A price must be paid—but by whom?

Andrew Coyne decides his ballot question, and who he will vote for

A price must  be paid—but  by whom?

Photograph by Cole Garside

Voting is a kind of jury duty, and like the jury system, derives much of its strength from the participants’ lack of specialized knowledge of the subject. A specialist can become jaded, or obsessed with finer points; the public has the benefit of distance. My own experience as a political writer confirms this. I will frequently get exercised about this or that controversy, and wonder why the public is not of the same mind. But the public is called upon to judge not only this controversy, but a great number of issues of varying weights, and in the fullness of time, as that particular issue takes its place among the others, it often does not seem quite as all-important to the public as it had earlier seemed to me. And most of the time the public is right.

To vote is to distill a complex array of different, possibly conflicting considerations into one: the parties, the leaders, the local candidates, plus whatever issues are pertinent to you, and the parties’ positions on each. Which makes that perennial journalistic search for the “ballot-box question” such a preposterous enterprise. Every single voter will have his own ballot-box question, or questions. I cannot tell you what yours is, or should be. I can only tell you mine.

For me there are two issues of overwhelming importance in this election. The first is the economy, not only in its own right but for what it means for our ability to finance the social programs we have created for ourselves. The second is the alarming state of our democracy: the decaying of Parliament’s ability to hold governments to account, and the decline, not unrelated, in Parliament’s own accountability to the people.

I can eliminate two options off the top. While both the NDP and the Greens offer appealing proposals for democratic reform, I can’t bring myself to vote for either. It isn’t only their policies—the enormous increases in spending and taxes, the ill-judged market interventions—but their personnel. Simply put, neither party is ready for government.

So the choice for me is between the Conservatives and the Liberals. And as I have wrestled with it, the ballot question that has occurred to me is this: would the Liberals do more harm to the economy than the Conservatives would do to democracy? Or perhaps: would the Liberals harm the economy more than the Conservatives would? Would re-electing the Conservatives do greater harm to our democracy than electing the Liberals? And: which concern should weigh more heavily in the balance?

I give the nod to the Conservatives on the economy, though not by a wide margin. I think their instincts are generally sounder. But their readiness to play politics keeps getting in the way. So while they have a good record in some areas—cutting corporate taxes, opening trade talks with Europe and India, abolishing tariffs on intermediate goods and introducing tax-free savings accounts among them, as well as their deft handling of the banking crisis—it has to be balanced against the politically driven plunge into deficit, the bailout of the auto industry, the cuts in GST rather than income taxes, and an approach to foreign investment that can only be described as whimsical.

The same caution applies to their platform. I don’t doubt they can cut $4 billion out of annual program spending by 2015, without harm to needed services; my only concern is whether they will. Their unwillingness to spell out what they would cut does nothing to allay that concern. More positively, they do seem to have nailed their colours to cutting corporate tax rates. But how much more could both personal and corporate rates be cut if they did not persist in doling out tax credits and subsidies to favoured constituencies?

The Liberal platform, on the other hand, is more consistent, at least in economic policy terms: it is wrong-headed in every respect—higher spending, higher taxing, more meddlesome generally. Its saving grace is that it is only half-heartedly so. The Liberals would raise corporate taxes, but more for show than anything else: lifting rates back to the 18 per cent they were last year is the wrong way to go, but hardly the apocalypse. They aren’t going to get anything like the $6 billion in revenue they claim from these, but neither do they need it. The $5.5 billion in extra spending they propose is barely two per cent of program spending, and would not on its own threaten the country’s fiscal position.

And that’s what it would take to really worry about what the Liberals would do to the economy in the short term. When it comes to taxes or regulations, it takes a long time for even the stupidest government policy—for example, the Liberals’ proposal to shower selected “Canadian Champion Sectors” with subsidies—to really harm the economy. It’s macroeconomic policy that can really run you onto the rocks: running massive deficits, or letting inflation get out of hand. Call me naive, but I do not think the Liberals would do either—even in combination with the NDP. If anything, I suspect they would be at pains to prove their fiscal-conservative credentials, for fear of financial markets’ wrath.

Still, there are differences in long-term direction between the two platforms that are worth considering. Though neither party seems inclined in the short term to brake the torrid growth in health care spending, the broad brush of Tory policy is better suited to spurring the long-term productivity growth that alone can pay for it. And while the Tories’ regulation-heavy approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is in principle more costly, per megatonne, than the Liberals’ cap and trade scheme, the overall costs are likely to be less: because the Liberals are likely to bungle their plan, and because the Tories are unlikely to pursue theirs. Sensible policy will await the return of a carbon tax to political respectability.

So that’s the economy. And on democracy? Here the choice is starker—not because I invest any great hopes in the Liberals, but because the Tory record is so dreadful. To be sure, they introduced the Accountability Act on taking office: incomplete, loophole filled, but progress nonetheless. And they have made fitful efforts to reform the Senate, when not packing it with their own strategists, fundraisers and toadies.

But the long train of offences against democratic and parliamentary principle—from proroguing Parliament, twice, to evade Parliament’s reach; to withholding documents essential to parliamentary oversight, even in defiance of Parliament’s explicit demands; to intimidating parliamentary officers and politicizing the bureaucracy; to such breaches of trust as the Emerson and Fortier appointments, the taxation of income trusts, and the evisceration of their own law on fixed election dates—are simply unforgivable.

Add to that the coarse, vicious brand of politics, the mindless partisanship for which the Tories have become known: equal parts terrorizing their own MPs and demonizing their opponents. And add to that the extreme centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s Office, the trivialization of even cabinet posts as sources of independent authority, never mind the barracking of committees . . . Enough.

But much of this went on when the Liberals were in office, too, didn’t it? Yes. That’s just the point. To compare the Harper Tories to the Chrétien Liberals, and to the Mulroney Tories before them, and to the Trudeau Liberals before them, is hardly to excuse them: quite the opposite. The decline of democratic politics may have begun under the Liberals, but it has continued under the Tories. And it will accelerate if there is no price to be paid at the ballot box for such behaviour.

And yet, although the Liberals have tried to make accountability an issue in this election, they have signally failed. Does this mean the public has spoken? Perhaps once again I’ve attached too much importance to a single issue, at the expense of the big picture.

I don’t think so. The Liberals never gave the public much reason to translate their misgivings about the Conservatives into votes for them: a particular imperative, given their own record in office. It’s not enough just to implore people to “rise up.” You have to give them some hope that things will get better. But instead of the sort of large, concrete, attention-grabbing proposals that would really stamp the issue on the public mind, the democratic reform chapter of the Liberal platform is notably thin: reform of question period, a study of online voting, a vague nod to empowering committees.

So I will continue to make the case that we have a duty to perform as voters. Any election is in part a trial of the incumbents. Do we, the jury, find them guilty or not guilty, in this case of offences against democracy? And if we find them guilty, there has to be a penalty.

But what about the economy? In punishing the government, do we risk punishing the country? No. Economies have enormous recuperative powers: as Adam Smith said, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” We can afford a period of Liberal silliness. What we cannot afford is the continuing slide of Parliament, and parliamentary democracy, into disrepair. Conventions once discarded, habits of self-government once lost, are much harder to regain.

If we return the Conservatives with a majority, if we let all that has gone on these past five years pass, then not only the Tories, but every party will draw the appropriate conclusions. But if we send them a different message, then maybe the work of bringing government to democratic heel, begun in the tumult of the last Parliament, can continue. And that is why I will be voting Liberal on May 2.


A price must be paid—but by whom?

  1. Aha! I knew all along you were a liberal shill.

    Haha, beat you all to it.

    • minus 39 (at time of posting)
      don't any of you folks have a sense of humour?

      And I commend Andrew for not drinking the same kool-aid that the execrable G&M did.

    • Hi Bob,
      He is just trying to protect his gig on the "At Issue" panel.
      First thing one learns ar LSE.

      • Chantal Hebert will certainly have a sour look on her face next show!!

        • Chantal is chick?

  2. A win for democracy.

    • Certainly a win for writing from a place of principle, and for elevating our Canadian dialog against the momentum of our seemingly ever-accelerating plummet.

    • Go Andrew! A true piece from your heart! I salute you! I gather you are not looking for a senate seat, LOL!

    • You've been polishing your halo again.

  3. And, cue heads 'asploding..

  4. A delightfullly cogent and reasoned analysis of the pros and (mostly) cons of both parties. Your choice, while imperfect, is also the most pragmatic. It is foolhardy to renovate a house that has a decaying foundation. Democracy and respect for the voters is supposed to be the foundation, and the Conservatives have given up even pretending that they care about it. I will be voting Liberal as well.

    • I agree in principle. My choice is NDP because of the "decaying foundation" both Liberal and especially Conservative whom I voted for in the last two elections.

  5. Replacing the Chretien/Martin Liberals with the Harper Conservatives didn't send a message about accountability and transparency, unless it's "they're optional."

    Basically, I agree with your objectives but differ with your tactics. Expressing your disgust with business-as-usual politics by voting for the other business-as-usual party is, at best, shuffling deck chairs. Meanwhile, the NDP as well as the Greens and whatever other minor parties are available in your riding are at least outsiders. They have a vested interest in changing the status quo as well as no real chance they'll form that government they're not ready for.

    • Interesting that you would lump Chretien/Martin together. They had more differences than commonalties. The most striking is that the sponsorship scandal happened under Cretien's watch. Martin, in contrast, was the one who actually called for an public inquiry, though would have benefitted by doing absolutely nothing at all. I would say that is a pretty stark contrast.

      • I meant to tie Chretien/Martin together in terms of Liberal regimes, not in terms of personalities.

        I didn't mind Martin too much as a Prime Minister, but he had the same MPs as Chretien, most of the same party staff as Chretien. The Liberals changed the boss but they didn't change the organization, and it's not like Chretien was just some lone kleptomaniac at the top collecting signed golf balls while his underlings stumbled blindly through the fog.

        And in any case, the big meme of that election campaign was accountability; that's where we got the famous Accountability Act and its associated infamous talking point. Much of the media, and presumably the electorate, perceived the Conservative minority as delivering the same blow in favour of democracy and accountability that Andrew now hopes a Liberal government will deliver.

        • Much of the media, and presumably the electorate, perceived the Conservative minority as delivering the same blow in favour of democracy and accountability that Andrew now hopes a Liberal government will deliver.

          True – but the aptly-nicknamed Cons failed miserably. Had they lived up to those commitments, I'd likely be an enthusiastic supporter. Instead, I, like Coyne, have decided to throw my (lukewarm) support behind my benchwarmer Liberal incumbent in an effort to keep Harper from his majority.

          If I thought the Greens or NDP had a shot in my riding, I might give one of them my vote – but really, in Bramalea-Gore-Malton it's going to be Liberal or Conservative; unless I'm completely out of touch with the sentiments of my riding (always a posibility), the others are also-rans here.

          • True – but the aptly-nicknamed Cons failed miserably.

            Oh, they sure did! And that's my point. Voters and pundits got behind the Conservative Party because they promised accountability, responsibility, democracy, etc. They got none of those things. Why? Because the Conservative Party is an old-school party like the Liberals: far from having an interest in changing the system, the Conservatives are half the group who made it.

            If anything, the post-Martin Conservatives were more dedicated in theory to cleaning up Parliament than the current, Ignatieff Liberals: the Conservatives promised the Accountability Act (and actually delivered; a rare campaign promise kept!) and to clean up Parliament. The Liberals are just generally promising change and imploring us to "rise up" like a Bruce Springsteen concert.

            Which is why I think a vote for one of the minor parties is at least a vote for something different and a genuine wake-up call to the Big Two. I wonder how many Green voters are just Generic Protest Voters? I can definitely sympathize with those who are.

          • A vote for a minor parties, is only a vote if that minor party has any chance of winning. Nowadays that means NDP or liberal. Although I may agree with Green policies, all they accomplished last time was to split the vote and allow more conservatives to get elected.

            A protest vote is futile. You may as well stay home.

          • That's why we need proportional representation – especially if we're talking about improving democracy.

          • The solution is to vote Liberal. A lot of people have met Ignatieff face to face, and now know everything the Cons said about him was a lie. You won't hear this from the right-wing media (i.e, everybody except the Star) but the grassroots get it that Ignatieff cares. He's a heart and mind guy through and through, with a great team around him. Vote Liberal and say good-bye to amateur hour on the Rideau!

          • I agree completely with you maudie. I attended a Liberal rally in Toronto the other night and Mr. Ignatieff was amazing. I think he would make a great prime minister. As Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star said recently, I want my leaders to be smarter than me.

          • Ignatief will join Stanfield as a great Prime Minister we never had. Maybe- we'll have to wait and see what next week brings us.

    • "…no real chance they'll form that government they're not ready for."

      Have you heard of Bob Rae?

      • Have you heard of the Harris's Gang? Your long term memory serves you well, but the more shorter one isn't doing much…

  6. You are my hero! And I am way too old to be saying such things … I agree, I agree, and I absolutely agree … the economy can recover … our democracy may not … and, I live here. It matters.

  7. I guess I have been following Andrew too long. I basically used these exact arguments last night with my wife to say he would endorse the Liberals!
    Hard to disagree with most of this, except I think you can not brush over the impact the NDP will have on pulling them left in their working arrangement formerly known as a coalition. Also the cost of their dabbling programs (a little but of education here, a little bit of child care here etc) is too great for the nominal benefit it provides.
    If only there was a way of having Andrew's Coalition of the Serious!

    • I'm not sure you are correct. If the Liberals formed the government, they would be concerned about getting our deficit under control. As a party, they know they can't afford to neglect financial responsibility. I think Harper has neglected this to some extent (the deficit he caused not associated with the recession). The CPC can get away with this more than the Liberals, because many voters just assume Conservatives are financially conservative.

