Friday, September 11, 2009

Michael Ignatieff and the Coalition Trap

So Michael Ignatieff has finally decided to bury the Coalition he killed.

Even though Stephen Harper could have been made to look like a liar and a hypocrite.

Even though eight months ago polls showed the idea wasn't as unpopular as it has been portrayed.

A Nanos Research survey revealed that 49 per cent of Canadians would rather go to the polls, compared to 42 per cent who believe a Liberal/NDP coalition — backed by the Bloc Québécois — should be given a chance to govern in the event the minority government falls. Ten per cent of those surveyed were unsure.

And most of the opposition came from people out West who will NEVER vote for Ignatieff.

Even though Ignatieff could have turned this ridiculous Coalition phobia into a teachable moment.

With an election campaign not even underway yet, there was probably a teachable moment here......Instead, Ignatieff has just reinforced the view that there's something wrong with the idea of a coalition and that voters who reacted badly to something that was a shock when it happened and that was misrepresented by a lot of the voices who were shouting at them at the time, were right to do so.

But of course it's now too late for any of that, so what I thought I would do tonight is explain why the Liberal cremation of the Coalition may come back to BURN them.

To do that I have to explain what the Conservatives need to happen if they are going to win a majority.

(1) They need to drive as many votes in Quebec to the Bloc, so Ignatieff can't win any new seats. That's why they put out ads accusing Bloc leaders of being pedophiles. That's why they are going after the Coalition in a province where the idea is really popular. Because they knew that if they could get Iggy to bury that idea it could only make him LESS popular. Duh.

(2) They need to stir-up anti-Quebec feeling in English Canada by taking on the "separatists" which is just a code name for Quebecers. It worked for them last time when it provoked the greatest and vilest wave of anti-French bigotry I have ever seen. And they're hoping it will work again. Ignatieff could have confronted this dangerous bigotry...and earned massive brownie points in Quebec. But he chose not to.

(3) They need to alienate NDP supporters who might be tempted to vote for the Liberals just this time. Because with the Greens polling around ten percent the more they can drive up the NDP vote the greater the chance of a three-way split that can give the Cons even more seats.

That's of course when the Liberals aren't firming up the NDP vote themselves....

One.Two.Three. Mission accomplished. Congratulations Mr Ignatieff.

You know in my most gloomy moments I sometimes think that progressives in this country need to experience a Harper majority to give us the jolt of reality we need. So we finally understand what needs to be done to drive these alien RepubliCons from power. FOREVER.

It's going to be a hard lesson. There won't be much left our country by the time we finally understand why a fragmented opposition will always be at a disadvantage when faced with a united right.

But at least there'll be a small consolation.

Out of the ruins and the rubble of this diminished land should crawl something that looks like INTELLIGENCE. Because right now its gone missing.The Coalition is still a beautiful thing.

But Ignatieff is an IDIOT...


West End Bob said...

But Ignatieff is an IDIOT

Well said, Simon.

Well said . . . .

CK said...

I liked the coalition idea of last year. I wish it could have happened...

I guess Iggy did the only thing he could do under the circumstances but it doesn't seem that he has ruled it out neither...probably only use as last resort sort of thing.

That said, I think he does realize he will have to wheel & deal with the Bloc & NDP to have a snowball's chance in hell. I forget which paper, but the author suggested one such example: that on the day Harper passes that home reno tax credit bill, Iggy will have the NDP & the Bloc (which Duceppe was for anyway) vote with the bill while the Liberals stay home. Stuff like that.

I agree, Iggy is an idiot & once again, not PM material, but he's all we got for now; better or worse. Hopefully, he will play ball with the Bloc & NDP. Looking back in history, Trudeau made a minority gov't work by playing nicely with the NDP & in the next election, got a majority. Hopefully, Iggy can learn from this.

Inspite of Iggy not being suitable, he is still the lesser of the 2 evils. Accuse him as we may of being 'Americanized' but Harper is the one salivating over running Canada GOP style.

My husband found a longer version of the closed door video, but he left it at the radio station where he works. I will post to my blog when he gets it for me.

susansmith said...

no, iggy and the liberals is not all we got. That to me is stupid. He is not progressive. Sorry, but that is the problem. Waking up and realizing that is the beginning.
That said Simon, super post.
In my mind's eye, Iggy is as bad as Harper, in that he is a warmonger, an imperialist who didn't give a rats ass about Palestinians, and is all for the tarsands.
Yes, we can do better than either Harper or Iggy.

