A Liberal-NDP merger just doesn’t add up

Andrew Coyne on why this is a case where two and two sum to a good deal less than four

A merger just doesn't add up

Chris Wattie/Reuters

At the height of last week’s frenzy of speculation, argumentation, insinuation and accusation over the possibilities of a Liberal-NDP merger, I half expected to see the headline: “Opposition divided over unity.” Not only were the parties no closer to agreeing on a merger than at any time in the past: the suggestion seemed if anything more likely to divide each of the parties in two.

Those who dream of uniting the “progressive” vote under a single party should take heed. The premise that there is a natural anti-Conservative majority just waiting to be consolidated may appear to make arithmetic sense—the Conservatives having obtained just less than 40 per cent of the vote in the last election—but rests upon a misreading of politics, of history, and of human nature. Whether we are talking about the parties themselves, or their support in the electorate at large, this is a case where two and two sum to a good deal less than four.

The voters first. The assumption underlying the merger argument is that the votes of the two parties can simply be added together. This assumes, in turn, not only that the two have more in common than divides them—that their voters really do vote against the Conservatives, rather than for either party—but also that each party’s supporters could be herded obediently into the merger corral. It assumes, in other words, both that voters have no particular loyalty to either party, and that they are so loyal as to remain in the fold even after both have been extinguished.

The reality is rather different. Assuming you could cobble together a merger—more on that below—the resulting mélange would be almost certain to alienate two groups of voters: those on the NDP left, and those on the Liberal right. As the NDP are the more ideologically coherent party, and as they are more likely, as the stronger of the two, to see themselves in the merged party’s reflection, the greater bleeding of support may be expected to occur on the right.

This is the fundamental fallacy of the merger case: the assumption that the Liberals are, like the NDP, a party of the left; that their differences with the NDP are of degree, rather than of kind. But that is not true of many in the party, and it is even less true among the universe of possible Liberal voters, many of whom think of themselves as centrists, even centre-right.

The chief beneficiary of a merger between the Liberals and the NDP, then, is likely to be the Conservatives. This is one of the axioms of political science. Where three parties are consolidated into two, the result is unlikely to be a permanent imbalance in support: rather, the two remaining parties tend to converge on the median voter. So the more probable post-merger scenario would see Conservative support expand toward 50 per cent.

An instructive example is presented by the collapse of the British Liberal Party a century ago. As Liberal support imploded, support for the Labour Party, it is true, grew. But so did Conservative support: from 38 per cent in 1922 to 48 per cent in 1935. The Conservative Party won four of six elections in that period of consolidation, and four of eight through the ensuing 35 years of two-party politics.

All of this, of course, assumes that a merger could even be put into effect. But whatever the reluctance of voters to follow the logic of merger proponents, it would be double that among each party’s rank and file, and twice again as much among party officials. Leave aside the vast doctrinal differences between, say, a Frank McKenna and the NDP. Ideological conflicts are subject to mediation and compromise. Historic hatreds are not.

Political parties, it is often remarked, are like tribes, or gangs, built on blood and battle. They are the accumulated inheritance of ancient loyalties—and ancient enmities. The people who devote their lives to electing Liberals and New Democrats not only have no history of working together, they have a long history of working against each other. Corporate mergers often fail for the same reason.

But doesn’t the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives prove it can be done? Yes—if the project is to put back together a coalition that had already been in existence for 120-odd years. Whatever electoral success the merged entity has enjoyed, moreover, has come at the cost of virtually everything that either party had ever stood for.

Is there no case for a merger, then? Yes, but it’s a rather different one than its proponents intend. That is, a merger might be of some value precisely because it divided the Liberals (and perhaps the NDP) in two. The orphaned right-wing Liberals, instead of joining the Conservatives, might elect to form a new party, with some hope of attracting free-market Tories, disillusioned by their party’s new-found taste for big government and always uneasy at sharing a political bed with the social conservatives. Such an alliance of social liberals and free marketers—call it the Social Market party—might also attract many Green voters.