  8. If only more Canadians could be compelled to 'show their work' before they mark their ballot.

  9. What if the problems with the quality of Canadian parliament/democracy are not the result of a few evil men, but rather, are encouraged by systemic factors like:
    -cameras in parliament (which elevate the sort of angry people that do well in question period), and increasingly presidential view of the Prime Minister from the media
    -a fractious multiparty environment in which brand differentiation pays off more than bridge-building
    -a system of party financing that forces each party to rely on its hyperpartisan activist base
    -minority government, and the perpetual election that goes with it

    The decline of parliament as an institution has been happening for a long time, under both parties, and often under the watch of good men with the best of intentions. So, while I certainly don't question your choice, I do question the usefulness of sanctioning parties as a mechanism for change. What we need isn't better men, its REFOOOOOORM.

    • Preston Manning couldn't get elected in Ontario and the Maritimes, or unite the PC and Reform parties.

      Stephen Harper could.

      Make of that what you will. Though I will say for all those who thought Preston Manning was the doom of civilization in the 90's…. he's looking pretty good now isn't he?

      • What I mean is that structural reforms (and Manning's specific reforms may not be the right ones, I simply think he was correct in viewing the problem as a structural one) are necessary in order to make both good and wicked leaders respect parliament. The catch-22 is that the winners of elections tend to be the ones that benefit most from the status quo. However, if people could make democratic reform an issue – rallying around a set of specific reforms – that might change. Michael Chong is probably the closest to such a position, but I think he is focused too much on the superficial aspects of a dysfunctional parliament, and not on things that connect to real outcomes.

        • But as a contrast to the structural problems meme…

          Do you think that if Manning had been in charge of the Conservative Party over these two minorities, that the parliament would have been as nasty? Even if Manning didn't actually make any structural reforms? What about if Paul Martin had been in charge of the Conservative Party after an alternate history floor crossing?

    • One of the saddest decays of parliament is not the addition of cameras (which admittedly turns the behaviour more to showmanship) but the lack of attendance when the cameras are turned off. The House of Commons unless it is question period. The place where politicians are supposed to go to debate and consider issues before voting — deserted. How can they possibly make informed decisions?

    • Points well taken. If we must keep the camera, at least let it roam. So when an MP is grandstanding or sleeping, he'll never be sure. Free or secret voting may be part of the necessary evolution for minority gov'ts to succeed and it would lessen the power of the party bosses. If MPs can vote their conscience or that of their electorate,(not party bosses) then in effect the people would be better heard and their vote would mean more..

  10. Thank you Andrew Coyne. This article is like reading a version of my own thoughts.

    The NDP probably can't find five competent people to put in cabinet, so that's a no go right from the start.

    I'd like to vote Conservative as I have in previous years but can't excuse the viscious partisanship and utter lack of respect for our democratic princples and institutions.

    I'm not particularly enamoured with the Liberals right now, but I'd like my vote to actually mean something, so…

    • The NDP would put people like you and me in cabinet, people who I would like to think are competent at at what they do. If you are looking for the elite to rescue our Canada, I say forget about it. Having ordinary folks be our representatives is the best possible way for us to get what we want out of our government. If they appoint an economist to be minister of finance, what is wrong with that? I am tired of having those who live in Ivory Towers make decisions for the rest of us, because they are so out of touch of what me and you the ordinary people need and want.

      • The Conservatives didn't have five competent people-but they are still an option for people.

  11. The effect of raising corporate taxes to 18% will be nil and whatever policy the Liberals have in their platform will be amendable/ditchable (Red Book 1993) not to mention they might actually work. It's far too dangerous to keep sliding along the Democracy Slope™ the Conservatives have put us on. Yes, the libs did it first and the PC before them, blah, blah…but we can't let contempt for parliament go unchecked.

    I endorse this endorsement (but I won't be voting Liberal).

    • Oh don't be coy Christopher.. who will you be voting for?

      I know! The Rhinos! :)

      • He is an independent candidate in Edmonton – Strathcona. It is safe to assume that he will be voting for himself, as he should.

      • Running as an Independent in Edmonton-Strathcona, so I think I'll vote for myself. (Given my expected vote share, I expect this single vote to equal about 1%-25% of my total vote base).

        Who would I vote for if I weren't running? I think I'd build a time machine and go back to early April and force myself to run.

        • (sigh.. I should have used "joker" font..)

          Interesting thought though, you needed at least 100 people to vouch for your candidacy didn't you? So I would expect your vote to be at *most* 1% of the total you get.

        • I wish you great luck with your campaign bid, and I thank you for the civic engagement you spear-headed a couple of years ago.

          I'm curious to know how you think you will align your vote in the HoC should you win the election and head to Ottawa? I'm also curious, but not pushily so, about why you chose to run in Edmonton Strathcona, where the only non-Conservative incumbent is also running?

          • I'm running in Edmonton-Strathcona because this is where I live. I'm three blocks from O'Byrnes and seven from Wunderbar. Wouldn't want to parachute myself into another riding. Besides, even if I were I'd be running against another NDP candidate and I don't agree with their platform.

            As for my voting in the House, I can't say. I will be voting on bills, issue by issue guided by my conscience and the will of my constituents. I have no interest in Question Period (only recognized parties can ask questions anyways) so that a few extra hours a day I can dedicate to constituents and my own research. I have just as much opportunity to introduce a private member's bill (that ability is allocated by lottery) and I look forward to debate, rather than just showing up and voting with the party line.

            That might not be the answer you're looking for, but it gives you an idea of my thought process. I have no idea which government we'll end up with, and that will have a big impact on what I'm able to accomplish and what I'll support.

          • Independents do get questions and statements. I think it's on a weekly or by-weekly basis, if they wish. I know Helena Guergis had several questions/statement after she was booted from the CPC.

          • Thanks! I wasn't looking for any answer but your real thoughts. I wish you the best of luck!

  12. Oh my god, somebody feels almost exactly the same way as I do!

    • I have a sneaking suspicion most Canadians are weighing exactly the same issues Coyne has here; the question is how the scales will balance for them. Mine have been balanced in the Liberals' favour since before the election started and, while I have been paying close attention, I haven't seen anything to convince me to shift. Though I have to say I've been less and less impressed with the Liberals' campaign. If I didn't personally put so much emphasis on the need to punish the Cons for their horrendous behaviour, I might well be looking for somewhere else to park my vote.

    • Someone feels the same way you do??You feel like a fool for being a Liberal and getting beat by the NDP. That is nothing to be proud of.

  13. You limited your own choice by dismissing NDP – I just have to say this: NDP is a viable alternative for those of us sick and tired of status quo. Liberals and Conservatives are one and the same at this point. And even then, if we had to choose between the two (and I'm GLAD the polls show we don't have to), Liberals would be a much more conscientious choice, from a values stand point. Liberals = education, healthcare, democracy vs. Conservatives = tough on *unreported* crime, undemocratic, war-obsessed.

    • I guess it's just that for those who are serious about the actual working of government, the fact that the NDP has so few candidates that are truly ready to fill cabinet positions is a serious problem.

      I think Harper essentially had the same problem. If you don't have a few dozen seasoned MPs who can run the massive portfolios of government, you end up having to centralize your governing structure, which leads to a lack of independent decision making and a lot of micromanagment.

      In part I think the CPC ended up being so negative and controlling because they just didn't have enough competent people to fill all the neccesary rolls. As a result, the PMO was crushed with too much responsibility and ended up with a war mentality in terms of dealing with the volume of incoming issues that needed responding to on a daily basis.

      I really believe we would've seen an entirely different CPC government, one closer to its roots, if not for this. Harper had to carry the whole damn thing himself, more or less, and it turned him into someone I could never vote for.

    • Layton has had 5 years to gather a competent slate of local riding NDP candidates. Instead, he has the freaks from "Table 9" from the "Wedding Singer" running for him.

      Nothing against Jack personally, but I'll park my vote with award winning authors, artists, academics and scientists running for the Liberal party.

      Not too many people are comfortable voting for "sideburns" lady….regardless of whether she has Jack's name on her campaign sign.

  14. My feelings exactly. Thank you Andrew.

    • Ditto!

  15. This comment was deleted.

    • Because corporations are owned by people who invested in them using after-tax money, and who will pay more tax on the money they get from the corporations.

      • 80% of all stocks are owned by 20% of the population. So frankly, the "people" don't own snot, the richest 20% do.

        If you want to help the average person be more self sufficient, you tax them less on their pay and let them decide whether to spend or save. That's why consumption taxes on non-essentials make more sense.

        Besides, if people have more money then they buy more stuff, and business does just fine thank you.

        Ultimately, if there's a demand for something, there's going to be a business to fill it, as long as we have a globally competitive tax regime. And frankly, 15% is ridiculously low on that score.

        • 15% is just the federal rate. The combined federal-provincial rate would be, on average, 27%. That would bring us on par with right-wing fascist countries such as Denmark and Sweden.

          The point is that corporations are owned by people, so whatever money you get from the corporate tax comes out of the pockets of investors.

          If you want a progressive tax system, go directly after the rich by raising the rates on high brackets. Going instead after investors as a proxy is bad for at least two reasons:
          – You encourage consumption over saving and investing, which distorts the allocation of resources and hurts long-run growth. Your point on letting people decide whether to spend or save is a good one. But our current system is heavily biased against saving, because you are taxed three times on your investment income (the corporate income tax, either the dividend or capital gains tax, and finally the GST), but just once if you consume (GST). (This is why I also prefer a consumption tax – we agree on that score.)
          – These include middle-class folks, and not just through their direct stock holdings: pension funds such as the CPP have a lot invested in stocks too. You're penalizing the scrimping middle-class guy (OK, there aren't many of them, but still) over the freewheeling rich guy who spends all his money.

    • Couldn't agree more Brian. We've gone from 28% and will soon be at 15%, and yet productivity has gone nowhere over this 7 year period. We still haven't recovered all the jobs we lost in the recession, and we've gutted tens of billions from federal revenues that mostly end up in the pockets of the richest 20%.

      I understand there's a lot of other mitigating economic factors, but fankly I can't see how this has benefitted the average Canadian, whose real income hasn't moved in over twenty years.

      • Regarding gutting tens of billions in revenue..

        This article over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative suggests that total revenue from CIT hasn't really been affected all that much by the rate cuts. It seems that big businesses have enough accounting leeway so as to basically hand over about the same percentage to the federal government.

        Am I missing something? Is there a more relevant measure than % of GDP?

        I do agree with the disappointing ROI that "we" have received from these rate cuts…."we" were promised that the rate cuts would help business increase productivity (yet we still seem to be lagging, or so say the bloviators), that the rate cuts would create jobs (not so sure that has panned out).

        • Corporate tax cuts are not supposed to create jobs – the article to which you link is correct, and the Conservative argument for the cuts is baloney. The equilibrium level of employment is determined by other factors.

          Corporate tax cuts are about *long-run* growth through capital accumulation: lower taxes on business investment = more investment = more capital per worker = higher productivity. Alas, by definition, accumulating something takes time. The cuts' positive impact on economic growth is alas not really noticeable. Maybe growing at 2.8% instead of 2.6% doesn't seem like a big deal, but over time, it adds up.

          • unfortunately that *long run* star is a really important caveat in your point. Canadian Corps. are hoarding more cash than ever, and our R&D % of GDP has been going down a long time. At this stage I have to question when it will happen. It seems more pshychological than cash based. I'm not for picking industries or businesses, but maybe there's a better tool. Innovation is a big challenge, and right now I'm not convinced the tax rate is the answer.

          • Companies can't hoard cash forever though, since they need to offer investors a better return than the safe rate. The problem with corporate tax cuts is that even if they work, you can't feel it because it would increase growth by a few tenths of a percentage point, which is dwarfed by all the noise. So the left is always going to be able to attack that policy.

            Now, although low corporate taxes are good, but they are not the main piece of the puzzle, which remains education. And by that I don't necessarily mean advanced degrees, though it's an important part of the equation. Our education system needs to be giving students the skills that the market demands. This is one area where there's a good reason to suspect the free market is inefficient: most 18-year-olds don't really know what occupations have shortages before choosing what they study, and little effort is expanded in informing them.

            Education is also key to reducing inequality. If there are more skilled workers, then the wage gap between the skilled and the less skilled will decrease.

  16. This is probably one of the most well thought out thought processes to deciding where to place your vote that I have read. I am surprised that your vote matches mine, but not at how you arrived there.

    Thanks for showing that there is a critical thought process that should go into how you determine where a vote is cast. I fear that part of the real problem is that the populace has been trained to only think via access to 140 characters, 30 second soundbites, or party catchphrases.

    Policy cannot and should not be explained that way. Unfortunately, it is the way that elections are won or lost. I don't have a solution, I just know that we all have a role to play, be it media, party or voter in ensuring that the real issues don't continue down the path of simplicity or dumbing down in order to be heard, understood, thought about, and acted upon.

    Real vision means nuance. Canadians deserve better from themselves, those they elect, and those that report upon it.

    Posts like yours give me a glimmer of hope that we may get back on that track yet.

  17. Sounds like a coin flip between bad and worse. Hardly an inspired vote. Dismissing a vote for either the Green Party and NDP is
    ridiculous. What Canada needs more then ANYTHING is electoral reform. A deck shuffle is NOT going to do it Andrew. We need MP's that will shine a spotlight on the need for Proportional Representation . 90% of the developed world has it because they have muliti-party systems like Canada- not a 2 horse race as you would see it.

