Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why the Coalition is the Only Rational Choice

Was it the magic moment when the centre-left finally united to say YES WE CAN ? Or just a ghostly mirage frozen in a time of hope? Is the Coalition for Change the weapon that will bludgeon Stephen Harper out of power?

Or is it, as Steve V from Far and Wide seems to think, a monstrous mutant creature whose deadly embrace is threatening to drag us a ALL...especially the New/Nouveau Liberal Party.... into The Abyss? *Shudder*

I think it's important to separate personal want from rational thought. If confronted with clear evidence that rejects a concept, it is far more astute to incorporate that knowledge and react accordingly, rather than to pretend it doesn't exist or put one's faith in the unlikely possibility of seismic change.

In other words run for your lives !!!!!!!

Now I have a lot of respect for Steve. No blogger on our side spends more time poring over polls, like the ancient soothsayers used to rummage through goat guts. But I'm afraid to say that this time he's dead wrong.

The brutal political reality is that Coalition for Change is not only the best and the quickest way to end Stephen Harper's foul Con regime, whose ideological straitjacket and dirty political games are leading us to disaster in a time of crisis.

It's the ONLY way to do that without an election, that the progressive parties can't afford, and neither can the country.

Firstly forget about polls like this one. That frame their questions this way:

"....because of the severe economic situation the country faces and the fact the Liberals and NDP have entered into an 'unholy' deal with the Bloc separatists."

They just play to the barrage of misleading Con radio ads that panicked some Canadians into believing the Evil Separatists were staging a coup d'etat. Or that it was a recipe for the break up of Canada.

The Coalition wasn't able to counter that Con propaganda then, now it can. The three leaders can face the cameras together, explain the role of the Bloc, and tell Canadians in a calm reasoned manner why they alone can offer the kind of stable government the country need in a time of crisis.

And besides times change, recessions deepen. Harper will present his budget a week after Obama becomes President. The celebration of change will be in the air. If Ignatieff's polls can rise. So can the Coalitions. If all three leaders get out there and sell the Coalition effectively...... instead of running away from it.

Secondly, and most importantly, if the government should fall over the budget, it is almost certain that the Governor General will offer the Coalition a chance to form a government. And for her polls don't count. And neither does what's in the budget.

Her only duty is to determine whether the government enjoys the confidence of the house, and then decide whether to allow an election...or call on another political formation that can form a STABLE government.

Since Parliament has only sat for TWO weeks, and an election so soon would only mean more instability in a time of crisis, and only the Coalition can offer the stability of a government that cannot be defeated from one day to another like the Cons can, her choice will be obvious.

Even if she hasn't read Paul Wells.

The whole point of the fall election, we were told, was to give Harper some “open water” to govern without having to worry the opposition would do anything nasty, such as opposing him. The whole point. Certainty vs. chaos. Steady hand vs. the deluge. The voters granted him, for the second time, the awesome gift of power; he used it to steer a straight line away from open water into chaos and deluge, like some mad Ahab of parliamentary mischief.

Harper knows that he stands to lose everything. She told him. That's why he is trying to drive a wedge into the Coalition by luring Ignatieff into holding separate talks. So he can divide and conquer. Or argue that no serious alternative exists because one leader says one thing and another says another.

That's why he is trying to inflame sentiments in the West with his absurd Senate proposal so he can claim that removing him from office would trigger a national unity crisis.

If the Governor General stands up to him, as I believe she signalled she will, Harper's arguments will fall on deaf ears.

But for that to happen the Coalition must stay united and be prepared to govern, because it will only get ONE chance.

If the Harper government's budget is approved, the Governor General will recognize that it has the confidence of the House. And next time the government is defeated she will have no choice but to allow Harper to call an election. And he could call one ANYTIME he wants. i.e. sooner rather than later. Because let's never forget that for Great Ahab Leader the Liberal Party is his great white whale.

And if the opposition parties don't have the money to properly contest that election, the only alternative would be to let Harper govern like he had a majority. Again. And look more and more impotent. Again. Just like Dion did. Is THAT what we want?

And even in the worst case scenario, and the Governor General allowed Harper to call an election the first time, a strong Coalition would facilitate a strategic voting plan that could defeat the Cons in riding after riding. And help save money by not having to run candidates in some ridings, and backing a sure winner.

