Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Looking Back

Brian Topp, an NDP negotiator during the coalition talks last year, has a 6-part series on the Globe's political portal showing a behind-the-scenes look at how the coalition coalesced last year. The first two posts are up (here and here) and make for a fascinating read. Some interesting tid-bits so far:

-From Topp's accounts, the NDP were the key driving force behind the coalition, having broached the idea with the Liberals several times before - the Dippers had a coalition proposal ready to give Dion on election night, had the results warranted it.

-The Liberals appeared receptive to the idea, but internal manoeuvring over who got to be PM seems to have been an early stumbling block.

-Topp himself admits he seriously underestimated the power of the "deal with the separatists" argument.

What I'll really be interested in is the next post in Topp's series, since my view was always that that coalition was a good threat, but the plug should have been pulled once Harper backed down on the voter subsidy issue over the weekend.

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20 Comments:

  • Interesting that mutual self interest took Dion and the NDP down a path of presenting Ignatief with a fait accompli and (1) driving Harper to 46% in the polls (2) anointing Ignatief. Not since Brian rolled the dice has anyone got as much blowback:

    "What Metcalfe was telling us was that Mr. Dion intended to use a coalition accord to 'unresign'... the Liberals had just handed us some serious leverage in these negotiations. The coalition was a do-or-die proposition for their leader. That meant they probably weren’t going to walk away"

    "A bolder, perhaps more effective approach might have been to stop the talks at that moment, and to tell the Liberals that we could not proceed until we knew who the Liberal leader was"

    By Anonymous Michael, at 8:24 PM  

  • I'll take the not so popular side, which just so happens to be the side our constitution and general parliamentary convention is on, and maintain the coalition was and is a good idea.

    To be blunt, those who don't look positively on the coalition or any coalition, hold values that do not correspond to the foundations of our country. And yes that applies to the 50% or so of Canadians who opposed it.

    Does this mean our laws and conventions then need to be changed to accomodate this anti-coalition sentiment? No, what needs to be done is a thorough education of Canadians and the consequences of not allowing coalitions and parliament to function as it should.

    By Blogger thescottross.blogspot.com, at 12:36 AM  

  • It's interesting that he admits to having a coalition proposal waiting on election on day.

    Layton has always denied being interested in a coalition government during the election campaigns, instead always opting for becoming the government. I'm not sure he can play that card anymore and he has to admit being interested in forming a coalition.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 9:22 AM  

  • "Layton has always denied being interested in a coalition government during the election campaigns, instead always opting for becoming the government."

    So did the Liberals. I guess they're going to have to admit to their desire to form a coalition during the next election as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:51 AM  

  • thescottross - yes, it would have been constitutional. And I do think there's a time and place for coalitions. But that time and place would be when you could offer a stable coalition that had some sort of mandate.

    Needing three parties to survive, at a time when the head party was in the midst of a leadership race (with the frontrunner cool to the idea), meant this was not a stable coalition.

    And as much as I like Dion, there's no way you could interpret those election results as any sort of mandate for him to be PM. And he explicitly said he wouldn't enter into a coalition with the NDP during the campaign.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:10 AM  

  • To be blunt, those who don't look positively on the coalition or any coalition, hold values that do not correspond to the foundations of our country.

    I agree. Believing politicians should honour campaign promises is a value that does not correspond to the foundations of our country. LOL!

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:22 AM  

  • Scott Ross is entirely correct.

    It is high-time we Liberals joined forced with the Bloc Quebecois and rule over the great nations of Canada and Quebec.

    By Anonymous Citizens for Ignatieff, at 10:22 AM  

  • Robert Vollman should move to the United States.

    Canada was founded on the principle that it should be broken up. That is why we need the Bloc Quebecois in a ruling coalition with the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff's leadership.

    Stephen Harper was killed too many people with this whole national unity business. Stop the madness!

    By Anonymous I dream of Ignatieff, at 10:53 AM  

  • He's already spinning in the first three paragraphs:

    "On the one hand, the federal Liberals were in worse financial shape than we were, and would have to look at their options again in light of Harper‘s attempt to bankrupt them. Indeed all three opposition parties now had a compelling, concurrent reason to cooperate to rid the country of Mr. Harper."

    I'm going to have to read the rest with a few thousand grains of salt.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 11:30 AM  

  • "Layton has always denied being interested in a coalition government during the election campaigns"

    That's not true at all. Layton has never ruled out a coalition at any time. I defy anyone to find an actual quote from anytime in the last six years where Jack Layton ever categorically ruled out forming a coalition with anyone?

    By Blogger DL, at 11:03 PM  

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  • Mandate? Either you do really like Dion and you're suggesting dinner and a movie, or you're referring to an element of American democracy which has no place in a Canadian parliamentry system.

    Our PM has no mandate, I believe, in any sense of the meaning you're giving it. Authority to govern in Canada can blow like the wind depending on support in the house; whereas I believe you're using "mandate" as some form of authority/legitimacy derived from a popular election.

    I didn't like Dion, but he would have had just of a mandate as Harper if the coalition had formed government.

    By Blogger thescottross.blogspot.com, at 5:34 AM  

  • I didn't like Dion, but he would have had just of a mandate as Harper if the coalition had formed government.

    Would Canadian voters have agreed with that opinion the next time Dion faced them?

    I don't know for sure, and I guess I never will.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:35 AM  

  • We all agree on one thing:

    We all hate Harper.

    We hate Harper because he hates Canada. And because Canada haters run the country, we're starting to hate Canada. And since we are all Canadians, we are starting to hate ourselves.

    How do we get out of this spiral of hate? How do we de-hate ourselves and de-hate Canada?

    Dump Harper. His time is up.

    By Anonymous Grassroots for Ignatieff, at 11:36 AM  

  • Except most of the people who hate Harper hate Ignatieff for the same reasons.

    Iggy had his chance to dispel a bit of that hate with the coalition and he chickened out. That was his Royal Jelly test and he'll never get another one. The sooner the Liberals ditch him and get an electable leader, the better off they'll be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:36 PM  

  • "Would Canadian voters have agreed with that opinion the next time Dion faced them?

    I don't know for sure, and I guess I never will."

    Canadian voters would have based their opinion on what the coalition accomplished, not on how many angels can dance on the pin of how strong of a mandate it theoretically had. Martin and Ignatieff have flushed two opportunities to prove the Liberal party has a vision for governance down the toilet. This seems to be entirely based on an unwillingness to compromise with Canadian social democrats. The result has been that team Red has gotten progressively less votes and seats with each election and team orange have gotten more.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 PM  

  • "I didn't like Dion, but he would have had just of a mandate as Harper if the coalition had formed government."

    That's not the tradition established at Runnymede, which is the only source of legitimacy one can draw on in a Westminster Democracy.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 5:49 PM  

  • Canadians may eventually have to get used to the idea of coalition governments, if only because we appear to be doomed to a succession of minority parliaments for the next several years. Coalitions bring a level of stability to a minority government that would be a welcome change from what we have now. However, what needs to happen for this to be acceptable to Canadians is for a coalition to either be headed up by the party which gained the plurality of seats, or be used to prop up a sitting government which has not resigned. although this sort of thing is no doubt commonplace in European democracies, Canadians just aren't ready to see a coalition that topples a sitting government, no matter how constitutionally valid it may be from a technical standpoint.

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