    • Personally I'm a fan of the single transferable vote. You get to rate your first, second, third etc choices, which are then counted from first to second etc until one candidate gets more than 50%.

      That way if 60% of the population has LPC/NDP as their first and second choice, a CPC candidate with only 31% of the vote can't sneak up the middle.

      • I agree, the single transferable vote is the least disruptive approach to killing the wedge politics.

        • It got rejected in BC as much as any thing[IMO] because it involved making the ridings much larger and taking away some of the immediacy of voting for a candidate you know. This seems to be a sticking point with many of the PR proposals. Canadians seem attached to this notion of electing a local candidate who is directly accountable. I have to say i've come to support that view. I tend to lean a little toward some kind of runoff proposals – although the various alternatives do seem a little confusing to me anyway.

          • Studies have shown that only 5% of the people vote for the local candidate as opposed to the party. 95% vote for either the party or the party leader which are generally indistinguisable. You could probably run kindergarten students in most Alberta ridings under the conservative banner and they would win hands down because a conservative culture has evolved in that province.

          • Good point. Our collective ignorance is astonishing. More civics in school???

          • Coyne confirmed your statement. He's voting for the party. I didn't see any mention of the candidate he will vote for.

      • What you have described is actually Alternative Vote (which I suppose is one form of STV) – STV usually refers to a system using multi-member districts along with preferential balloting. Thus a district might have 3 MPs elected each of which has to reach a Droop quota (100% divided by number of candidates plus one, i.e. 25% in a 3 member district) based on first preferences plus reallocated second, third, etc. preferences. Thus AV is generally much better reflective of the best choice (consensus pick) for a constituency, and does give 3rd parties a better chance because it eliminates the problem of vote splitting, but as far as proportionality goes you really need STV with multi-member districts.

      • also agreed. helped out with BC STV. that was a sad day.

      • Actually that sounds like instant runoff unless you really mean the STV swhich has multiple candidates to elect in a larger riding. Instant runoff works like you say (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc choices) for a riding where there will be a single winner. There are different possible formulae for how to determine the winner. One good one is the Condorcet method.

  18. Andrew, I'm surprise to see you advocating voting for a party over an MP. But I'm pretty sure that deep down you are voting for the MP over the party since you live in Rosedale your choice is between voting for a no-name Conservative or voting for Bob Rae (a pretty respectable statesmen that you have showered praise on many occasions). So it's obvious why you are voting Liberal… but your column was pretty good nonetheless.

    • agreed, that is the real reason, he is not living in a marginal riding.

    • Even allowing for the probability that Andrew's address is publicly available (on this site or elsewhere), the fact that you would reference it in your response (coupled with your presumption of some deeper level of personal insight into Andrew's voting process) strikes me as odd. I suppose that the dawn of new media has enabled journalists to forge more personal relationships with their respective audiences and ushered in new standards of transparency (wherein public figure may be judged not only by his published work, but also by the private context in which that work is generated).

      All the same, when a writer goes through the trouble of expressing his views in such painstaking detail, regardless as to whether you agree with the ultimate conclusion (or the process by which it was reached), it's a touch presumptuous to dismiss the entire structure of the argument as so much window-dressing of a vote for the candidate with greater star wattage. Perhaps more so in this instance, since Andrew was under no obligation to announce or explain his intended vote.

  19. "If we return the Conservatives with a majority, if we let all that has gone on these past five years pass, then not only the Tories, but every party will draw the appropriate conclusions"


    • Much of what has gone on these past five years is the result of dysfunctional minority parliaments. Much reform needs to be done, and the parties must behave better, but for the benefit of the economy I'm voting conservative to allow them to prove what they can do for us with a majority. I believe an election 4 years from now can correct supposed erosion of democracy far quicker than the economy can be repaired.

      • You failed to mention 2 of the last 4 election was called by Harper and the Conservatives. How convenient of you to forget this fact.

      • It's not the fact of the minority that has caused the problems
        It's the fact that the PM took advantage of a weak opponent, and did not govern as one should with a minority.
        Now that he';s surprised by a strong opponent, he's in trouble.
        Anyway, the long demonized Liberal/ NDP coalition may come to fruition-or perhaps we'll see Harper and Ignatief trying to dance into a Lib/Con coalition that neither of them can admit to, sort of like illicit lovers?

  20. Mr. Coyne, you should be commended for your candor. An honest assessment of the parties' proposals and track records show that none are exceptionally worthy, but that the rewarding Conservative conduct would be the worst outcome for our democracy. Choosing the path of least potential damage — the Liberals — may not be inspiring, but is correct in the given circumstance.

    • I have to disagree Amateur: Take a look at the past 40 years of mainly Liberal RULE and I mean take a good look (I did – over a years worth of looking through the bowels of mumbo jumbo Government pages – that are finally becoming available to read with comprehension thanks to the Conservatives) and you can't ignore the downward slow but sure (a lot faster in Quebeck of course) elimination of not only our rights here in PQ, but all Canadians Rights. And add to that the MISSING multi BILLIONS of Dollars – that were among other things – supposed to go to the English "minority of Quebec" – another illegal action enacted into our much sullied laws- that we never saw one penny of!!!!! And please note: the majority vote – the English of Quebeck – having been shut out of the Liberal Party in la belle province are NOT SUPPORTING THE LIBERALS ANYMORE!! And without our vote – they don't have a prayer of winning anything! Add to that: the Quebec 'Arm" of the party KNEW AND KNOWS that and yet…. they have DELIBERATELY DESTROYED the Party here in Quebeck. And the ONLY Party that has ever heled is the BLOC of course. It is at the very least – a very, very, very Stupid thing to do – no? So what do you think possessed them to create this killing of the Liberal Party in the much needed Greater Montreal area these past 15 years??? It's beyond mind boggling don't you think?

      • Amateur Hour is absolutely right.

  21. "If we return the Conservatives with a majority, if we let all that has gone on these past five years pass, then not only the Tories, but every party will draw the appropriate conclusions"

    And therein lies the bottomline consideration. Should this behaviour be rewarded with a stronger mandate, then every other party will rightfully conclude that it is the template path to power.

    • Give me a break. Have the Liberals paid back the Adscam money?
      I feel the libneral scandals, are far worse then having a coalition of power hungry enemies finding you in contempt.

      • The Liberals were punished by the voters Jenahlin…now it looks like the Cons will be too.

  22. Thank you for this.

    Above all else, democracy must go on.

    • and so must motherhood and the 5-day week.

      • If you hold democracy in so little regard that you can make mock of it, that says more about you than anything else.

        • so who's mocking democracy? Look in the mirror.

          • You make as bad an American as you did a Canadian….now return to the topic. I'm not it.

          • Yet excanuck's citizenship is?

        • You must really think very little of Rick Mercer then

          • Mercer makes fun of politicians, not democracy.

          • He makes fun of the state our democracy has been brought to by politicians (and the public), as he rightly should.

          • Rick Mercer is a bad comedian.

    • Suck it Emily! This is democracy! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

      • Actually it's futureshock, mixed in your case, with mad cowboy disease.

  23. Right on Andrew!! You reached the right decision after a long convoluted process. May I add one more decision maker to your list – the support of Harper, the Conservative party, and the Conservative government to the export of asbestos from Quebec. This substance is known to cause disease that kills approximately 90,000 people worldwide per year. It has been banned in Canada for decades and removed from countless old buildings.

    • Asbestos is still used around the world, get over it. Our standards are not global standards, to assume they are you become an imperialist imposing your rules on others. Are you an imperialist, Robert G Lake that you will put your boot on the throat of people in a developing country, and deny people trying to bring their country up to better standards because it does not fit with your world view? Asbestos has a use, and probably is an economical choice for fire prevention in third world countries. It's installation and use is most likely very different from how it was installed here previously and with new tech it's most likely installed and used with minimal exposure to users.

  24. For me every election is a plebiscite on the incumbent: Harper did not convinced me that he is a Stateman able to gather diversity into one purpouse, and in an openly manner.

    So who to replace him? I still remember Liberals try to buy my loyalty to Canada. The Bloc is none quantity anymore, they asking us to choose and discriminate between two identities I could definitly live with. To give a default vote to a smiley guy is very tempting but are their numbers add up.

    Who's ready to govern in the opposition benches then: Recent additions by the libs, the leader and its deputy especially, have proven they are ready to govern. They can't do worst really. This is why my vote would go to a liberal candidate.

  25. Andrew,

    You sure must look like a pretzel today. The contortions you had to make to get yourself through the Red Door a yogaesque.

  26. He went to great pains to explain that his vote had nothing to do with "centrist" ideals and that this was not about returning to the patterns of our previous governments but of finally breaking them.

  27. First off, I'd like to applaud Mr. Coyne's deep commitment to democratic values that he's displayed throughout this campaign. However, I would take issue with his equally deep reverence for corporate tax cuts. It remains unclear whether consistent reductions in corporate taxes actually create jobs and benefit individual Canadians, or whether they simply pad the pockets of the already wealthy. If you're going to support corporate tax cuts, you should do what the Conservatives have not done and provide factual information as to why they're of benefit to all Canadians. Second, I would ask Mr. Coyne to explain why European countries such as Norway and Sweden with admittedly high tax rates — both personal and corporate — consistently top lists for quality of life.

    • I agree completely. Factors that influence economic productivity and job creation far more than tax rates are: 1) an educated and skilled work force; 2) modern efficient infrastructure and 3) reliable affordable access to health care for the workforce. Corporations evaluate these factors before they even consider tax rates when making investment decisions. All of these factors REQUIRE higher levels of government investment and hence corporate tax rates to effectively accomplish them.

  28. Thank heavens clearer and more reasoned heads prevail at Maclean’s!
    I was shocked at the Globe and Mail’s analysis today and consider the degradation of democracy to be a major concern – so much so that I too will be voting Liberal.

  29. "If we return the Conservatives with a majority, if we let all that has gone on these past five years pass, then not only the Tories, but every party will draw the appropriate conclusions."
    Right on Andrew. It's like the dirty style of hockey introduced by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s. After they won two Stanley Cups, the game was changing, so when the Canadiens beat them out the following year, Serge Savard said that it was not only a victory for Montreal, but for hockey as well.
    We really need a victory for democracy right now.

    • Beautiful analogy. Unfortunately, the Liberals are more like the Leafs, but…

      • Team Red isn't even making the first round, meanwhile:
        The NDP Mighy Ducks….. in contention for the Cup: "e's never coached. They've never won. Together they'll learn everything about winning!"
        While Gilles' Nordiques may need a bailout from the pq to keep functioning…..

    • Regarding democracy — I found this piece to offer some good food for thought: http://tinyurl.com/3btyler

  30. I recall Andrew's article in early 2009 "The death of conservatism".

    He was correct then, he's correct now.

    I voted Mulroney twice and then voted Liberal since.

    Kudos to Andrew for sharing his voting choice.

    For the sake of our parliamentary democracy, I am also voting Liberal.

    • I too originally supported Mulroney but then came to hate him. As time passed and I reflected back on that hate, I reached the conclusion that I was suckered by the media,
      Mulroney gave us the Clean Air Act, Free trade and the GST, Meech and Charlottetown, The latter were pure democracy having been taken directly to the people or their reps. The Middle two allowed the economy to recover from the Trudeau years and the benefit of the first is obvious. Jack says he will open up the constitution to right the wrongs that resulted from the Liberal defeat of Meech and Charlottetown and the RCMP investigated Mulroney for ten yrs and not found him guilty of any breech of law. He remained guilty in Liberal lore only. So sticking with the facts,who is in the right?
      The media is the problem, not the solution.

  31. I don't think that the Liberals would provide any improvement for your "democracy"-based vote. In opposition, they've never given any indication that they would do any better. In fact, I think they would be worse than the Tories.

    When it comes to the prorogue, I suppose you are saying you would have preferred to see the coalition take power. I find that utterly bizarre, but that seems to be what you're saying.

    • They may not, and Andrew acknowledges that.
      What it does do, however, is send a message to all the parties that "This type of behavior is unacceptable to us," and leaves the supposition of what "might" happen in the future.

      To me, that's sensible voting. Judge on the evidence available first and foremost. Only when those are in balance or demonstrably non-applicable should we really start basing decisions on suppositions.

      • "send a message to all the parties"

        I don't see how he is doing that. Voting for the Liberals is not voting for an improvement in democratic principles, because the Liberals were just as bad, and in some cases worse, than the Tories. If anything, the NDP showed more democratic principle when Layton allowed the free vote on the gun registry (although Pat Martin's behaviour in committees is probably the worst amongst all the parties).

        • Except that we threw the Liberals out based on their actions and they've languished since.

          Now we're passing judgement on the latest government, and one that promised to be more principled.

          Have they been? Gaaawd no.

          So we need to throw these bums out just like we did the last ones.

          Of course it would be ideal if we could vote a third party and shun them both, but does anyone in the know really think the NDP can staff a cabinet with competent people?

          • Bingo!

          • That doesn't make any sense.

            Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
            Albert Einstein

            If every time you "throw the bums out" nothing changes, then clearly the solution does not address the problem. In fact, like I said, I would expect things to be worse with the Liberals in charge.

          • Really? We threw them out last time for hiding information from parliament that parliament demanded? We threw them out for proroging to avoid confidence votes?

            No. We threw them out for adscam.

            Well, so far as we're aware, adscam hasn't recurred. Seems like it worked last time.

          • Adscam hasn't recurred because the Liberals are in opposition. If you want another adscam, but them back in charge.

          • Different liberals. Again, you've gone from evidence to supposition.