We should then be left with three or perhaps four parties, from unreconstructed socialists to devout theo-cons, with distinct centre-left and centre-right options in between: surely a more appetizing menu for voters than two barely coherent puddles of mush.




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A Liberal-NDP merger just doesn’t add up

    • Well, thanks for making that decision for us.  I thought it might be an idea to discuss it among ourselves (each of Liberal and NDP) first before coming to that conclusion. 

      I’m less against it than I was a couple of months ago–mostly because of the NDP preamble thing.  But that doesn’t make me for it exactly, either.  But certainly if a merger is ever going to happen, it is going to happen now-ish (like, in the next four years)

      But still, can we talk about a coalition instead?  The other thing is if we had proportional representation the parties Andrew talks about would form naturally and everybody could vote for exactly what they want instead of cobbling together ‘half-good’ parties that already skew the desires of the population before the coalition negotiations even begin.

      • A coalition is dicey at best in my opinion.

        It seems to me that many center-right Ontario Liberals voted Conservative or not at all in the last election precisely because Layton was projected to be the senior partner of any resulting coalition at that point.

        And a more formal arrangement would’ve probably had the same effect, but even more entrenched.

        I have to agree with Coyne. People are assuming that not voting for Harper puts everyone else on the same page, when the political spectrum is considerably wider than that.

        I know a lot of Liberals who would sooner vote CPC than let the NDP anywhere near the levers of power, and after their most recent success, I don’t see too many NDPers willing to accept second billing anymore.

        • There is a middle ground, though: both the NDP and the Liberals can state something along the lines of: “We are running to win government, we intend to have a majority, etc., but in the event we do not, we are willing to talk to the other parties about creating a stable government for Canada.  That might include a coalition, that might include informal arrangements – we can’t say until after the election has happened.  But, regardless, we are going to keep fighting for our values and the values of the members of the electorate that voted for us.”

          Then, after the election, work quickly to implement the alternative vote for parliamentary elections.  No need to merge or to create a pre-election coalition ever again.

      • The days of minority government are over for the time being. So talk of a coalition is simply wishful thinking.
        The Libs under Rae are not going to rebuild. Rae is not going to put into place a viable party and then walk away. So Canadians having experienced the Rae premiership in Ontario will not vote Liberal. Can’t see anybody else on the horizon in the Liberal party that could shake up the electorate.
        As for the NDP they probably will elect Mulcair but to think that they are going to retain the votes in Quebec in the next election is fanciful thinking. People who would elect kids, candidates who do not live in their ridings, nor campaigned were voting for Layton. Their votes will be spread among the parties in the next eleciton.

        However, feel free to discuss.

        • Thanks for your opinion, hollinm.  (You saved yourself there with that last line.)
          Hopefully, Rae WON’T put into place a viable party–that’s our job!  That’s been our problem–the top doing stuff we should be doing.  I’m fairly confident that will be fixed come January or so.  As for the NDP, I’ll let them discuss and choose what they want themselves, since I’m not an NDPer.

        • Mulcair is pretty popular in Quebec, so I wouldn’t just assume that the BQ will suddenly revive and win 35 seats back from the NDP.  Plus, the candidates the NDP has on the ballot next time will be much stronger – even if it is the same people, they will be incumbent MPs with four years of experience in Parliament.  If some are replaced, they will be replaced with much stronger candidates (the sort of people who previously turned down running for the NDP because it seemed a fool’s errand).  

          • You may be right. I guess it will depend on whether the NDP can do anything to satisfy Quebec and its so called “aspirations” over the next four years. There are many things that will come about in the next four years that will either cement the NDP as a choice for Quebecers or not. The decisions on healthcare, support for unions, changes to equalization and of course handouts.
            Lets not forget that the Conservatives have four years to pander to Quebec. In many of these things the feelings will be at odds with the feelings in the rest of Canada. So the NDP could win every seat in Quebec that will not bring them to power. If they do win those seats they will in the process destroy their support in the rest of the country. So the NDP is in a tough position with the passing of Layton. The Libs are not even worth talking about. As long as they have the face of Rae representing them Canadians will discount much of what they have to say.

