks. He’s never had a real job in his life after the mailroom job in Calgary. How on earth is he going to get what people like Chretien, Martin, Mulroney, Trudeau – all went to when they left the PMO and went back to corporate life – with corporate perks?

          LAME argument, Catherine.

  12. Joseph says:

    This Harper, not very smart. Calling people whose votes you need losers, and to do it on foreign soil, reflects both immaturity and foolishness. There is also the delicate fact that the Labour Party, under new leadership, could very well form a government, even a “losers” coalition, in the near future.

    There is also the spitting-on-your-own-self issue. Since Harper has consistently failed to get above 40%, even with Dion as his opposition, you could argue that 60%+ of Canadians have consistently regarded him as the “loser” of elections.

    • Jan says:

      Jay Hill is now complaining about the ‘tyranny of the majority’ in Question Period today. Conservatives just don’t seem to get it.

  13. David Roberts says:

    It sounds like Harper was actually saying the party that has the largest number of seats in a minority is the only party that is entitled to form a majority coalition government. Historically speaking, that is how most (if not all) coalition governments in Canada and the UK are formed.

  14. caoch says:

    Let the Liberals( socialists) merge with the NDP ( COMMIES) BEFORE THE ELECTION ,LETS HAVE IT OUT SOON

  15. wilson says:

    Lucky for Harper, Jack backed out of the informal agreements he was seemingly willing to enter with the Dippers and BLOC.
    The situation would have been reversed, and PM Martin would still be running the country. Hind sight says.

  16. Riff says:

    Harper’s playing domestic politics on the international scene is true to form. He knows that the Canadian media will play and replay the clip a million times over. It is free publicity for the Conservative Party. Harper and his gang in the PMO and their War Room have been very successful in undermining all three opposition parties using various tactics and dirty tricks.
    Rhetoric is very powerful. Black and White moralizing rhetoric is explosive and very effective when used by a populist leader like Harper. By constantly labeling all three opposition party leaders, especially Ignatieff, as losers, Harper is conditioning Canadian voters to reject all three opposition leaders when the next election is called.

    On the matter of a coalition (perhaps later merger) of centre-left parties, Harper and Flanagan have always made it clear that their long term political realignment objective is to force all left of centre parties into a coalition or merger. Why? Because the new left of centre party could be easily dismissed by labeling it socialistic and even communistic.
    A left of centre party would ensure that Harper’s new Conservative Party could win the support of Blue Grits as well as all right-wing Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, and many central and Eastern Europeans who quiver at the thought of Canada being governed by socialists!
    I encourage readers to go back and read what Harper and Flanagan had in mind when they put together the Conservative coalition/merger in 2001-2003.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think it’s a phrase that’s going to come back to haunt him.

    • Jim says:

      Riff – Your comment is insightful and, I suspect, grounded in truth.

      I seem to recall those sort of tactics being used to great success against poor old Stockwell Day. There was a pretty decent book written about it. I think that it was called “Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics”. Damned if I can’t remember the name of the author, though…

    • Cam says:

      That’s an interesting argument. I don’t think the losses of blue Grits would be fatal though.

      But you do highlight the need to develop policies that reflect the will of the voters. For example, I think the NDP provided good input to Trudeau’s minority government of the early 70s. There’s every reason to expect such a *party* now not forward innovative policies to reflect Canadians’ feelings on problems with:

      – Reliance on Big Oil for transportation and self monitoring. Do we value our coastlines?

      – Infrastructure and transition for a post-oil economy. Think it through this time and sell it like it should be sold. It’s much cheaper to make the transition on our terms than those set by OPEC.

      – An end to global police actions that support corrupt, puppet regimes. Afghanistan is a horrible side show – the real problem that nobody has addressed is Pakistan and the beating that the Pakistan people and army are taking while trying to uproot the Taliban there. We all have feelings on Karzai but the investment we’ve made or could continue to make under this situation is totally insufficient to uproot the Taliban in Afghanistan.