          • Plenty of corruption in Harper's minority government like Harper's close policy advisor getting millions of taxpayers' dollars to waste on PR for filthy Big Oil.

          • So you admit your own insantiy by voting for the same guys currently in power who've done nothing but show their disrespect for democracy.

            From the firing of Linda Keen and intimidation of what are supposed to be independent overseers, to the illegal spending of tens of millions in Clement's riding, to witholding and hiding information from Parliament on a whole host of issues, to purposefully misquoting the Auditor General in a minority report, to abusing the proroguing procedures, to ignoring their own election laws, etc etc etc.

            Jesus, I've lost count of the means and ways this party has abused and neglected the principles and procedures of our way of life.

            Good god man, pull your head out!

          • Sorry, but I'm done with you. Learn how to debate someone with respect.

          • Buddy you lost the ability to claim the high ground years ago.

            I've had so many one line comments from you that amounted to little more than "you're wrong you stink" I've lost count.

            If you dish it, be prepared to take it.

            And for the record, what was it you thought I was asking you to pull your head out of?

            The clouds? The sand? Something more creative? LOL

            Just curious. I find self identification fascinating.

          • A bit rich coming from one of the most disrespectful, partisan and unthinking commenters here.

            You should learn to debate. Period.

          • Nice drive-by Patchouli. Stay classy. To you (and many others), being conservative is disrespectful. As for this particular debate, I've been very respectful to all of you and I don't like Phil King's disrespectful ad-hominems. If you want to learn to argue your side respectfully, take a lesson from danby or YYZ.

          • You are a vicious little prick and should stop whining that people are showiing their disgust with your own behaviour. Grow up.

          • Another conservative-hater shows up. Quelle surprise. Funny how your type likes to join the end of a debate so you can hurl your own insults – such a valuable contribution. Stay classy. You should join Patchouli and Phil. Bring your torch and pitchfork.

        • Voting for the Liberals is not voting for an improvement in democratic principles

          And rewarding the Conservatives with a majority is an endorsement for their utter disregard for democratic principles.
          Pushing all the excuses aside, if the Conservatives had shown a higher degree of conduct in their approach to governing, they would be looking at multiple majorities by now. They could not have faced weaker opposition than those of 2008 and 2011, but their conduct turns a lot of people off.
          You can hail Stephen Harper's genius all you like, but the man is polarizing. The only thing standing between my being open to voting Conservative is Stephen Harper. I will not even consider it until he is gone – and I am not alone.

          • if the Conservatives had shown a higher degree of conduct in their approach to governing, they would be looking at multiple majorities by now. They could not have faced weaker opposition than those of 2008 and 2011, but their conduct turns a lot of people off.

            Full marks, danby! You got it exactly right.

          • I completely disagree. The only reason the Conservative did not win a majority is: the BQ. It's extremely difficult to win a majority of seats when 50 of the seats are directed to a separatist party that runs in only one region of the country. It's simple mathematics. The only reason Chretien did it is because he had essentially no organized opposition.

            If you subtract those 50 separatist seats, then you end up with the requirement that to get a majority, you need to win 60% of the remaining seats.

            If you remove the province of Quebec from the equation (75 seats), then the 2008 election resulted in a majority by a wide margin, and both 2004 and 2006 the winner was just a scant 3 seats short of a majority.

          • How will your argument hold when the NDP takes those seats?

          • I don't know what you mean. Anyway, I've already talked about that. The NDP can do no better, because taking those seats required that they take on BQ policies. Eventually the ROC will discover this. http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/28/a-price-must-b

          • Are you cracked? You realize those seats don't disappear right? Someone's sitting there one way or another.

            Or is your theory that this portion of the populace which has routinely voted progressive for three generations, is suddenly going to vote CPC if they don't vote BLOC?

            Your logic is astounding.

          • Dont confuse the Harper haters with facts

    • Two points: Your assessment that the Liberals might not be better on democracy is fair. I don't agree but hey, neither of us can know for certain.

      Point 2: Harper had the option to face the house and win or a lose a confidence vote. That would not necessarily have formed a coalition, and even if it did, would have been legal and in accordance with the law.

      I thought the coalition was a terrible idea too. But Harper had a choice other than to use a procedural tool for political gain.

      • Yes, on both counts it is just a matter of opinion then. We disagree on point 1, and we acknowledge that it's really impossible to know, there is no proof available either way.

        On point 2, yes, he could have faced a confidence vote, but of course, seeing as how the three opposition parties had already signed their coalition document, the outcome of a no-confidence vote was essentially a foregone conclusion. Sure, it's a valid opinion that Harper should have allowed the coalition to take power, an opinion you seem to share with Coyne, but one that I don't share. The prorogation maneouvre was also legal and in accordance with law.

        • "…The prorogation maneouvre was also legal and in accordance with law…"

          I meaningless statment. He broke the very spirit of the prorogue procedure. The fact that there is no law or punative price for abusing it does not mean that what he did was right or principled.

          The point of the prorogue precedure is to formally end a sitting session in which all the current legislation under consideration has been dealt with. It allows for a break before a new sitting starts, in which new legislation is brought forward.

          No Prime Minister should be able to use such procedures to avoid a confidence vote. Not ever.

          • I repeat, the prorogation maneouvre was also legal and in accordance with law. If the statement were meaningless you wouldn't feel the need to debate it. The statement is true. Both the coalition two weeks after an election they lost during which they denied they would form a coalition, and the ensuing prorogation, both were legal, and both were in violation of the spirit of our customs.

          • There's an Einstein quote up a few threads you should read. Your style of repeating yourself over and over even when your argument is completely absurd is very annoying.

    • Conservatives themselves have suggested that Harper's brass knuckle tactics will disappear as long as he gets the majority he so covets. History has showcased other political bullies who made the same sort of promise. Appeasing them didn't work, and it won't work with Harper.

  32. Actually, I think a Conservative Majority would have the effect of putting an end to the endless campaigning in Parliament, the obfuscation, or secrecy andrew decries.
    I think Harper with a Majority would forget about the partisan games (for at least three years ) and simply focus on governing.

    • You're basing your thoughts on a supposition which has no evidence to support it. This is normally called wishful thinking.

      And you are doing so in spite of Andrew's other main point — what message does it send to *all* of the parties when we do not punish the type of behavior the CPC has engaged in.

    • Ever think about doing stand-up?

      • I, as a conservative fund raiser, can say confidently that they will maintain their campaign until the next election.

  33. The partisan bickering and fighting we've seen over the last 5 years can be attributed to the fact that the Liberal party hasn't yet gotten over the fact that Canadians didn't elect them.

    • I agree with both of your comments. I feel that Coyne is voting for the exact opposite of what he says he wants. I've never seen any indication that the Liberals would not perform the same "offenses against democracy". In fact, I do recall Coyne going bonkers when Paul Martin ignored a no-confidence vote the last time the Liberals were in power. I also recall numerous instances in the last parliament where the Liberals' behaviour in opposition was even more deplorable than the Tories behaviour in government.

      • "I also recall numerous instances in the last parliament where the Liberals' behaviour in opposition was even more deplorable than the Tories behaviour in government."

        Please share?
        (remember, the LAST parliament)

        • There are a million examples:
          -the NDP plotting to form a coalition government BEFORE the 2008 election took place
          -Dion explicitly ruling out a coalition during the 2008 campaign and then forming one two weeks after the election
          -the false communion wafer attack
          -the false attack regarding suuad mohamud
          -false accusations of torture against the government
          -false accusations on numerous other matters
          -using committees to launch partisan attacks rather than conduct government business
          -voting the government in contempt for differences of opinion in accounting procedures
          -shameless pursuit of power by threatening no confidence votes on false pretenses (eg voting no confidence because the government will not raise EI benefits)
          -using private members' bills to force the government's hand on spending matters (a violation of parliamentary rules), as for instance on the Kyoto accord (and there were other occasions as well)
          -refusing to show up for votes in the house (the Liberals actually LEFT the house on numerous occasions to AVOID votes)
          -forcing a whip on votes for private members bills (against parliamentary custom in Canada), Ignatieff did this on the gun registry vote
          -attacking the government for things which the opposition voted in FAVOUR of (eg the corporate tax reductions)

          etc etc

    • You know what I'm hearing?

      "Awwww mom he/she started it!"

      I'm not impressed with the lot of them, but trying to pretend that Harper only went so bloody nasty because he was somehow bullied into it, is utterly ridiculous.

      You don't stage an endless media war to destroy the image of your main opponent, and then try to claim innocent.

      Are you in denial or something?

  34. I am rather disappointed with the conservatives, and the brutalizing of the opposition has become rather counter-productive. As well, I agree that it has crossed from not respecting the opposition MP's (which I can tolerate) to not respecting the institutions of Parliament (which I shouldn't).

    Sure, I cheered it on in the beginning, memories fresh of growing up with people denouncing my kith and kin as being extremists, racists, ignorant, uneducated, and bigoted. It was cathartic having been marginalized and derided for so long to finally able to give some of the abuse back. But in the end it has to be put away and you have to make peace with the people you hate. The Liberals and the NDP never rebuilt their blue collar and rural base because they also refuse to reach out to the people they despise and so have been kept from power. If the Conservatives can't reach out and mend fences with those they dislike, they will never be rewarded with power either.

    But I have to admit it is too late for me. I will never vote for the NDP or the Liberal party, because the bridges have been permanently and forever burnt. The smear campaigns of the 90's against an entire demographic of Canada because they decided to vote for the Reform party. The support of the Canadian Wheat Board over farmers who simply want to sell wheat and malt barley like they sell all their other crops, merely because of the perception of the intellectual superiority of bureaucrats over farmers themselves. The continued exploitation of Alberta for its money, but the demonization of Alberta for how it earns its money along with the casual acceptance of the fact that its right to ruin Alberta's economic interests if it helps other regions. The statement that people who have religious values aren't allowed to express those values politically, or else they are betraying democracy.

    No, the left made it personal first when they demonized people for daring to build a party that expressed their political needs and desires. I haven't got the forgiveness in me to do it.

    • You might want to reread that comment. It went from wise and mature to bitter and hateful so slowly, I almost didn't notice until I got to the end.

      I respect the insight of first guy, but just feel sympathy for the second.

      All issues can be worked out if we can let go of past inequities.

      • I appreciate the sympathy.

        But to let go of the past inequities, the other person has to be willing to change. If you were an MP, would you vote to make the Canadian Wheat Board voluntary? To let farmers vote with their feet to escape a corrupt and unnecessary organization which costs them money? Or would you assume that farmers need the hand of pseudo-public servants to have a monopoly control on marketing their grain, because farmers are unable to determine their own economic interests? Or more cynically, would you vote against making the wheat board voluntary merely to preserve pseudo-public service jobs in Winnipeg and because your party leader says so?

        It is such a minor issue, one of absolutely no importance to urban voters in the slightest. A day for you after the Wheat Board would be exactly the same as the day before. But it stays in place because of bigotry and contempt.

        How can we work out our issues if that's the relationship we have?

        • Yanni: "I appreciate the sympathy. But to let go of the past inequities, the other person has to be willing to change."

          Naturally it's a two way street.

          I don't feel qualified to comment in detail on the Wheat Board, Dairy Board or any other such board.

          I will say this though: On one hand it seems like a good way for small producers to team up to negotiate against multi-national firms for the best price, but then it should never be something forced on a producer.

          Seems to me it should be an opt in or opt out deal.

          Beyond that my ignorance overwhelms my ability to debate it.

          • That's all you really need to know. So if you were an MP, would you vote to allow a voluntary CWB?

          • As I said, I can't understand why it isn't already voluntary. It's pretty darn fascist to force people into what is essentially a union. And I say that despite having a favourable opinion on unions in general.

            So I guess that's a long winded way of saying yes. LOL

        • I the Liberals form the government, they plan to help the west even more, with their carbon tax.

      • All issues can be worked out if we can let go of past inequities

        Depends on whose issues you're speaking of, that of western Canadian Conservative supporters, or NDP and Liberal supporters based in central Canada.

      • Also, the real reason you liked the first paragraph is because I agreed with you. That's the only reason you found it insightful. I have strong doubts that you think anything has to change for those who are left of center.

        I've never met anybody left of center who thinks they have anything to learn from a guy like me. They are the most progressive people in society after all, and those who think differently than them are regressive. They never have to learn from anyone about how to think or act.

        • No actually I was referring to: "But in the end it has to be put away and you have to make peace with the people you hate."

          It's true, insightful and will get one further in life then any host of negative comments or angry feelings.

          I would suggest that your stereotyping of what you thought was my position was, is no better than the stereotyping you've seen about what you consider your position to be.

          I grew up in Trenton Ontario. I'm the first person in our family to get a University degree, and proud of it.

          None of that makes me a lefty or any other damn label. I'm a person, and I'll vote for the party with the best ideas whose given me a reason to believe they're halfway honest and halfway competent and wholly earnest about respecting the people.

          This time that's Liberal, like it or lump it, because I don't think Layton has a cabinet ready, and clearly one man can't do that job alone.

    • Yanni you should get over it for your own good. On one hand, I can empathize. I feel disenfranchised by Harper who seems to hate anyone who is either big or small l liberal and I imagine he would likely be happier if we were all disappeared. However, whenever Harper is gone, if there is a new CPC leader who focuses more on what he wants than what or who he doesn't like, I'm certainly not going to continue hold it against the party that they once had a leader who divided Canadians.

      Mixing politics and religion is not good though. Politicians using religion to get votes is really distasteful.

  35. Good writing, AC, but by Tuesday this may be re-read as a great eulogy to the Liberal Party of Canada.

  36. Repost from Larry Rochette from CRUSH FB wall:
    ADSAM was always peanuts. ADSAM was for $2 million. Then commission to investigate ADSCAM cost $14 million DOH!!! as Homer would say.