  1. I have to agree with Mr. Coyne on pretty much everything in this article (for once.)

    I don’t think the NDP & Liberals have had any synergy at the federal level was during the days of Tommy Douglas & Lester B. Pearson.  There’s been overlap between provincial NDP & federal Liberals (Roy Romanow, Bob Rae), but those were relatively centrist NDP governments, which were probably much closer to the Pearson Liberal ideology than to the Douglas NDP.

    Post-Trudeau Liberal governments (IMHO) have moved towards the Progressive Conservatives in ideology and practice, although with less (alleged) corruption.

    Since the current federal NDP have (again, IMHO) the most coherent “progressive” policy package since Pearson, it would make far more sense for them to court centre-left Liberal voters than to to merge and carry the Liberal baggage.

  2. A couple of quibbles with AC’s analysis, although it doesn’t likely much affect his conclusions. Firstly i feel the meeting of like minds scenario of the con merger is not entirely right. It was not a marriage or getting together again of equals; it was more in the way of a shot gun merger, complete with a nasty bit of unforgivable duplicity on the part of one major actor – against the express wishes of his party. In other words the merger worked because the two halfs were no longer equal – it was a takeover. If the two parties had not been of dissimilar sizes there may well have been no merger. AC provides evidence of this by musing about the creation of a new centrist party – i don’t imagine Baird and co would be the ones jumping ship, nor do i imagine they would be welcomed aboard a HMCS centrist.[ I happen to think the idea is a great one if the libs fail to reinvent themselves as a radical party, particularly with the passing of Jack, but it is only a pipedream. I wonder if Mr C would be willing to put some skin in the game to help bring this about if the likelihood arises?]
    IMHO the tory merger only worked because it was NOT a merger of equals, nor was it  entirely amicable. A merger of libs and dipper might have worked when the libs were the guys on top – not now. That ship has sailed sadly. But the chance was there in 2008, it was just bungled by the libs. There is precedent for this with say the coalition like arrangement betwwen the dippers and Trudeau and Pearson gov’t. Again, the libs had to be the senior partners.  I also wonder if you’re not missreading the degree of dislike for Harper’s dogmatism, particularly on the right of the liberals; yes some will defect, but some will likely hold their nose and go with the good guys. Or maybe as you say there will be enough impetus to forge a new party? 
    How about a coaltion AC? Tricky admittedly given Harper has poisioned the well, but one cleverly and transparently sold to the parties and the public could put a crimp in the march of Harperism.  In any case the libs/dippers should make it clear they intend to work together in areas where there is agreement or general consensus. I see no reason to be coy about this, and polls have shown that the public largely thinks so too – it’s just a matter of who should lead such an arrangement.

    • But Coyne is articulating that the Conservative merger was a reunification of a political party that got divorced once upon a time – it wasn;t a merger at all, really, when you look at it from that perspective. A Liberal/NDP merger is not a reunion because they are two separate parties with long and often very nasty histories. Reform emerged out of the ashes of the PC’s. The Canadian Alliance emerged out of the ashes of the Reform party. The CA merged with the old PC’s and voila! You now have a Conservative Party of Canada. There is no such commonality between the NDP and the Liberals and therefore, I think any thought of a merger is doomed.

      • I don’tbelieve that i took huge issue with AC on that point. I merely tried to stress that the reunification was not as smooth or frictionless as is commonly asserted. Nor were the different factions of the party temporarily out of sorts; there were serious differences of opinion - ideaological schisms - there still are; it’s the reason they split in the first place,right. Reunification required one faction of the party to be stronger and larger then the other – hence the takeover. I honestly don’t believe the two factions would have come back together had they been of similar size, strengh etc. I don’t take issue with the contention that the various factions of the CPC have more in common then the LPC/NDP.  That said it can be argued if my argument about one part of a possble merger party needing to be stronger is right, then it is possible that conditions for a merger of the LPC/NDP now exist.As a liberal I’m not at all convinced it would be a good idea for the libs to go into such a negotiation from a weakened position – not unless the goal is the formation of a new party, unlikely given the NDP is doing so well at present. I imagine they’ll try and wait out the libs to see if they further implode. If one is a proponent of merger this could look like another opportunity squandered.

