Thursday, December 11, 2008
Burying the Coalition Before it's Dead
Well you've got to hand it to the Coalition for Change. Never has a political formation been buried by so many people in such a short time. Before it's even dead.
The Conservatives, and their right-wing stooges in the media tried to embalm it alive. And now some Liberals seem to want to put it on ice. Because they claim it doesn't work.
As it stands right now, Canadians hate the idea of a coalition. Canadians are so weary of it, they move to support Harper, despite blaming him for the crisis. I’ve seen a lot of polls, rarely have I seen a batch so decisive in their rejection, and this fact is the bottom line consideration. A coalition simply won’t fly, unless there is public support, if the perceptions are negative, the idea is DOA.
Now I agree the polls were disappointing, except in Quebec, but isn't it time somebody tried to figure out the reasons for that, rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water?
Because here's what I think:
(1) Between the time it was born and the time Parliament shutdown the Coalition had about a week to make its case to Canadians, and that's not enough time to reassure people spooked by an economic crisis.
(2) Canadians didn't like the idea of Stephane Dion steering the Canadian ship into the eye of the storm, and the hideous video the Liberal Party produced made the whole project look amateurish.
(3) The Conservatives unleashed a barrage of radio ads, challenging the right of the Bloc Quebecois to be even a minor partner in a coalition, made it sound like the evil separatists were staging a coup. They ignited a fire storm of anti-Quebec feeling in English Canada. And the Coalition didn't have the money, or the time, to counter that foul propaganda effectively.
Number one and number two are no longer a problem. Dion is gone, the Coalition has enough time to sell its plan, and calm the fears of the population. And an endorsement by the Governor General would be an enormous boost to its legitimacy.
Which leaves us with number three, Stephen Harper's outrageous claim that allowing the Bloc to support a coalition would endanger our country. When in fact it's exactly the opposite.
Because for starters, the Bloc Quebecois can do absolutely nothing to get Quebec out of Canada, while sitting in the Canadian Parliament. That can only be done by the members of the National Assembly, with the consent of the Quebec people.
Two...Quebecers know that, so most don't even think of the Bloc as sovereignists.
The Bloc presents itself as the defender of "Quebec's interests" rather than as the champion of sovereignty, and so Quebeckers see it as a regular party that makes them feel secure, a comfort zone in the alien environment of federal politics. It's their "home team..."
Three the Bloc is a social democratic party that stopped Stephen Harper from getting a majority, to protect the Canadian values we share. And everybody knows that Gilles Duceppe is a decent man. Not a scary separatist.
And lastly but most importantly, who gave anyone the right to declare that the representatives of the Quebec people are not equal members of our Canadian Parliament? Or deny federalists the chance to show Quebecers that Canada works when everybody works together.
It's a difficult question because unfortunately anti-Quebec feeling is widespread. But if the Coalition leaders don't have courage to stand up against this hateful nonsense, Harper will always have them where he wants them. The Coalition really will be DOA. And Canada could be torn apart.
My conclusion? The Coalition is not just the best way to govern this country in a time of economic crisis, and the only reason Stephen Harper is cornered and desperate. It's a great way to keep Canada together. And the only way to go.
So I can only urge those who would bury the Coalition baby before it's had a chance to grow, to cool their jets, and stop panicking. And undermining our best chance of bringing down the tyrant we all hate.
Because this baby ain't dead yet.
And you can't kill hope that easily...