Monday, September 17, 2012

Moving Towards Merger

Paul Adams argues at ipolitics that whoever wins the Liberal leadership race must consider some kind of entente with the New Democrats. The Liberals' old guard has floated the idea:

For a starter, there was Jean Chr├ętien, the most successful modern Liberal prime minister. There was his experienced strategic sidekick, Eddie Goldenberg. Oh yes, and then there was the most prominent Liberal MP left standing after the 2011 election. Someone named Bob Rae. 

But when Rae said he was open to considering that option, the party's backroom operatives -- the folks who engineered Michael Ignatieff's ascension -- told Rae to keep his mouth shut. However, writes Adams, Liberals out in the country have not fallen in line:

According to an Ipsos Reid poll just a few months ago, Liberal supporters favour a merger with the NDP by a margin of almost two-to-one.

What Canadian progressives understand is that the math has always been against Stephen Harper. They know that Conservative support will never rise much beyond 35%; and, therefore, Harper is vulnerable -- but only if progressives can get their act together.

In the last half of the last century, Conservatives won power because they had the foresight to merge with the Progressive Party. They understood that Canadians have a natural bias toward the left. Stephen Harper has sought to turn Canadians slowly to the right -- but always relentlessly to the right.

Nathan Cullen's candidacy for the NDP leadership proved that there is an appetite for cooperation within his party. What the Liberals need is someone who can work out the details of that cooperation. After all, it was  cooperation which built the country.


Lorne said...

While I hope some kind of merger or detente is possible, Owen, I can't help but think that given the priority institutional politics places on the acquisition of power over considerations of the public good, I am not especially optimistic.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne, that the power brokers in each party have nixed the idea.

I keep hoping, though, that necessity will prove more powerful than political empire building.

True Blue said...

What? The NDP and the Liberals uniting to form a powerful party of the Left? Brrrrr! Oh, I'm so frightened!
It'll never happen, as you both know - I couldn't have said it better myself, Lorne. Other Canadians are no dummies, either, Lorne; they can recognize gutless, self-serving parliamentary seat-warmers when they see them just as well as you do.
That's one reason why Mr. Harper will remain in power for a long, long time to come.

Owen Gray said...

I would argue that the Conservative caucus are gutless seat warmers, Blue. They dare not challenge Mr. Harper.

If you wish to argue that the Liberals lost their way when they turned to the right, I'll agree.

And I know that there are Dippers who feel that the NDP sold its soul when it elected Mulcair.

Nonetheless, there are times when political parties are faced with stark questions. Now is such a time.

You are right on at least one point. Unless the parties on the left stop beating each other up, Mr. Harper will sit in the cat bird seat for a long time.

Anonymous said...

The liberals are not a party of "the left". At least they weren't under Chretien. Chretien always campaigned from the left, and governed from the right. I guess that makes him a centrist.

Owen Gray said...

That's quite true of the party under Chretien.Some commenators would say that, if Mulcair wins, he'll campaign from the left and govern from the centre.

Mogs said...


The only thing that frightens me about the merger is that then we will have only a 2 - party system vis a vis the Excited States...

Exactly what Mr. Stephen Harper and the 1% is engineering. Mr. Mail Boy is playing his role well. When you have only a two party system it is much easier for the 1% to buy off both sides as they have already succeeded doing south of the border.

Out west it is the 49th parallel but I know southern Ontario is as far south as Portland Oregon...

Mr. Harper is on record of saying that a coalition government would be best for Canada, so then it is obvious that he has been bought and paid for...

From "Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan: Our Benign Dictatorship, Next City, Winter 1996/97...

...Our benign dictatorshipCanada's [sic not mine but stephen's] system of one-party-plus rule has stunted democracy. Two prominent conservatives present the case for more representative government by Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan...

...Here's to bringing down our benign dictatorship! Canada deserves nothing less." - Stephen Harper's own words.

Link here:

What exactly is a benign dictatorship Stevie mail boy wonder bot? Something you have been bought and paid for to run I suppose?

Mogs said...

True Blue:

You are certainly the cheerleader for Harper, how do your pom-poms look at my last post?


Owen Gray said...

Coalition government was Harper's ticket to 24 Sussex at the time, Mogs. Remember: his motto is whatever it takes. He badmouthed coalitions in the last election.

There may never be a formal merger. But unless the opposition starts co-ordinating their efforts, Harper will be around for a long time -- something he's counting on.