  3. Well it doesn’t add up for Cons, that’s for sure.

    It does, however, add up for Libs and Dippers.

    And what the hell is this??

    “Political parties, it is often remarked, are like tribes, or gangs, built on blood and battle. They are the accumulated inheritance of ancient loyalties—and ancient enmities”

    Your calendar out of whack??

  4. Pretty cogent argument against the idea of a merger. However, don’t tell the left that. They believe and they repeat incessantly that 60% of Canadians did not vote for the Conservatives. As they get more desparate perhaps after the next election the hew and cry for merger will be heard loud and clear.

  5. A merger, at worst, would lead to a reconstruction of the political landscape. It isn’t that difficult to sell Canadians a vision of progressiveness versus ‘all for myself’ option.

  6. So much depends upon how far right this majority government goes. An overreach will consolidate its opposition.

    Historical statistics are useful for historical analysis, but if they were reliable predictors we would have no surprises. A significant expenditure on military buildup, Big Brother intrusion into private life, a growing inequality in wealth distribution, a painful reduction in the safety net, a significant decline in general health and education,  rising costs and falling quality of corporate goods and services … etc etc

    It’s too early to talk about mergers. We should wait to see how this government plays its hand.

    • The thing is… overreach by the Conservatives would consolidate the opposition regardless of whether there was a merger.  At some point, the Conservatives will become unpopular and the electorate will decide to vote for someone else.  It’s happened time and time again in the past.  The Liberals were able for forty years to form government notwithstanding the existence of the NDP.  Given another year or two, the Alliance and PCs might have been able to form government notwithstanding their continued division.  And given a few years, the NDP or Liberals will probably be able to form government after the Conservatives finally do something to piss off enough people who have been voting for them since 2006.  Merger isn’t necessary for that to happen.  It might facilitate it, but it might also make it more difficult.  Personally, I would wait until after the 2015 election at the earliest before talking about merger.  If the Conservatives are still in control, then maybe a merger is needed.  If not, then it wouldn’t have been needed.

      • I read somewhere that the pendulum you speak of has a period of about thirty years.

        Which means we’re due. Patience will be rewarded. 

        The audacity of hope! 

  7. So much of the merger hopes rest on one assumption: The 60% of Canadians who did not vote for Stephen Harpter have such antipathy toward him that they would vote for anybody but him. I really doubt that is true.

    Those who hate the PM may have trouble believing this, but there are probably some voters who are indifferent or neutral toward him, and whose choice to vote for another party was not motivated by hatred but was swayed by a small variable, such as a point in a platform or the performance of one local candidate over another in the campaign. This kind of vote cannot be counted as a solid anti-Harper vote in the future. Especially if the voter is one who might rank his choices as Liberal first; then, if he has to, Conservative; and then, only when hell freezes over, NDP. Such a voter, and I’ve met some myself, could definitely not be counted on as an anti-Harper vote after a Lib-NDP merger.

    So the simple arithmetic of 60% being greater than 40% is not so simple nor will it automatically deliver a non-Conservative government next time around.

    • This doesn’t make a lot of sense. The libs who are most fearful of the NDP have already switched over to Harper – they gave him his majority. I don’t necessarily see a further flood of libs heading over to the conservatives – they’ve already moved. The challenge for the libs is to get them back; for the cons is to stay moderate eough to keep them; for the NDP to appear moderate enough to undermine the libs. Not all of those challenges can be met,something has to give.

      • I’m not talking about people who identify with parties, I’m talking about a vote which could go either Liberal or Conservative, depending on the candidates and circumstances involved. My point is simply that a person who voted against the Conservatives in 2011 might not automatically vote against them in a future election. That’s why it’s not a simple mathematical proposition, as some posters and politicians seem to think.

  8. The NDP, the LIberals, the Conservatives — all of them socialist to varying degrees. They provide an illusion of choice.