Oh I know that there are some Liberals that dream of the good old days. And believe that the arrival of Michael Ignatieff will change everything and that they can do it all by themselves. But in an increasingly balkanized country, with a fragmented left, and a Bloc and an NDP who stand to gain from the betrayal of the Coalition, how realistic is that?

We would probably end up with the same kind of Parliament we have now. And then what? And where would Ignatieff be? When if he became Prime Minister of a Coalition government, he would have a chance to show his stuff, reap the political benefits, and choose when to call an election, AFTER his party has rebuilt itself.

Never mind the hope that a coalition would bring to a country that needs it so badly. For all the above rational reasons. The Coalition still is the best and quickest way of getting rid of Stephen Harper's crazy and dangerous ideological government that is leading us all to disaster.

We need to seize the moment, present a united front, and act rationally and ruthlessly to drive these wretched Cons from power.

And whether we believe it's just a bargaining chip, or the path to a better future. At this critical time in Canadian history, everyone needs to be out there selling the Coalition.

Instead of running away from it...


Steve V said...

Just to be clear, I'm personally in favor of a coalition, and I think the agreement was a great compromise that could work. Part of me still hopes it could happen, but I can't entertain it, so long as the public is largely opposed. It isn't just the polls, it's the media dismissal, the anecedotal evidence, surveying any form of feedback I can find.

Unfortunately selling the coalition is harder than a few simple buzzwords, a luxury our opposition enjoys. Had we seen a more credible "coming out party", with a credible leader, then maybe we could have framed this debate differently. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, in many respects a disaster, so we live with the consequence.

I hope I'm wrong, getting rid of Harper is my primary consideration, so nothing would make me happier.

Anonymous said...

There is one big problem..they would want the government to fall right away, but the Country cannot afford an election, and the people don't know enough of Ignatieff yet...some still think that Dion is still the Leader of the Liberal Party

susansmith said...

excellent post Simon ~ right on.

susansmith said...

Anon, we are not going to an election because the GG gets to determine if there will be an election. Since we have had 7 elections in 10 years, and we just had one in October, she will consult with the opposition party to see if they have the "confidence of the House." Since the libs, NDP have formed a coalition and the Bloc has said they will support this alliance for 18 months, we don't have to go to election.

Jennifer Smith said...

There are two factors that will make the end of January fundamentally different from when the Coalition accord was first signed.

1) The 'fiscal update' that first sparked the coalition was quite obviously partisan, inadequate and unacceptable. The budget that the Conservatives in January will present will, in all likelihood, be perfectly reasonable in the eyes of the average Canadian, with all the broad strokes that the opposition parties demand. Harper is stupid, but he's not THAT stupid.

2) If the GG had been approached two weeks ago with a defeated government and a coalition option, she would probably have gone for it. If she is approached at the end of January, even though no time has passed in Parliamentary time, it's still an extra month and a half since the last election, at which point the unacceptably short period of time becomes visibly more acceptable. And by her acceptance of Harper's request for prorogation, I think she has signalled her reluctance to do anything that might be perceived as unconventional.

I will agree on one point - we need to spend this time explaining and selling the idea of a coalition government to the public. Because if Harper stops seeing it as a credible threat, he will simply continue screwing over the opposition at every available opportunity.

susansmith said...

Jennifer suggests that there is a large difference between 2 wks and 6 wks, and that the GG would be more inclined to go to election rather than go to the opposition to see if they have the support of the House to provide stable government. I respectfully disagree and prefer to listen to credible parliamentarians who reside in our universities, who have suggested otherwise.

I also disagree with the idea of just "using the coalition threat" to keep Harper in line, as that only has a small window of relevance, such as now, and will end once the liberals support the Harper conservatives budget confidence motion at the end of January.
Once Libs do that, that coalition agreement will be dead - libs will be on their own, well not really, they will be Harper's back up band. And when Harper comes back with those "wonderful policy ideas" he removed before, the libs will be holding the bag.
And the answer to the excuse that they spin will be from your coalition partner, "you had a choice sir." - checkmate.

Playing both sides of the street is just cheap politics.

susansmith said...

Wanted to post this wonderful insight from a poster at in reference to polls and their relevance for the coalition governing.
This is what melovesproles said today
I agree with that, the polls don't matter. Nothing stopped Harper from taking the turncoat Emerson and putting him in Cabinet when polls showed people thought it was a joke. If the Coalition takes power, it will be judged by how it governs, not how it came to be. No one wants an election right now, unless Harper radically changes his approach, I think the legitimacy of kicking him out is very sound.

