Friday, March 16, 2012

Our raison d'être can't be opposing

The always bubbling in the background chatter about the dream of a few to see the Liberals and NDP to merge or form some sort of coalition came to the surface again recently with comments made by Liberal MPJustin Trudeau in Victoria and broadcast by Sun TV. Here’s a snippet:

“By 2015, with the election approaching, if neither party has gotten their act together enough to shine or be the obvious alternative, then there will be a lot of pressure for us to start looking at that. I think there’s not anyone in parliament outside of the Conservative Party of Canada that is willing to risk seeing Stephen Harper become Prime Minister one more time.”

Since as it stands the choice would likely be between Harper and Prime Minister Mulcair, or maybe Prime Minister Nash, I think many would actually have to seriously consider that question.

Anyway, I reject the idea of merger or coalition along the motivations as floated by Trudeau. First of all, our raison d'être can't be opposing. I joined the Liberal Party because it best represented by beliefs and worldview, and that’s why I remain an active supporter today. I didn’t join because I hated Brian Mulroney, and I don’t remain active because I think Harper is a devil.

Wanting to stop the Conservatives is no reason to mash two groups with very different philosophies and beliefs together. It’s like a couple that don’t love each other getting married for the good of their child. In the long run, an unhappy marriage won’t do the kid any good, and you probably divorce anyway. The Liberals and the NDP aren’t the Progressive Conservatives and Reform. Reform split off from the PCs and then came back together; Liberals and NDP have always been very separate, and different.

And the laundry list of irreconcilable policy differences, from Quebec to the Middle East, is just too great. There's also the fact that the math just doesn't work. As the NDP grew in support in the last election, Liberal support began to bleed to the Conservatives as well. One plus one does not equal two in this case.

We all need to offer something more to Canadians than “we’re not Stephen Harper.” That’s not going to engage anyone but the most ardent partisans and, besides, most Canadians don't dislike Harper as much as Trudeau and other partisans do. Offer Canadians a more compelling alternative and you’ll get somewhere; a negative option will get you nowhere, even with all the coalitions in the world.

Mashing apples and oranges together under some kind of “not Harper” banner is no path to relevancy, and we need to stop looking for short cuts. 

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Kirbycairo said...

Your analogy is problematic - it is not like two parents staying together for the 'good' of the children, it is more like two neighbours with different philosophies cooperating to stop a gang of killers from terrorizing and burning down the whole city.

Vancouverois said...

You're absolutely right. This constant demonization of Harper is completely uninspiring.

I keep hoping that the Liberal Party will return to its role as staunch defenders of federalism against the separatists - something which Dion does in that article, and an issue on which both the NDP and the Conservatives have many sins to answer for - but for the most part, I'm still waiting.

Dan F said...

Regarding the middle east, people on both sides of the issue have noted Mr Mulcair's statements in support of Israel...

Skinny Dipper said...

There times when political parties such as the Liberals and NDP can cooparate. If there is a minority parliament and these two parties hold the balance of power, they can cooperate in a formal or informal coalition. However, it would be very difficult for these two parties to cooperate by dividing the riding into two groups and running only one candidate against the Conservatives. Which party would get two run in the winning ridings?

While negative campaigning is a fact of life in politics, parties to need to put a positive spin on themselves or else their leaders can be accused of being just "Dr. No" candidates--people who have nothing good to say.

Finally, any pre-election cooperation agreement between the Liberals and NDP doesn't mean that Liberal voters will automatically support and NDP candidate and vice-versa. 1 + 1 does not always equal 2.

WhigWag said...

But if the current balance doesn't shift, there's a third way, besides merger or another five years of the Conservatives systematically dismantling & denuding the Canada we hold near & dear:

the one Cullen's pushing:

1-time electoral cooperation, w. the commitment to implement some sort of proportional rep., to ensure all the parties & 60% of the voters are no longer disenfranchised, thereafter

Steve V said...

Darrell Dexter is a Lib, Gary Doer is a Lib, Dalton McGuinty could easily be a dipper, our interim leader could still be a dipper, Mulcair is a Lib, Cullen is a Lib, Dion was left wing, Ignatieff was center, Kennedy could be a dipper.

Once you just look at individuals, real world provincial manifestations, the lines or belief systems that are so "unique" really do fall apart.

You also can't look at the two "silos" as maintained in any union, some of the offensive positions of both would be compromised, no question about it, for it to work. Really, when we saw the Dion coalition, it represented a compromise, no reason that could be extended to an electoral agreement or even a new party. Take the Middle East for example, throw party members from both into the same pot, you're simply not going to get the status quo results, membership will impact policy, positions will moderate.

I think the trouble people have is they look at present manifestations and assume they maintain, when I contend pragmatism would create something entirely new. A perfect fit? Absolutely not, but then again, the examples at the beginning show people already compromise themselves in the name of party affiliation, the actual spectral considerations take a back seat to the colour.