  9. Merging hasn’t hurt the parties on the right. A decade ago, there were three parties on the right: the Progressive Conservative Party, the National Alliance Party and Reform Party. Now they are the Conservative Party of Canada and hold a majority in Parliament. The Liberals and the New Democrats should at least consider merging.

  10. Mr. Coyne is correct in the short-term, but possibly not the long term. In the short term, yes, a merger could bleed away blue Liberals, but in the long-term the merged party would probably move to the centre in order to be competitive.

    The real problem with a merger is not on the left-right axis, its on the federalist-decentralist axis. Jack Layton opened up new possibilities for the NDP by embracing decentralization (eg. musing about another Meech, his opposition to the clarity act, or his position on language laws). Those positions are anathema to the Liberals, which have historically been the party of a strong Ottawa. 

    Among the most loyal components of the Liberal party are Anglo Montrealers, poorer eastern provinces, and Ottawa civil servants, all of whom would likely oppose efforts to take power away from the federal government. 

    • When you put it that way there does seem to be a gulf fixed tween libs and dippers.[ at least the Trudeau wing of the party, where i'm still hanging in] That said many libs didn’t have nearly as much difficulty with the concept of Meech as PET – maybe they’ll come around to the NDP position, or perhaps they’ll stake out some new ground? The way i see it that’s the real problem with the libs in Quebec – the legacy of Trudeau, the constitution, clarity act etc. Trouble is how do you abandon those principled positions in order to win new favour in modern Quebec. The answer as far as i’m concerned is, you don’t. It’s simply the price you pay for taking a principled position. There may be some kind of middle way that i’m not aware of, but short of adopting Harper’s view of a decentralized open federalism, i can’t see it. Perhaps it’s to be found in appealing to Quebecers sense of the state  having an important and positive role to play in our lives, one that Harper eschews. Of course enough time would have had to pass for Quebecers to no longer resent the role of the LPC in the province.   

  11. Hear that? It’s the sound of the nail being hit on the head.

  12. Thanks for that, Andrew.  I get so tired of listening to these so-called “progressive” merger proponents who cling to this myth that the 60% or so of the electorate who didn’t vote Conservative last election are essentially some coherent, anti-Harper monolith that can be counted on to vote as a bloc — never mind the considerable problems that would attend even trying to merge the Liberals and the NDP in the first place.

    Many merger proponents seem to think that the single, overarching reason that everyone who didn’t vote Conservative had for casting their ballot was seething hatred for Stephen Harper and the CPC.  Anyone who has actually worked in politics or polling will tell you that real people vote for a zillion different reasons — and they are often reasons that would utterly confound the typical political junkie or partisan (e.g., the candidate reminds voter X of her deceased husband and has a nice smile).

    And as AC rightly says, 2+2 never = 4 in a situation such as this.  Voting behaviour depends on the choices that are put in front of voters, and it shifts as those choices are changed. 

    A LPC-NDP merger is largely the wet dream of left-leaning Liberals (many of whom call themselves “progressive” because they like that word way better than “left wing”) and centrist Dippers.  Frank McKenna and John Manley have a helluva lot more in common with James Moore and Jim Flaherty than they do with Libby Davies.  I find when this fact is pointed out to left-leaning Liberals, many of them say incredibly nasty things about the likes of Paul Martin, John Manley et al. (e.g., “they’re not real Liberals anyway), betraying a rather shocking ignorance at the true history and nature of this very big-tent party.

    • I should add that there’s another significant constituency pushing for a merger within the LPC and the NDP, namely the predominantly Macchiavellian types within each party, for whom the attainment of power is the overarching goal, trumping all other considerations.  E.g., Brian Topp among the Dippers, Jean Chretien among the Liberals.  But for a lot of these types, their view of the situation is notably self-serving and consists of the kind of thinking that these people would never want to be broadcast publicly — these Liberals see the NDP as this bothersome inconvenience that gets in their way during elections — if only they could get rid of the NDP, all that candy would be theirs.  Similarly, these Dippers view the Liberals as phony, fair-weather progressives.  But what particularly strikes me is how vapid and generalized Chretien’s public statements regarding a merger are — he doesn’t address any of the substantive issues of the sort raised by Andrew.  It’s the usual shallow dreck about “progressive” this and that, with zero attention paid to the various tough nuts that would have to be cracked, such as the NDP’s joined-at-the-hip relationship with organized labour and often overt hostility to private enterprise.