I remember those polls when Harper put Emerson in Cabinet and in his govt - Canadians were affronted, public opinion was bad and very negative. But at the end of the day, Emerson was eventually accepted and considered one of the Conservatives bright lights. Obviously Harper ignored the potential public opinion and just forged ahead - something the opposition should consider and take a page out of the conservative "play book."

Simon said...

Hi Steve...I still think that the polls can be turned around if the Coalition leaders sold its merits properly. The sight of Ignatieff, Layton and Duceppe would make a pretty impressive forward line.
But the other thing I wanted to point out is that the showdown in January, and a coalition government is the only way to avoid an election in the next few months. Because you can be sure Stephen Harper will introduce some bill that the opposition will be forced to vote against. And there is nothing he would like more than to dig an even bigger hole for the Liberal Party before Ignatieff is even confirmed. The Liberals may think they can string him along until they rebuild, but they won't be able to. And although Ignatieff is a huge improvement over Dion, his personal popularity may not be enough to win him many more seats.
The way I see the Coalition isn't just the best way to get rid of's matter of survival.

Simon said...

hi anonymous...what I'm saying is that they don't need an election to take power. And since Ignatieff has already made a couple of televised appearances I think everybody knows who is the new leader of the Liberal Party...

Simon said...

Hi Jan....thanks...I must admit it dismays me to see how a coalition that is the only reason Harper was forced to back down can be so easily discarded or put on the shelf. And how gullible Canadians seem to be to the Big Lies pouring out of the PMO.
To be so passive at a time like this, with a government like the Cons, is to court disaster.
When sooner or later the left-wing parties will understand that a coalition is necessary,so they might as well educate and prepare the public for it now...

Simon said...

Hi Jennifer....I agree that Harper may make the budget palatable so he can avoid a confidence vote and the possibility of the Coalition being asked to form a government.
But as soon as that is over with, as I told Steve, it will only be a matter of weeks before he goes for an election, to cripple and bankrupt the Liberal Party before Ignatieff is even confirmed.
Secondly I believe you're wrong about the GG for some of the reasons you pointed out on your own blog.The Governor General had to grant Stephen Harper a prorogue because as far as she knew he enjoyed the confidence of the House...since his Throne Speech was approved. Just like she had every reason to ask Harper to show her when Parliament resumes that he still enjoys that confidence.
And since Parliament has only sat for TWO weeks....the ONLY time frame that counts...and an election would mean political instability, while a coalition government wouldn't she will offer it a chance to form a government. Not to accept that chance I believe will be one of the gravest mistakes in Canadian history.
So yes I agree with your last point, if we are to be ready for that eventuality we need to sell the coalition to the public...

Simon said...

Hi Jan...yes that's a very good point. As soon as the Coalition is installed, and presuming the preparatory work has been done, I think Canadians could warm up very quickly to the idea of a different, more consensual, and Canadian way to govern in a time of crisis.
And besides does ANYBODY in the country really believe that Harper can change his stripes.
The man is a maniac and he deserves to be booted out. Period.

Unknown said...

"That's why he is trying to inflame sentiments in the West with his absurd Senate proposal so he can claim that removing him from office would trigger a national unity crisis."

Trust me, the hatred for the liberals in the West is much, much stronger than that. The only reason that Alberta Separation is on the back burner is because Harper is in government. If he lost in a general election, there would be grumbling. The coalition seizing power alone (plus if they do something stupid like a green house gas cap and trade system) would cause the outrage from Alberta/Saskatchewan to be deafening. It would prove in the minds of a lot of Westerners that Confederation doesn't work - that the interests of the West will always be ignored by the East. After all, the Coalition has nothing to offer the West (Unemployment in Alberta/Saskatchewan fell in November) - We don't need any bailouts, nor do we need any economic stimulation (in fact, look at the G&M at all of the lumber/mining industry officials that are saying they don't want a bailout).

"Governor General will offer the Coalition a chance to form a government. And for her polls don't count."

All of this is very uncharted waters, so I don't think anybody can say with any certainty what the GG will do or not do. The last time the GG did not do what the PM asked was in 1926, and it caused such an uproar that the entire role of the GG changed.

In a democracy it is much easier to demonize someone who even appears to usurps the will of the people.. then one who causes too many elections.