    The real facts of Ad-Scam Harper doesn't want you to know

    The testimony that triggered the 2005 opposition siege of Martin's minority government did not involve the Liberal leader or his ministers directly.

    It surfaced as the result of an inquiry set in motion by the prime minister himself and only a few months before its definitive conclusions were scheduled to be delivered to the public.

    • "The real facts of Ad-Scam Harper doesn't want you to know" –
      If the Libs were not responsible for Adscam, maybe it was Mike Harris or George Bush
      Give me a break

  37. A thoughtful analysis and explanation.

    But I wonder about your statements on corporate taxes. I haven't looked into this in any great detail, but the reports I did look at made sense to me — the ones which showed that the cuts over the last few years did not result in the job creation and expansion one hoped for and that some of those cuts just went to companies paying more taxes to the US (for the ones who are liable for both Canadian and US taxes).

    • Over the past decade or so corporate tax rates have been decreased consistently and dramatically. Over the same period large corporations have accumulated roughly $80 billion in retained earnings mostly in the form of cash reserves. Given this fact it is very hard to argue that lower taxes result in corporate investment to achieve economic productivity or job creation.

  38. Dear Mr. Coyne,

    I completely respect you for holding the Harper government accountable for its many misdeeds (unlike the editorial board of the #globeandfail). As you say, if we don't send a message that undemocratic and unethical behaviour on the part of our government is unacceptable, then future governments may assume that it is acceptable.

    On ethics, whatever the Liberals may have done in decades past, it pales in comparison to what the Cons have done in only five years. One of the biggest difference is the Liberals did not dodge accountability. Martin himself ordered the inquiry into adscam and the culprits faced the consequences. I have yet to see the Cons face accountability on anything.

    • If Liberals are such great defenders of democracy, why didn't Chretian do it?

  39. If you are caught between voting for the party you truly want, and the choices to win in your riding, Pair Vote can help. http://www.pairvote.ca – deadline to swap is Sat, 6 pm EST.

    • With the NDP leading the Libs in most polls now, how's Pair Vote working out for you Libs.

  40. On the economy, I won't argue with your view of it, which is more to the right than mine. But I do have to take issue with "their deft handling of the banking crisis." As no less than The Economist said: "Much of the country's resilience stems from policies—such as bank regulation and sound public finances—WHICH PREDATE MR. HARPER." [my emphasis] It is Martin and Chrétien who refused to deregulate the banks and let them merge. The Cons pushed for deregulation. Had they had their way, our financial industry would've collapsed. What Harper is good at is taking credit for it.

    • BINGO!

      Basically anything good about federal government economic policy over the past twenty years was set by Paul Martin.

      The history books will undoubtedly give him far more respect than any he got as Prime Minister.

      Think of it, being disliked because you actually considered the issues before acting. That man showed more respect for democracy than any PM I've seen in thirty years.

      Mr. Dithers indeed. Sheesh.

      • Yep, if Paul Martin was running for MP in my constituency, I would probably cast a vote for him.

    • If the banks are in control, and Harper can not take credit for our present strong economic position, maybe you can explain why the banks have abandoned Ontario, and hung Dalton out to dry
      I guess you will inform me that it's not Dalton's fault and probably blame Mike Harris who only left 8 years ago.
      Or maybe blame the next leader of the Liberal party, Bob Rae.
      Wait a minute is Rae a Liberal or NDP?

  41. As for the Liberals needing to prove their "fiscal conservative" credentials, their record speaks for itself. They handed Harper a $13 billion surplus which he squandered and then racked up a $56 billion deficit. The Harper government undid in three years all the paying down of the debt which the Liberals had done in the previous eight years. "fiscal conservative" is a misnomer. Most people are now saying "fiscally responsible" because in the past two decades it is Liberal/Democrat governments who have paid down the debt, and Conservative/Republican governments who have racked up record deficits.

    I would trust the Liberals with both the economy and our democracy far more than I would the Cons, and I speak as a lifetime supporter of the NDP.

    • You mean like the Liberals in Ontario, who are doing such a wonderful job?
      The same Liberals who want to cut corporate taxes to create jobs.

  42. Andrew draws the wrong conclusion. Canada has a problem with democracy, because of the Liberals. The solution to the problem is not more of the cause.

    The rallying cry of the Liberal and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media is that the other guys are unfit to govern (NDP) or unworthy to govern (CPC), when it is really the Liberals that are unfit and unworthy Same old arrogant, central Canadian elitist crapola.

    • So you're saying the Liberals forced the PM to muzzle his own MPs and prevent Parliament from receiving the documents it demanded.

      You're saying the Liberals forced the CPC to tax income trusts, appoint Fortier to senate and cabinet, and give away a billion dollars to the american lumber industry.


      • Muzzling MP's and preventing Parliament from seeing documents are incidents that are typically viewed through a partisan lense. Many feel that the Committee's demands for documents went well beyond what is normally requested or expected, and that this was due to obstructionist tactics on the part of Liberals (NDP/Bloc) The Committee system was hyjacked by the Opposition and ended up not investigating actual issues/concerns, but attempting to undermine the government. Why else do we investigate someone who did not even get any money. Why instead of looking at whether or not Karios desered to get funded did we focus narrowly on "who notted the not on an internal document" — see: http://tinyurl.com/3btyler .
        Income Trusts, etc. were political decisions that many supported — Forier is a non-issue, non-story. It is all political haymaking and smears. The Liberals have contributed greatly to the disfuctionality of the recent Minority Parliaments. And this will be the behaviour that will be rewarded by Andrew and I presume yourself.

        • So you're of the argument that the motivations of the parties in the house makes a difference as to whether the demands of the house should be listened to?

          You really want to run with that come the next non-conservative minority?

          I know Fortier is a non-story. Does that make it right? Or are you one of those people with the view of "So long as I don't get punished, it must be fine."

          Personally, I feel we should hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than that.

  43. Gotta raise one point as devil's advocate here – how much of the Harper government's behaviour these last five years has been a 'battening down of the hatches' and/or pragmatic compromises due to the unique pressure on a minority government?

    Also, don't forget that for years, the Reform / Alliance movement was prone to having itself defined by its opponents in media and politics by frequent misquoting (and a brilliantly organized Liberal press strategy). The bitter lesson Harper walked away with from that period was to restrict all communication to a bare minimum and to centralize decision making. As much as I don't like it, I can't fault them for being so paranoid today.

    I think that the true test of the Tories' mettle will come with a majority government – where they don't have to pander to the other parties, and can set their own agenda. I'm willing to risk four years of that to see they can do without the barriers they've had in front of them for the past five years.

    • Look at what they've done in areas where the minority doesn't matter.
      Look at Rights & Democracy.
      Look at lying about the auditor general's report.
      Look at keeping information from parliament that parliament demanded.

      That last one in particular.. think hard on it.. they went directly against what would have been easiest in a minority
      situation, and would have been the correct action in either majority or minority situation.

      So what on earth makes you think they'll become *less* of that should they have a majority? Serious question. What reasoning do you have that makes you think they'll be more likely to give parliament the documents it wants to be able to properly evaluate legislation and budgets if they have a majority and don't even have to withstand requests to the speaker to evaluate their actions?

  44. From an average voter who doesn't have the benefit of studying government day in and day out as part of my job, thank you so much for this detailed and reasoned analysis.

  45. >>The decline of democratic politics may have begun under the Liberals, but it has continued under the Tories. And it will accelerate if there is no price to be paid at the ballot box for such behavior.<<

    Andrew makes an assumption that punishing political parties actually causes them to see the light. The Tories were annihilated once upon a time and now they're the current government. The Liberals got their butts handed to them by Mulroney's Conservatives not once, but twice, yet corruption and the concentration of power in the PMO continued under Mr. Chretien. Sorry, Andrew, it's a thin argument – though I respect your right to make it. Essentially you want voters to spank the Tories by endorsing the Liberals.

    Perhaps the electorate is plain fed up and this election is a referendum on the entire political class in Ottawa. Mr. Layton, who is by no means a saint in the hyper partisan BS that has infected Ottawa this past decade, still comes to the table with the cleanest hands. This is a protest vote and the electorate is 100% right to support the NDP – I am entirely confident the electorate will one day regret their support for the Dippers, but the electorate is ALWAYS right – even when it's wrong.

    • Cleanest hands because he hasn't done anything.

  46. I often disagree with Andrew Coyne – but he is the most honest conservative journalist out there. The fact that he understands the importance of respect for democracy, as a stong conservative leaves me feeling grateful – governments come and go – but the parliamentary system needs to be respected. Otherwise there s total room for it to be turned into a dictatorship.

    • That has me thinking… conservatives in the traditional sense respect institutions and traditions, so what to make of Harper, then?

      New Liberal attack ad:

      "Steven Harper. Not a Conservative."

      Then witness heads explode. :)

    • I think you meant Liberal journalist.
      Must have been a typo

  47. A very well-written piece. I may disagree with your decision, but your arguments were cogent and well-presented nonetheless. We should all endeavour to be more Coyne-like, regardless of our political proclivities.

    • Yes, I feel the same way. I disagree with Coyne too but he's certainly explained his position.

  48. "Since you didn't support the coalition"

    Perhaps, but he does support the institution that would have allowed the coalition to happen. The current PM subverted the process, and has thumbed his nose at most every rule of parliament, from committee subpeonas to contempt findings.

    And nobody will propose practical changes if they don't have to. A spanking might remind the, all that they need to.

    • It's questionable that proroguing in that specific circumstance was a subversion, rather than the best possible outcome. All the Liberals had to do was continue supporting a coalition for another month. I think it was fair to see if they could pass that humble test.

  49. Coyne has argued well, but it is clear that under different leadership his vote would more likely go Conservative. However, I agree with the general sentiment, that Canada would be better off if more people applied logic and wisdom to their voting choice – whether they tend to lean right, left, center or somewhere else.

    • In Canada, we spell the word "centre."

      • Depends on what part of Canada.

      • Actually, "center" refers to the middle point of something, while "centre" refers to a place, such as "The Centre for Applied Science" or something like that. That's typically how it's meant to be used in Canada. So for the political middle point, it would be "center", while an institution for studying politics would be "The Centre for the Study of Politics".

  50. Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. I am a little concerned to be reaching a conclusion similar to Coyne's for similar reasons.

  52. Two words
    NO WAY!

  53. Well you might be the only one Andrew.

  54. Remember the old quote, "I may disagree with what you're saying, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

    Mr. Harper didn't prorogue to avoid a coalition. He prorogued to avoid a confidence vote. That it may have come to a coalition or an election after that is immaterial. What he subverted was the ability of Parliament to express confidence in who was leading it. And that is what Coyne is saying must be paid back.

    • He delayed the confidence vote. If he'd called an election, which he said was his preference (as it was King's lo these many years gone by), that would have been avoiding a confidence vote. Prorogation was a decent compromise in the peculiar circumstances of that particular week.

      • Prorogation was used to muzzle parliament.

        You're fine that the governing party can choose to muzzle parliament whenever they start saying something that the PM doesn't like it seems.

        I'm not.

        • Who is proposing to change that?

  55. Andrew what an incredibly thoughtful and insightful article. One major critique only: You give a slight edge to the Conservatives on the economy over the Liberals primarily based on some of their recent small steps while noting that the Liberals do plan to spend more and tax more, albeit in an inconsequential way.

    I give the economic edge to the Liberals and here's why:

    (1) The sector-boosting strategy will not materially impact the economy and won't cost that much – while I think it's a stupid idea too, it's a fairly innocuous one.

    (2) The Conservatives have a TERRIBLE track record on the more material aspects of the economy. During the good times their spending increases were much too high.

    (3) The Conservatives have been disingenuous on economic impact of their primary policy planks. You level a criticism at the Liberals on their Corporate tax accounting but don't level the same criticism at the Conservatives. The Conservatives have clearly underestimated the costs of the prisons and fighter jets on a scale much larger than the proposed increases to spending planned by the Liberals.

    I believe your economic assessment that gave the Conservatives the edge comes from giving too much credit to the positive impacts of their choices and too much confidence that they will manage spending when the past suggests they have absolutely no ability or willingness to make tough choices.

  56. The first paragraph is very insightful…but kind of implies the media ought to shift how they cover politics in Canada….doesn't it?

    • JMHO but some of the Canadian media coverage on Harper was borderline Obama and the "birthers" reporting.

      • Oh yeah? Which parts?

      • "Obama: Just Visiting"

        "Obama: Intellectual Elitist"

        "Obama: He Didn't Come Back For You"

  57. Cancel my subscription to MacLeans. What a long slow slide into liberal-dom since Steyn got turfed and Coyne was brought on board.

    I had a long argument with my brother this past weekend when I claimed that Andrew Coyne was a liberal. He thought my idea of conservative must be neo-Tea Party. I said no, Coyne has been co-opted by the big-government-is-a-fact-of-life brigade, and there are several lines in this article that suggest that is the truth. And now he makes it official with proclamations of love for the Libs, and the fantasy(!!!) that the Liberals, for God's sake, might restore some democracy to parliament. What utter rubbish! For shame…

    Coyne, Wells, Potter et al, all worthless leftist shills. Sayonara MacLeans.

    • You think Coyne and Wells are leftists??

      Man, you see the world through a narrow lens. You are practically wearing a burka.