  13. DOMINION OF CANADA?: “The Harper government is operating very much like a regime
    mounting an ideological crusade to rebrand the country” http://canuckreport.ca

  14. I think its important to have the third option, so I do not want the NDP and Liberals to merge. Besides, I think any merger would betray the electorate who voted NDP for certain values just as others voted Liberal. 

    What I propose should happen is a merger between the Liberals and the Green Party. The gap between these two parties is less than the gap between the NDP and Liberals. After the merger, they could be called the Red Green Party! Turf Bob Rae and replace him with Steve Smith. Now that would be a party people would for.

    • Hah, the tools at the states disposal to resolve any dispute or issue would no longer consist of the standard plethora of political mechanisms as much as it would consist of Duct tape.  Trade Dispute with China? Get the Duct Tape. Federal Deficit? you guessed it, Duct Tape! lol, i have to admit, your comment made my day! Cheers

  15. Regarding: “An instructive example is presented by the collapse of the British Liberal Party a century ago. As Liberal support imploded, support for the Labour Party, it is true, grew. But so did Conservative support: from 38 per cent in 1922 to 48 per cent in 1935. The Conservative Party won four of six elections in that period of consolidation, and four of eight through the ensuing 35 years of two-party politics.”
    Um, wouldn’t the historical experience of the British Liberal Party weigh *in favour* of a merger between the NDP and Grits?  The British Liberal Party withered while Labour grew, and the Tories benefited.  Had the Liberals merged with Labour, things might have been quite different…

  16. I
    think Mr. Coyne should simply join the Liberal Party and try to shape
    it into what he envisions in this article. Progressives should be
    working to remake the NDP into Canada’s progressive party.As
    the Green Party has become the Elizabeth May party, a lot of the
    merger chatter has been rising from the Green camp. I now consider
    myself a former Green, even though I voted for them in the last
    election. I live in Pat Martin’s riding, and even though I give him
    props for his progressive bravado, I cannot agree with his merger
    talk – he wants to merge the NDP with a party to their right, when
    the merger support is coming from his left flank. Does not
    compute.We saw all the “soft” Green support slip
    away in the last election. As they generally favour a progressive
    coalition/merger, I see this as a ripe opportunity to create a party
    out of the NDP that they and progressive Liberals can support. I say
    let Mr. Coyne and his social progressives/free market conservatives
    bleed into the Liberals. This would give room for Maxime Bernier and
    his conservative libertarian wing room to grow in the Conservative
    Party, as demographics tell us it should, in order to give them a
    real voice. This would give us a progressive party, a centre-right
    Liberal party, and a Conservative grab bag of Tea Party crazies,
    right-wing libertarians and the business class. Let the best vision
    win.One last note: we progressives have to stop trying to
    come up with some magical formula that will win us continuous power
    in the form of endless majority governments. While the polls say that
    people with progressive leanings have traditionally made up a
    majority of the electorate, many of these people do not vote and the
    one thing I know for sure about demographics is that they change. A
    competitive, sustainable and stable Canada needs a progressive party
    that is about change – capable of adapting to what this increasingly
    dangerous and unstable world can throw at our country. We need to do
    this without forsaking the social and environmental reasons why we’re
    progressive, or the centre-right will do it for us. Doing this in a
    way that is democratic and representative of the entirety of the
    responsible section of the Canadian political spectrum should be one
    of our first goals. Right after we build our tent based on economic,
    social and environmental sanity.

  17. I think Mr. Coyne should simply join the Liberal Party and try to shape it into what he envisions in this article. Progressives should be working to remake the NDP into Canada’s progressive party.