Scott in Montreal said...

geez, Simon, I think you're being a little harsh. Let me look at your three points here.

1) I don't think this hurts the Liberals at all. In fact I think the opposite is true. Duceppe was only part of the agreement in the sense of agreeing not to bring down the Liberal/NDP coalition for 18 months. Your argument only makes sense if the BQ would become a governing coalition partner. I think Quebeckers know the difference (french news media not as puerile; assumes a high level of political astuteness of their audience).

2) On this point, I think you're entirely correct. I also think a whole lot of sane Ontario voters are well aware of the unity crisis Harper is stoking, have little reason to vote for him anyway, and will run fast to Iggy like scared sheep once they realize the Cons will be down to a seat or two in Quebec and only the Libs among the federalist parties have a sizable amount of support there. This is the Chretien strategy at work. Hang on to all or most of the seats out west and he may even be looking at a Liberal majority if it all works out.

3) You're thinking primarily of the hardcore NDP and Green supporters I think, and they weren't going anywhere else anyway. However soft NDP and Green support tends to go Liberal if they think that's the only option to remove the dreaded horror story that is the Conservatives. In other words, ruling out a coalition is good hardball tactics on Iggy's part, assuming he can rally all that soft support to his side as the only way to defeat Harper.

My assumptions may all unravel just as easily. But let's keep in mind the only thing Iggy is trying to do is remove a huge Conservative talking point that most of the media has been acting as torch-bearer for. Even in an outcome that would favour such a deal, Mickael and Jack and Gilles can all work out gentlemen's agreements without having to have a formal coalition.

Simon said...

hi West End Bob...after all my flawless reasoning you had to focus on my conclusion... :)
Look I know Ignatieff is an intelligent guy but it frustrates me to see him put down an idea that in the end is the only one that can save us ALL from these horrible Cons...

Simon said...

Hi I explained to West End Bob this post was written in a moment of anger and frustration.
I do wish Ignatieff well because as annoying as he sometimes can be he is still infinitely better than Harper and his Cons.
And even he will learn that progressives will have to cooperate with each other if we want to build a better Canada.
And I'll have to learn to be a little less impatient... :)

Simon said...

hi Jan...look as I've said before I find Ignatieff a little too right-wing for my liking.
His support for the tar sands, his position on Afghanistan, and his handling of the Coalition make me shake my head and wonder what he's thinking.
But that said NOTHING but NOTHING could be as bad as Stephen Harper...

Simon said...

Hi Scott...yes I think maybe I was a bit harsh. That'll teach me to write anything after crawling out from under the rubble of my week... :)

However to deal with you points...

(1) Maybe it won't hurt him in Quebec but it sure won't help him. His position on the tar sands doesn't, and although the Bloc wasn't officially part of the Coalition agreement a lot of Quebecers support the Coalition idea, and being excluded from any role in it I think has disappointed them. I honestly believ that Ignatieff had a good chance in Quebec because Quebecers realize that only he can defeat Harper. But after this I fear they may retreat to the security blanket of the Bloc. Which is what harper wants since he has given up on the province.

(2)This is the part that bothers me the most. As far as I am aware this is the first time a Prime Minister has tried to play English Canada against Quebec and it's criminally irresponsible.
All you have to do is read some of the comments in the Globe...if you've got a strong stomach... and you can see how deep is the well of bigotry.
The MSM should have called him on that one, but so far they haven't because he's careful to make it sound like he's just targeting the "separatists" but they should realize that's just a code name for Quebecers and denounce him accordingly/

(3) What you say is true...when faced with the prospect of a Con majority I'm sure some of that soft NDP support may go to the Liberals.
But it really doesn't make sense for Liberal supporters to attack the NDP in such a partisan manner because it sure is no way to make friends.
My view is that the progressive parties should just tell me why they are the BEST party to vote for, and concentrate all attacks on the Cons. Not just because the Liberals and the NDP will almost certainly have to work together. But also because when progressives are cooperating their overall message tends to be stronger and less of a cacophony that just confuses voters.

And finally sooner or later we're going to have to create Coalitions, and by failing to stand up and defend the idea we're only hurting ourselves and playing into the hands of the Cons.

Anyway it's going to be interesting and I for one promise to try to mind my partisan manners... :)