      • I see what I read and hear. Glowing articles about Ignatieff and company from Wells, a former Young Liberal btw, and Coyne has basically said and written more times than I can count that we're all here to service our great social services and that economic output is for that purpose. That is a left wing premise, that our country is defined by our government services. He's conceded that big government is here to stay and should be a part of our lives. I don't accept that premise. Hence I can never vote for a party that proposes expanding the scope of government. Granted, the Conservatives are hardly angels on this front, but at least the growth of government will be slowed and not accelerated as it will be when we have a "accord" government at the end of this year.

        And the burka comment? I'm not a Muslim woman. And if I were I would definitely be taking your comment to the Human Rights Commission so I could get my $22k of compensation for hurt feelings. Another wonderful leftist construct.

        • And if Coyne is co-opted by the big-government-is-a-fact-of-life brigade "what you read" would seem to consist exclusively of the final paragraphs of things. But as long as it gives you something to complain about, i guess that's enough. Wouldn't want to expose yourself to the shock of ideas you don't already agree with, I suppose.

        • "Relative to the growth in Canadian population under the Harper government, the federal public service grew by 7.8%."

          Taken from a post article in February

    • practicalities are ugly.

    • I hear the Globe and Mail may be looking for subscribers after their bone-headed, illogically-written endorsement of the Cons.

  58. Do listen to yourself. He had to keep his MPs quiet because he could get voted out. Are his MPs all that stupid? If that's the case, why on earth would we want more of them in majority control?

    And how, incidentally, did a minority government cause the Rights & Democracy fiasco? He had total control of who was appointed.

    How did a minority government force him to appoint Michael Fortier to Senate and Cabinet in direct opposition to what he said he'd do?

    How did a minority government force him to give away a billion dollars of our lumber industries money to their competitors in the US?

    How did a minority government force him to spend on gazebos? Or lie about what the auditor general said? Or about what the PBO said?

    And even if a minority government *did* force him to do all those things.. shouldn't there be some things that you just don't do even if it means taking a hit to your popularity?

    • The biggest one that they full executive power over is the Census. Spending more money to get less good information. It can only mean facts aren't wanted. Ideology is a pretty ugly thing.

      • I tend not to include the census in this particular list because, as boneheaded as the move is, there can be some argument made that it's an action the CPC constituents desired.

        • According to Tony "One Letter" Clement, at any rate.

    • 350 members of the press gallery looking for anything to report so they can feed 24 hour news channels and blogs leads to crap journalism, i.e. wafergate.

      Rights & Democracy were funding radical Palestinian NGOs Al-Haq and Al Mezan.

      Michael Fortier to Senate and Cabinet strengthend Montreal's regional representation and didn't change the Tories' plans for an elected senate.

      Liberals had over six years to do something about the softwood lumber treaty.

      Huntsville was to host the G8 and the G20 – security and logistics forced the G20 to Toronto in Sept. 2009 when Muskoka projects were already underway.

      Popularity has nothing to do with it – a minority government is always in a position of weakness and the fact Harper has the longest running one says it all.

      • Yes it does. How does that lessen what I said? It's pretty damn simple to keep your nose clean if you have a modicum of intelligence.

        You obviously have no clue what I'm referring to. Look up Paul Wells' series on it.

        Didn't change their plans? It only went directly against what Mr. Harper himself had been saying. 100% reversal on his first day of office. Basically, it was notice to Canada that nothing Mr. Harper says can be trusted.

        Yes, and they did what they SHOULD have.. they let it continue through the NAFTA process without paying off the competitors. You're actually trying to defend Harper's interference in the market here?

        Which is why they built Gazebos in places no person from the G8 or G20 was likely to ever go. Gotcha.

        And once again, shouldn't there be some things that you take the hit for?

  59. How many NDP MPs do you actually know anything about?

    • None, of course, but when has that ever stopped the establishment media from telling Canadians that the social democrats are “not ready to govern”?


      Baird vs Mulcair
      McKay vs Dewar
      Kenney vs Chow
      Oda (“not”!) vs Nash
      Guergis (for god’s sake) vs anyone

      Oh, yeah, the Tories were oh so ready to govern, but the NDP are clearly airheads, it’s just perennial common sense in the world inhabited by Coyne et al

  60. Andrew laments the decline of "democracy" but seems to accept the right of so-called democratic states to seize private property through taxation (by force of the courts and their bailiff enforcers if necessary) and distribute the spoils to buy off demographic sectors of populations so as to maintain their grip on power.

    Sure we can kick out the current set of bums but we replace them with another set of bums while the media spars over symptoms .

    Mainstream media has a role in initiating a real dialogue about the morality of the modern Western state that is based on coercion of its citizens. Until we do, the rest is all chit-chat.

    • they do a little of that. they also create laws and the courts you mention.

  61. That's very nice, dear. Now perhaps you could address what I said. How on earth can you claim it is the Liberals harming democracy given it was the CPC that has done the things I listed above?

    I'm hoping your argument is something more than "They didn't sit down and shut up like good Conservative supporters do!", because, well.. they're not conservative supporters. Kind of by definition. That's why they call them "the opposition".

    And seriously, the MSM never accepted the last two elections? Despite the overwhelming majority of media outlets endorsing the CPC? You do realize we're talking about reality, correct? Not just the voices in your head?

  62. Oy vey.

    This is all so terribly melodramatic. Suddenly, we all think this can be our George Washington moment and charge to the barracks of democracy!

    Beware folks who proclaim themselves Democracy's Lord Protectors.

    Consider MPs switching parties (Emerson). Coyne et al have long argued it should be banned further strengthening party leadership power and weakening the influence of riding citizens. I think on Emerson, Coyne's instincts are inherently tyrannical.

    Coyne is way to cavalier on the 2008 coalition crisis. Witness the Duceppe Layton debate going on right now. The price of having a 2008 coalition of left-wing parties would have been the break-up of Canada. The PM acted in the interests of the country. People who misdirect to the issue of constitutional legitimacy are the folks who have been killing democracy softly.

    Also: Fixed election dates? Fortier? These are such guargantuan non-issues that it crumbles the entire edifice to include them in a list of anti-democratic horrors.

    • they would be non-issues if they didn't exist amongst so many other horrors. patterns are important.

      • Not when you cherry pick data points to make a pattern you want to see. And that's what we have here. Cherry picking. Like patriotism, the defense of democracy in Canada is the refuge of scoundrels.

    • Consider MPs switching parties (Emerson). Coyne et al have long argued it should be banned further strengthening party leadership power and weakening the influence of riding citizens. I think on Emerson, Coyne's instincts are inherently tyrannical.

      The thing is, Harper himself ranted about this issue when Stronach crossed over, and promised that, if he was elected, anyone wanting to cross the floor to join his party would have to resign and run in byelection as a Conservative before being admitted to caucas. So Harper's first act as PM, therefore, was to break one of his promises.

      That's called setting the tone – and he has more than lived up to the tone he set that day.

  63. So I guess this means the CBC's political panel is all NDP and Liberal.

    Just as we suspected…….

  64. Coyne is a standard establishment Liberal just like fellow fuddy duddy, Jeffrey Simpson. They need a government party that validates their self-designated sense of superiority. Liberals specialize in seducing such narcissists.

    • or they call em as they see em

  65. Agree completely with hodgepodge. Very good read.

  66. Andrew, thank you for showing your work as you put effort into discharging your duties as a citizen.

    I share most of the thought processes you do. I want a small government doing as little damage as possible. I thought that was what we were getting when I voted CPC the last (two) time(s), and I would love to bring a few people up on fraud charges for that. But I don't see any better choice, and I am not comforted by your conclusion that the country can withstand the undeniable damage that will be caused by the alternate choice.

    Democracy has indeed suffered, too. But here again, we punished the Liberals not very long ago for serious transgressions. And courtesy and respect within Parliament? Ignatieff started off on an inspiring foot for all of one or two QP's before becoming a partisan poo-flinging ape like all the rest.

    I don't like any of the choices. But what really terrifies me is the dramatic ascent to alleged seriousness on the part of a seriously destructive party, many of whose candidates likely ended up on the list with zero expectation (or even desire?) to uproot themselves to Ottawa.

  67. Canadians, don't buy the FEAR…__ The New Democratic Party in the year 2011 are a CENTER-LEFT party, if you want to talk political spectrum. NOT an "EXTREME-LEFT", "FAR-LEFT", "SOCIALIST", 1902 un-democratic cut off your head if you don't comply, party…__ In the year 2011? in our DEMOCRATIC country? where the politicians are accountable to the PEOPLE?, NOT the other way around…(like Harper would have) The 1902 FEAR MONGERING catchphrases are just ridicules American style babble.__ The CENTER-left NDP will do whatever it takes to stay in power, no differently then ANY other political party, & WOW?! if they make mistakes? like EVERY other party in history?!, then VOTE them out. Back in the CONTEXT that these FEAR MONGERS are trying to use them in today?, they had NO VOTE.__ All I know is JACK is a SAINT compared to Harper. BY FAR the hardest working MP in Parliament for the PEOPLE, not to mention his team. The only thing any Canadian who cares about what's LEFT of Canada should FEAR is the Harper Regime.__ Anyone tells you different?, they are just trying to SCARE you into not voting for JACK, Boo!…

    • PERHAPS if you stopped TYPING IN ALL CAPS people would TAKE YOU more SERIOUSLY.

  68. Nicely put, Andrew. However, I do not agree with your conclusions. I think the "democratic deficit" issue has been much overblown. Perhaps more importantly, my view of the reason for it has to do more with the Liberals being such poor representatives in opposition. Their entire agenda has been to smear Harper with anything they could thing of — from investigating funding that never was given out (Jaffer) to the largely party-driven fiasco of the second prorogue (most of us understand that the first prorogue was highly unusual, but the second prorogue of three weeks would (and should) have been a non-issue as this type of thing is always done by governments. It was kept alive as a divisive issue by partisan politicking. The latest "contempt" charges is also partisan games playing. Anyone who understands the normal process for providing information to an opposition would realize that there Conservatives had met the normal standard of providing information. So much of the nastiness is directly result of the minority situation and not primarily a reflection of Conservative governance. The Liberals were deceptive and abusive in power — and cynical, irresponsible and downright vicious in Opposition. I will not be voting for them. Unfortunately, rather than encouraging democracy — your position will simply reinforce unscrupulous partisanship as a way to undermine whatever government is in power.

    • I disagree with a great deal of your post, but in this sea of "OMG Coyne is a Lieberal hack cancel my Maclean's subscription that I don't really have", I thank you for stating it in a civil conversational manner.

  69. The only thing we haven't tried in 2 decades is a Harper majority.

    Why would we want to?

    Most of the things he has done (Thwim lists a number of them elsewhere; I won't repeat) tht turm me off the most have nothing to do with being a minority government and are the kind of things that are likely to increase without the threat od a non-confidence vote hanging overhead.

    Simply put, Harper and his cronies can't be trusted.

    Put some new people in charge of their party & I'll seriously consider them. But God help this nation if Harper gets a majority…

    • A little bit melodramatic. Thats where you Liberals lose me. Argue the points, but saying "God help this nation" is just partisan rubbish. At the end of the Harper will have to answer to the electorate and he knows that. I don't think he'll do anything drastically different than the last 4 years, but he'll be able to move on things like senate reform that was being blocked by the Liberals and Bloc.____I think simply put Chretian, Ignatieff and his cronies can't be trusted any more, unless you have evidence to the contrary.

      • I don't think he'll do anything drastically different than the last 4 years


        That's what Canadians have a legitimate fear of.

      • Melodramatic? Well, maybe a bit. But I really think things will get much worse, rather than better, for democracy in this nation should we remove the fetters of minority government from Harper. I think he knows that the things he wants to do will cost him in the long run, and with five years under his belt already he probably can't hope for more than one more term – so he'll pull out the stops and not worry about the fallout.

        On a couple of your other points:

        "things like senate reform that was being blocked by the Liberals and Bloc." Senate reform requires constitutional change – which requires the cooperation of the provinces. To my knowledge, he didn't even attempt this one – so how can you blame other federal parties?

      • Pt 2:

        "Chretian, Ignatieff and his cronies " – granted, they trotted Chretien out the other day to try to shore up their sagging fortunes, but the man is long retired and most of his cronies are gone; Ignatieff leads a different group of people. It's like saying "Manning, Harper and his cronies". Can we trust Ignatieff? I honestly don't know; we have to give him the reins in order to find out. But Harper is now a known quantity – and what we know is that he has only a nodding acquaintance with either honesty or honour.

        One last thing: "you Liberals" – while it's true I'm supporting them this time, I have voted PC in the past. My allegiance to the Liberals at present is more a reaction to Harper than any great affection for Ignatieff. I can't move far enough left to vote NDP/Green, so it's Liberals or nothing. Once Harper is gone, I'll re-evaluate.

  70. There is an unstated premise here that voids the entire argument: namely, that the Liberals have reformed. Every indicator from the reinstatement of the boys from Adscam to rolling out Chretien when the going got tough establishes precisely the opposite. They will no more reverse their use of Parliament as a rubber stamp when in power than pigs can fly.
    Give them 40 years in the wilderness, and rebuilding from the bottom up, and they might be fit to govern. Not today. As for the economy, they are fiscally responsible only when under close scrutiny by the IMF. See their platform and wishlist for confirmation.

  71. Andrew will vote Liberal to restore democracy and he will not get it. the Liberals in power were just as bad, if not worse, and only got away with it because of their majorities. Andrew forgets that Martin, in the recent Liberal minority, actually ignored for over a week a vote that stated lack of confidence in his government, and only "regained" the confidence by buying the support of his new minister of complex files. Does Belinda Stronach's purchase really come in below Emerson and Fortier on the stinks-to-high-heaven scale? Did Andrew forget that? Maybe not, but if he thinks the Liberals will restore democracy he is sadly misjudging the situation. So Andrew will cut of his nose to spite his face, I think, only the face won't terribly care.