    As the Green Party has become the Elizabeth May party, a lot of the merger chatter has been rising from the Green camp. I now consider myself a former Green, even though I voted for them in the last election. I live in Pat Martin’s riding, and even though I give him props for his progressive bravado, I cannot agree with his merger talk – he wants to merge the NDP with a party to their right, when the merger support is coming from his left flank. Does not compute.

    We saw all the “soft” Green support slip away in the last election. As they generally favour a progressive coalition/merger, I see this as a ripe opportunity to create a party out of the NDP that they and progressive Liberals can support. I say let Mr. Coyne and his social progressives/free market conservatives bleed into the Liberals. This would give room for Maxime Bernier and his conservative libertarian wing room to grow in the Conservative Party, as demographics tell us it should, in order to give them a real voice. This would give us a progressive party, a centre-right Liberal party, and a Conservative grab bag of Tea Party crazies, right-wing libertarians and the business class. Let the best vision win.

    One last note: we progressives have to stop trying to come up with some magical formula that will win us continuous power in the form of endless majority governments. While the polls say that people with progressive leanings have traditionally made up a majority of the electorate, many of these people do not vote and the one thing I know for sure about demographics is that they change. A competitive, sustainable and stable Canada needs a progressive party that is about change – capable of adapting to what this increasingly dangerous and unstable world can throw at our country. We need to do this without forsaking the social and environmental reasons why we’re progressive, or the centre-right will do it for us. Doing this in a way that is democratic and representative of the entirety of the responsible section of the Canadian political spectrum should be one of our first goals. Right after we build our tent based on economic, social and environmental sanity.

    • Sorry for the double post. Apparently I’ve been away from technology for a little too long. I would say I’m rusty, but the analogy no longer seems current. I’m outdated?

  18. The evidence doesn’t support your argument, Andrew. The key polls to me are all the ones that asked that majority of voters (61%) who voted against Harper (Lib, NDP, Bloc, Green) who their second choice was. Statistically speaking, nobody’s second choice was the Conservatives. In fact, nobody’s third choice was Conservative. That info tends to suggest the 61+% of Canadians who reject Harper, do so fairly unitedly.

    That said, it would still be a more optimal solution to reform our electoral system to one that is actually representative of voters wishes. Like New Zealand’s. Then the merger would be unnecessary.
     

    • It’s like you didn’t even read Coyne’s article.  “We hate Harper” is not a substitute for a coherent, viable political movement.  Stephen Harper is not going to be around forever.

      Secondly, those polls you cite deal with the existing choices in front of Canadian voters, i.e., the choices that they face now with the parties that currently exist, and what these people SAY they would do in terms of second choices.  That doesn’t tell us what these same people WOULD ACTUALLY DO if they had a set of different choices in front of them — which is what a merger would present to these people.

      Thirdly, consider a Green voter whose stated second choice is Liberal.  That could be someone who, while quite concerned about environmental issues, is also free-market oriented and who thinks the NDP consists of a bunch of union-dominated hacks who are congenitally hostile to business and free enterprise.  To think that such a person would automatically and inevitably vote for a merged NDP-Liberal party, rather than a Conservative Party which has been newly pollinated with Martin-Manley-McKenna Liberals, is the epitome of wishful thinking.

  19. The only reason for this merger talk is because the Liberals did poorly in the federal election.  One does not hear of any merger proposals between the Ontario Liberals and the NDP.  Why?  Because the provincial Liberals are doing relatively well.

    On the federal level, if the Liberals and the NDP were to merge, some of the former supporters may choose to form a new right-of-centre New Liberal Party or a left-of-centre New New Democratic Party.

  20. “Those of you who are pro-merge are just dumb young people who don’t understand the history of Canadian politics, and that obviously because they have been opposed in the past the NDP and Liberals can NEVER MERGE, EVER. History can obviously never change–its better that politicians and I can jerk-off to ourselves in the mirror at night knowing we didn’t compromise our ‘political integrity’ while continuing to encourage young people not to even bother voting at all through articles like this.”

    - Thanks Andrew Coyne.

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