      – $1.2B on security for heads of state – why could we not save the money, enhance security and save the planet by doing the whole deal via video conference? That technology did not exist 10 years ago and if the Maldives can hold a cabinet meeting underwater to illustrate the direct threat to them of global warming, the least we can do is try video conferencing.

      I don’t see Harper leading on any of these issues at all. You know Obama was elected based on a theme of “Yes we can.” In every way and every day all I hear from the Conservatives here is ‘No, you can’t’. We can do better.

  17. JH says:

    Now how about this headline:
    Afghan deployment past 2011 possible: MPs
    Liberals’ Rae calls for ‘intense discussion’
    After his newspaper piece about his past successful coaliton effort in Ontario – I’d say he’s thrown down the gauntlet to Ignatieff. Is this not a complete contradiction of the leader’s policy? He must have closely studied that recent poll on coalitions and his chances. Question now is will he let Layton lead the merged parties so they can win Quebec? Does he want to take a chance on being the PM or be assured of winning power with Layton at the controls?

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Tories are worried. They’re constantly paranoid, always looking over their shoulders.

  19. James Smith says:

    I’m a reluctant convert to what Bob Rae called an ACCORD. The point is we are facing some tough choices economically & socially as a country while we have a federal government run by a fella who does not believe in a constructive role for a federal government. ( Just one example is sneaking the sale of AECL into the budget omnibus legislation. This is akin to Dief killing the AVRO ARROW, the job, investment & high tech looses will be huge.)

    How would Canadians react to an Accord? I think they would like it if it is seen as reasonable.
    – If this is framed as parliament getting down to work I think they would accept it.
    – Killing the budget and offering the GG & Canadians an alternative to an election of 18 – 28 month stable agenda would be seen as rational.
    – Crafting a budget that’s similar to the one already delivered (that removes the omnibus provisions) would help.
    – Offering Red Tories at the least Committee Chairs & perhaps cabinet seats would make it seem like a unity government

    I think this is a good option for a country that is presently economically whistling past the graveyard.

    • caoch says:

      save us from Rae and Layton, I have lived under socialism before, in the UK IN 1948, AND DON’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN

  20. Jim says:

    An interesting (although obviously quite Conservative) take on things here:


    Janke does a good job discussing the lack of legitimacy that the 2008 coalition would have had, before veering into some predictable left bad / right good stuff near the end.

    • James Smith says:


      While I didn’t agree at the time, I think the coalition actually had a positive impact.

      – Kicked the kookie Budget of Mr F to the curb
      – Forced the present PM to craft a stimulus budget despite his protests we were not in a recession
      – Showed Canadians that Parliament can work, – not that it has worked all that well since 🙂
      – Laid the groundwork for any potential relationship between the opposition parties.

      If the GG had been somewhat less intimidated by the present PM the coalition might have achieved much more. For me, as you can see from my earlier post, I hope the groundwork may pay off.

      • Jim says:

        James – I pretty much agree with your feelings about the results of the aborted coalition. It humbled Harper, at least temporarily, and forced the government to introduce a budget that better reflected the will of parliament. Political (or democratic) legitimacy aside, Dion and Layton just handled things so badly that it was always doomed to fail. In part, this was due to putting the cart before the horse (why formally sign the coalition on stage before the government had actually fallen?), but mostly because it was done in such an amateurish fashion.

        • James Smith says:


          Yeah, the lame speech captured -late, on a cell phone camera in the hall closet performance by M. Dion kinda did that whole thing in.

          • e says:

            don’t care what steve janke thinks about politics – entirely self-serving and made up crap

  21. Scott Tribe says:

    Just as an aside… Harper had no problems talking to Netanyahu the other day.. he of the 2nd place party from the recent Israeli election that formed a “coalition of the losers” with the “minor parties”.

    Strange how he omitted that.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    I think that Dion did the country a great service by waking us all up. The effect has continued on – ripple effects. Up until then, there was this creepy feeling that things were being done under cover of darkness and behind our backs – by Harper. Dion effectively yanked open the door, and turned on the lights.

    He should someday be rewarded – Order of Canada. He also forged the Clarity Act.

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