  72. He did pass the confidence vote, shortly after the House resumed. If the House has confidence in you at the end of November and has confidence in you at the beginning of January, the fact that it might have lost confidence in you one day in December is a pretty flimsy "attack on democracy". As you've said yourself many times, if there was going to be a coalition, we would have had one by now. I'm disappointed that Andrew has given so much weight to what was said publicly rather than what most likely was said privately by Ignatieff and other prominent Liberals that informed the GG's decision.

  73. Andrew Coyne for Prime Minister!

    Mr. Coyne when – please make it when and not if – you run for office, even if you have to create the Andrew Coyne Party of Canada to do it, please remember send me a membership and donation form.

    • Only if Wells writes his speeches. AC is clueless with satire…[just kidding…but i do love satire…maybe Mercer could help out?]

  74. Well done. The Globe is being blasted unmercifully for their wandering, pandering
    "hold their nose" endorsement of Harper,Clement, Baird, Oda,Fantino ,Rait,et al.

  75. But let's not forget, the Liberals had 9 consecutive balanced/surplus budgets after fixing the $42 billion deficit left them by the previous conservative government. Liberals left the Conservatives a $13 billion surplus and a very strong fiscal and economic base.

    Hard to imagine why Coyne thinks the Conservatives are better on the economy!

    • I do wish Andrew Coyne — or someone! — would answer this very significant question….

  76. I wonder how many endorsements we're going to hear that are along the same lines as this… half-hearted. The Globe seemed half-hearted. The Economist seemed half-hearted. This one seemed half-hearted.

    I think, on the 'democracy' file, Harper has been positively dreadful. Just like those who came before. And, if the Liberals did replace Harper, I'm confident we'd get more the same (because, as Coyne points out, other than vague promises the Liberals aren't promising to do anything differently, and their own record is piss-poor.)

    I'm looking forward to a major newspaper, columnist, etc., saying 'none of the above.' What we've seen happening to parliament for the past few decades is horsesh*t. Call it for what it is. Demand better. We want competent government. We want a government that isn't going to take democratic short cuts. Why the hell should we have to choose one or the other?

    I'm voting for the best candidate in my riding. But if I were voting based on national campaigns, platforms or performance, I'd decline my ballot. The horsesh*t continues.

    Get that new party fired up, Coyne.

    • I'd love to see a paper endorse the No Incumbents! strategy.

      "We can't, in good conscience, endorse anybody this election — none of them deserve it. So instead we are endorsing every candidate who is not already in office. Re-elect nobody"

  77. Sadly, being from Alberta, voting for a Liberal would be like an Israeli voting for Hamas.

    I can't vote for a party that has used Alberta as a bogey man to scare people into voting for them. You know, because we're all bigoted angry cowboys just waiting to turn Canada into the 51st State.

    I just hope the Rhino party is running a candidate in Calgary SW.

    • Sadly, there are no Rhino candidates out west this time. I'm not even sure if the neo-rhinos out in Quebec are running many.

      That said, are there alternative candidates? Even if they're guaranteed losers (and, let's face it, in Calgary that's pretty much every other party anyway) putting a vote toward someone other than the CPC sends a message. Even if the CPC candidate gets elected (which, in Calgary SW, Mr. Harper undoubtedly will) having his vote totals drop significantly will remind him that he needs to pay attention.

      • My wife tries to convince me to vote green, however that would be like voting to have my job eliminated. I may be an ignorant cowboy, but I'm not that stupid.

        • Only if you're working for one of the companies, like Suncor, that's heavily invested into the oilsands.

          If you're not, Greens will probably help you by hindering your competition.

          • right, because chasing suncor away from alberta won't adversely effect any other jobs at all, it's not as if any other small employers or contractors or service providers benefit form suncor being there or anything.

          • Please. You really think they'd be able to chase Suncor away?

            Take a look at Suncor's quarterlies. The only thing that'd chase Suncor away from the oilsands is a threat to shoot the top execs.. and even then the shareholders would sue to keep them in.

  78. Andrew, i can't argue with a lot of what you say although I think there are mitigating circumstances I think you discount too much. My main disagreement however is that you underestimate the economic impact of a shift to the left led by JL. There will be capital flight, there will be tax increases, there will be a drastic increase in government meddling in the lives of canadians and the nanny state, which you frequently and competently eviscerate from time to time, will grow. Yes I know you don't think the Liberals are as bad as the tories, you may be right. but you're thinking will lead to unintended consequences if followed by too many. God help us if JL gets anywhere near the purse, the unions and the wacko left greens will yank his chain hard, not to mention what the political sluts in PQ will do. The effects, contrary to the esteemed Mr. Smith's thinking will damage the canadian economy for years to come.

  79. The board is stronger when all the farmers are part of it.

    The majority of farmers want it to be stronger. They vote to keep all farmers a part of it. All farmers, even those that think they might do better on their own, thus are kept a part of it.

    Pretty simple really. The fact that there are some malcontents doesn't at all negate the fact that it's around because farmers keep saying they want it. Convince a majority of the farmers that they can do better without it, and it will go away.

    As for your father's tale, perhaps he wasn't seeing what was actually happening. Or maybe he was. If so, perhaps you need to invest in a camera and a telephone that can reach the media. They love juicy stories of corruption — especially with video evidence.

    • As of lately, the Canadian wheat production is 4% of world wheat production and it's exports are around 2.7% of wheat production. It only accounts for about 13.5% of today's wheat trade and that includes exports from eastern Canada not under the iron fist of the CWB. Most economists agree that in order have a monopoly and exert influence over the market, you must have a 25% or higher market share of production to exert premiums due to market power. The CWB hasn't had this since the 1960s. World wheat production have trended higher over the past ten years while wheat production in Canada has stagnated and dwindled in the same period.

      • Thanks for this. I've been waiting for ages for such clarifiction to make it through the roar of gnashing teeth which usually accompanies the east/west discussion. I'm from Quebec, although now in Ontario–but one never really leaves– and understand the nuances of the uproar from that part of the country. But it feels like a long way from the west and apart from the word "NEP" flung out in anger, it's been difficult to catch an explanation for the discontent which I can really get. One thing good (for my understanding ) about this election is that glimmers of such messages have appeared –very occasionally–in the comments.
        Enough at least to give me some kind of platform to work from. Your message above has contributed, so again, thanks. Mr. Harper's unintended gift to us, perhaps.

  80. I was wrong about you, Coyne. I apologize.

  81. Do you seriously expect me to conduct a serious debate with someone who says "are you in denial" and "awww mom he/she started it"? LOL

    • Pretty sure no one here expects a serious debate from the likes of you.

      • I'm actually in the process of debating this issue with several (respectful) individuals. Go back to your Liberal war-room and have yourself a witch-burning with your friend Phil.

        • Ass

  82. I feel the same way.

    The Conservatives had every opportunity to get my vote but failed miserably.

  83. I'm sure the CBC apparachniks will be pleased to hear you support their Liberals … but what about crazed Russian Iggy telling the Toronto Star editorial board that Tory Canadians can "go to hell". Why do you not examine the character issues that condemn Ignatieff from being the PM of Canada and instead you cast a blind eye to his sordid political record pre-2005???

    People like you in the Canadian media scare me…!!!

    • "Apparatchiks". Try to spell your insults correctly, so that only the content of your comments reflect poorly upon you, and not the form as well.

      • OoOoOoOoh .. Ochin horosho …. pardon my Russian …. –chniks — chiks … whatever …LOL

  84. The partisan hacking by the Liberals was just as much of a cause of prorogations than anything else, and I expect a Conservative majority will remove most bickering without the huge spending of the Libs and the loss of jobs from corp taxes. That's why I voted Conservative.

  85. My MP happens to be Megan Leslie, a fantastic NDP MP, and it will be a pleasure to vote for her (though I didn't last time).

  86. I'll take my "chances" with "democracy eroding" before any sort of cap and trade policy that becomes not just another tax burden… but a tax burden where the money might as well be burnt.

  87. Go Andrew!!!

  88. Well, I am a big math fan but this is politics. If a majority is the goal, go out and earn the support of enough voters to get one. Don't sit around complaining that there is an obstacle in your way.

    I don't see that majorities are a necessity. Voters can choose whatever MP they like. The job of all MP's is to work together and respect the choices made by Canadian voters.

    Unfortunately too many MP's couldn't cooperate or compromise to save their life.

    • Unfortunately too many MP's couldn't cooperate or compromise to save their life.

      Yes. I can agree with that.

      And yes, the BQ votes were there to be taken. It just seems that the first person to succeed in taking them (Layton) did so by promising the same things as the BQ: namely to ban English in federal workplaces, to reopen the constitution, and so on. If only there were another way to win those votes.

      • That would require leadership.

        • 60 years of federal leaders have failed to satisfy Quebec separatists.

  89. Andrew Coyne, you've sold your soul to Macleans.

    • wtf?

    • Prairieanne, is it not equally possible you've sold your mind to the CPC?

      • Yes, I'm a staunch supporter of the CPC, but Andrew's support of Ignatieff doesn't make sense. Wait and see what lies ahead with the NDP and Liberals trying to run the show. I became a CPC supporter because of the negative members of the Liberal party. Stephen Harper is not the brute–opposition members like Wayne Easter, Marlene Jennings, and the NDP's Pat Martin are the stupid brutes.

  90. Not to mention Conservative opposition spurring them on….kind of like Liberal opposition spurring on this last government toward deficit….

  91. Cross-country comparisons are difficult because, while they may have cameras, they may not have many of the other factors that define our parliament. I should have clarified that it is the combination of Westminster rules and the reality we face that make things raucous.

    As for contribution restrictions, oh sweet naive YYZ. There is a reason Harper mails out fundraising letters after he gives a partisan speech about how Liberals plan to block out the moon once a month. The kind of people who donate are not centrists, nor are they diffuse groups of average citizens. They are very angry partisan types who type in ALL CAPS, usually mobilized by various organizations.

    Centrist bridge-builders are not going to get donations in that kind of environment. Don't believe me? Look at the fundraising record of the PC's in the 2000s – they were so broke they had to merge. Look at the Liberals since 2003 – the NDP raised about as much money with a similarly sized base. The choice is not between a corporate (or union) -run democracy and a citizen democracy. Its between a corporate-run democracy and an angry citizen democracy motivated by the sounds of a the world's smallest thousand violins.

    I agree that actors have agency – we can all make choices. I simply think that there is a long-term pattern here of nice guys not doing very well. Harper, Chretien, Bouchard and for a time Duceppe flourished, while nice guys like Manning, Clark, Dion and Ignatieff failed. Maybe some day angels will run parliament (they'd have to be in both government and opposition), but until that time I think this is a job for a mechanic not a messiah.

    • "…Its between a corporate-run democracy and an angry citizen democracy motivated by the sounds of a the world's smallest thousand violins…" wow, well said.

  92. As a first time voter, this appears to be a riveting, albeit confusing time to take an intrest in politics. So, not unlike anyone else I have been looking into parties that would benifit myself and the country my generation will be inheriting. So like Mr. Coyne mentioned above, I would like to ask other readers/the public a question that will be pivital in making my decision.

    1.) As a first year university student entering into adult life in a tough economy, which party would specifically benifit my age group?

    • I challenge your premise, why should your age group in particular expect treatment that guarantees your vote?

      • Why should any ordinary Canadian ignore facets of this election that specifically pertain to their life circumstances?

    • If I were you I would vote Conservatives so there is a future economy for you to support. With the Liberals and NDP, there is no guarantee of that, which means no jobs. You will learn as you mature, that the economy is the foundation of everything, every social program, etc. Without a good economy everything fails. Look at Greece, Portugal, Iceland, UK, etc. You'll see why socialism doesn't work in the long run. Your best bet is to look after yourself as best you can with a good job.

    • You should probably vote for anybody but the Conservatives. We've seen how they treat inquisitive youth in this election. Don't expect that to change. Go to http://www.projectdemocracy.ca and see which way the wind is blowing in your riding. Vote for the best person who isn't a Conservative. The economy is going to be shaky for years no matter who gets in but the Harper Conservative party is ruled by ideology which is almost the opposite of common sense, so they could easily make things worse for everybody.

      Most important of all is to get out and actually vote!!

  93. Um, you do realize that not only did the Globe and Mail endorse the Stephen Harper-led Conservatives today, but they also did so in 2006 and 2008? So, yeah, not so sure the MSM have never accepted the last two elections. They were complicit in helping the Conservatives win power.

  94. Wrong vote for the future of our country

  95. Joe Clark and many other former PC's would agree with this.
    Contempt of Parliament & the disregard of democratic principles is not to be ignored.

  96. Seems to me the polls are saying much the same thing but taking it the next step to the NDP perhaps in the hope that a new face with positive perspective will bring real reform. There is fear of a hidden Tory agenda, but mostly the electorate is horrified by the arrogant, mean spirited and untruthful face that has become a part of governance … these attitudes and tactics are simply unCanadianand make us cringe with discomfort.
    The knock against the NDP seems unfair and too much like the negative, fear mongering spin we're becoming so used to from the pols. There is not a better, harder working or more sincere party in opposition and Layton as opposition leader is a first rate idea. Otherwise I'd be pleased to see Layton have a go governing Canada in a minority situation. Most of the best political ideas that make Canada what it is came from the NDP and its predecessor and their kind have succeeded quite nicely in other jurisdictions, foreign and domestic. So I say, lets tell the Grits and Tories that the ways things worked in the past is no longer acceptable, lets make the NDP either the first or second party in a minority and lets give Layton a try at the job of governing.

  97. What a GREAT column. I particularly enjoyed the first para. So the next time i get excercised at you for getting execised at something i disagree with i'll try and remember to look at the bigger picture…did i mention i hate your AC?
    Couldn't agree more with your take on the libs all round. On the issue of democratic accountability i thought MI was strong in the ED. But why the hell couldn't he then rear back and say: " So Mr H on that note my party proposes these radical reforms" – real ones like overturning a pms signing rights on nominee papers? Instead he coughed up weak sauce.
    Am i just naive here? MI is not the LPC. Is it then possible the party would not go for real reforms that would grab the publics attention, while hurting their short term interests? If so, it's a depressing outlook for the party that used to be bold.And used to find a way despite their many sins and transgressions to put the countries interest first – at least on the big questions.

  98. Mr Coyne, one assumes that you exposed your personal voting intentions in order to influence readers of your Macleans Magazine to vote the same way. If so, this may turn out to have been a misjudgement as your analysis is full of holes, IMHO. How can one take seriously your contention that the current government has governed in an undemocratic way compared with those which came before? They are managing to govern with a minority, against an utterly hostile opposition, for heaven's sake. (and the opposition parties are so hostile because, a) they cannot bear the reality that anyone respectable would have right-wingish views, and , b) the Liberal Party still has not adjusted to their diminished role). Included in the opposition of course are the great Ottawa bureaucracy and the great unwashed national press, both of which, with some exceptions one supposes, will have fought tooth and nail and dirty to get rid of Mr Harper and his government who have been making their cushy lives uncomfortable.

    • How can one take seriously your contention that the current government has governed in an undemocratic way compared with those which came before?

      Observation of history.

      How can anyone take seriously your contention that the first contempt of Parliament vote in Canada's history was just a temper tantrum against the bravery of the Harper Government, who valiantly stood alone against a conspiracy made up of the media, the civil service, Canada's largest cities, and every opposition party?

  99. Joe Clark and many other former PC's would agree with this.

    • Of course Joe Clark would agree with it. He is one very angry man who has never gotten over the amalgamation.

  100. Glad to see you are making the right decision, Andrew. The Liberals are not perfect and I want them to make some changes to the way they do things, but at least they are not betraying Canadian federalism by pandering to separatist votes in Quebec like the NDP is doing and calling for the abolition of the Clarity Act.

  101. I dismissed your comments when you dismissed the NDP outright and placed them within the same frame of the Green Party. If I want the Liberal message box, I'll visit the Liberal website and not Maclean's.

    The NDP have grown and matured in policy and capacity under Jack's leadership and have attracted the talent over the recent years that have made them the most effective opposition and a government in waiting. On the contrary the Liberals haven't even made the attempt to learn how to work as opposition choosing rather to trade on an established tattered brand. Their sense of entitlement is the same as what the Conservatives are now displaying and both will reap their just rewards from the Canadian public regardless of pundits that cannot move beyond the frames they helped established and continue to maintain.

  102. Toronto-centrism trumps all. Very sad.

    • Self-serving myopia and the tendency to read only the end of the article trumps all. Entirely expected.

  103. I used to like the NDP, but the reason I support the Liberals now is because of the NDP's betrayal of Canadians in this election by pandering to Quebec separatists to win votes. They want more language laws, and have totally ignored the rights of anglophones and racial minorities. And saying they want to abolish the Clarity Act was the final straw. That would mean separation could occur on a trick question with a fake majority of votes with no safeguards in place.

    • Bravo Maria for saying it as it is re: Layton. The problem is: The Federal Liberals in Quebeck not only support the language laws, they are the ones (to our utter dismay) that made sure these ethnic cleaninsing totally ILLEGAL discriminatory laws were enacted in the first place!! The Fed., Libs also DELIBERATELY LIED to and deliberately Deceived their majority win base (the Greater Mtl., voter that supported and trusted them for decades) the 2.5 Million English speaking Quebeckers because they continued to PROMISE us they would Abolish the disgusting, shameful language laws & gestapoish language police – asking us to be patient. 30 YEARS of Patience & trust – resulted in TOTAL BETRAYAL – and we Anglos & 'Autres" being Illegally SHUT OUT OF THE PARTY ALTOGETHER – and Our once proud Liberal Party being controlled and RULED by ex BLOC and so-called Nationalists!!! We have been muzzled and treated as if we Don't exist anymore!!! And are worth NOTHING other than contempt & derision – for daring to demand our Language & culture – our lives – our ability to WORK – not be erased!!! The Libs have made it crystal clear they will form a coaltion – just like Layton with the BLOC – and then ILLEGALLY overstep and abuse their powers to change OUR CONSTITUTION to kiss Duceppe's behind!!!! Getting into bed with the treasonous BLOC – for any reason whatsoever – is imo – beyond disgusting !! They should be FIRED for even thinking about legalizing Ethnic Cleansing into OUR Constitution – WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION – which we THE PEOPLE OF CANADA will NEVER ALLOW!! Quebeck BELONGS TO ALL CANADIANS!! It DOES NOT BELONG to a FRINGE GROUP of lunatics – traitors – that slide in – because of vote splitting!! They have NO BUSINESS being in OUR OTTAWA !! And for Iggy and Layton to be making secret backroom deals with them is in itself treason no? And why are our pretend journalists – so CONVENIENTLY SILENT about Canada's Greatest Shame?

    • Layton NDPs have a great platform, and Quebec has a great deal of influence in the outcome of a Canadian election, so I am pleased they have taken to Layton. Born and bred in Montreal, he is likely to be sensitive to conflicts between English- and French-speaking Canada, again something I am pleased about.

      Before you vote, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you inform yourself about the political party you are defending. PLEASE read a Harper Conservative political comic which contains valuable information:

      Which Canada will You Vote for?
      (French or English)

  104. I so agree. Andrew is rewarding nasty partisan behavior perpetrated by Liberals who could not cope with not being in power. The focus of the Parliamentary Committees has been absolutely outrageous, and no party comes out of this recent minority government looking good.

  105. I might have to, if I wake up one morning to a bizzaro world of Prime Minister Layton.

    PS. Jon Powers? That sounds like a porn name, like Dirk Diggler or Eric Everhard. Make up a better pseudonym.

    • "Marko Paranosic"? Ha! Doesn't he play for Arsenal? A guy at my office wears his jersey every Friday.

  106. 1 wafergate: according to CTV and NP writer Steve Janke, the Liberals were behind the whole thing: http://stevejanke.com/archives/290239.php
    2. If you actually paid attention to what Mohamud actually said in Kenya, which the government kept private for a long time for privacy concerns but the opposition had no trouble attacking the government anyway, you would see that foreign affairs acted with integrity and proper conduct
    3. yes, they accused the government of torture, on numerous occasions
    4. yes, but it's in the interest of the conservatives to make committees work, it's the opposition that tries to make the government look incompetent
    5. I've looked at the contempt issue closely, and I consider it to be a complete farce
    6. no, it's not par for the course to try to call an election on the level of EI benefits.
    7. If you're in the house of common, you vote. Period. Either you're for the bill or you're against it. Aren't we talking about democratic norms? If you're into playing games, then pull these "don't want to actively support or bring it down" schizophrenic games. Either you support the bill or you don't!
    8. "stealth" motion? It was a private member's bill, that very nearly passed! There was nothing stealth about it! And whipping votes on private member's bills is a violation of Canadian parliamentary customs, it's exactly the kind of thing Coyne is talking about, allowing democracy to prevail.
    9. either you're in favour of something or you're not. Being on both sides of the fence are just partisan games, and once again, that's exactly the kind of thing Coyne is talking about.

    Of course you find the list weak. I'd probably say the same about your list of Conservative faux-pas, if you have one. I reiterate my point that the Liberals are no better than the Conservatives.

  107. AC –
    Perhaps the only serious issue have have with this, is your take on the NDP. It seems evident they are attracting folks who are sick of the politics as usual from the two main parties [ that and MI is not resonating] Even if people are just parking their votes it's a hopeful sign and perhaps more likely to push the other two parties to consider real democratic reform – for that reason i applaud them.
    As for their economic policies…well i wouldn't want them to get a majority that's for sure. Let's put them on probation like we did with SH. An NDP minority would likely do no more short term harm than the libs, they would respect democracy more and propel the other parties to ditch those leaders and handlers who didn't get the publics message. You even hinted at this when you said an Lib/NDP alliance would likely do no real harm to the economy[ ok you did put the libs first, but let's not get too picky, democracy is messy ya know] and besides they would likely have a fired up CPC breathing down their necks.

  108. Yes, but I'm skeptical the GG would have called another election just two weeks after the last one. Since there was no way to know the outcome of another election, the safest assumption is that after just two weeks, the result of another election would be the same. I really don't believe it makes any sense to have two consecutive elections.
    Both sides used every legal maneouvre in the book to seize power, and in the end the Conservatives had the last move.

  109. It seems Andrew’s tormented logic has revealed he’s less an idealist, and more of an idealogue. The premise of Andrew’s complaint not be based on objective fact put in proper context (for instance prorogue being used frequently (104 previous times)) but through the hyperpartisan lens of our current Harper hating media (the 105th prorogue under Harper threatened our democracy as we know it, among many other examples).

    Through this prism the world can be turned on its head, the common prorogue treated as a rare infectious leper, while the coalition (last done 75 years ago) is viewed as normal and expected as the rising Sun.

    It can only be this prism that allows “Andrew the Idealist” to cast his lot with the party of adscam, devoid of ideas, crumbling to pieces as Canadians come to recognize it is the party of power for power’s sake, led by an annointed elite, who chose to live his adult life outside the country he dared thought he could conveniently dash back to to lead.

    Rise up. Rise up our newfound ideologue.

    • You know as well as I do chet, the difference between proroguing at the end of business, to develop a new throne speech, and proroguing to muzzle the House.

  110. Well, Mulroney had to do SOMETHING. He took the $28 billion deficit Trudeau left him with and increased it to a $42 billion deficit. The $250 billion federal debt we had under Trudeau was well over $600 billion when Mulroney left.

    I'm more than willing to give Mulroney some credit for helping to start the clean-up of the huge mess we had in 1993, but let's not forget that he personally created more than half of the mess.

  111. I would like to know why you think that Ignatieff is more capable of protecting democracy: he was parachuted as leader without a vote from members, not very democratic. He came back to Canada. There's nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that he came back with the complete certainty that he was entitled to become Prime Minister. That's arrogant. Yes, he's arrogant and once he gets power, watch out. You talk about how Harper treats his MPs. What about Pablo Rodriguez, do we hear about him anymore? No. Ignatieff is taking Chrétien on the campaign trail as we speak. Chrétien and democracy? I'm afraid you're dreaming in colour. The ultra-partisanship in Parliament is certainly not just the making of Conservatives. The insults and shouting is from all sides. As for the contempt of Parliament charge, I watched the hearings. Once the government said it would give the rest of the information, the committee didn't even wait until the following Monday, which they said they would, to find the government in contempt. They did it the next day. They had already made up their mind and by waiting for the Monday, they would have lost their case.
    You think that Ignatieff and his cohorts will be different? Good luck Andrew. I hope you're rewarded.

  112. Here's a Norman Spector article from 2009 expressing the same opinion as mine: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/seco

    According the article, Ignatieff is "better than this – much better", but in reality nothing changed from then til now.

  113. I agree that the Harper government leaves a lot to be desired on the openness front but when it comes to key issues for me such as senate reform, the economy, individual rights, not funding special interest groups, and eventually reforming parliament I still think the Conservatives have the edge. Liberal hippocracy and broken promises to get elected left a long lasting distaste for me. I heartily agree that the GST is the fairest type of tax but believe the level established at 5% is enough. I would even agree to an increase if it could be passed transparently to local government to reduce the need for property taxes.

  114. The Harper party MUST be shown it cannot get away with destroying our democracy and after this election no matter what the outcome our next job will be to make sure electoral reform is on our top priority list if we really do care about keeping this a democratic country.

    • what you you change in our electoral system?

      • My personal preference is to do away with political parties all together and run only Independents. That way my MP acts as the conduit for his constituency in Parliament not some whipped, nodding muppet for some political ideology that usurps democracy at every turn. But I'd also take down the Provincial borders instead of the Canada/US of A one. One less level of government appeals to me. A big topic to discuss here.

        • What's your preferred method for making Canada a unitary state? Civil war or foreign takeover?

        • Sorry – I would be hard pressed to see that as workable.

          Any better suggestions?

  115. Poor Andrew seems to be very confused these days. It seems that for poor Andrew the fact that Conservatives, despite of minority at HoC, were able to govern Canada effectively for five years is an insult to "democracy". Poor Andrew would rather see Conservatives diving in the gutter with thieving Liberals in the name of "democracy" than allow them to govern Canada by bending parlamentary rules and procedures same way Liberals did at the time that they had majority at HoC .
    How much sense Andrew's logic contains I do not know as his contorted logic beats me.

  116. Andrew,
    Another great piece. I am really starting to like both you and Paul. I might quibble on a few of your points, but on the whole you are correct.

    I would take issue with your conclusion, though. The reason I do is that you feel the economy can bounce back from whatever we throw at it (I am of the mind that we will be hitting some economic milestones in the next 10 years), and that if we elect the Liberals we will be 'restoring' our democracy (not exactly what you said, but I am paraphrasing). I would disagree with both those points.

    We have already seen what the liberals do when in power. I would submit to you that this is the way our system runs, and has always run. The reason Parliament has been so fragmented during the last few years has to do with the minority factor. If Harper had a majority, most of these things wouldn't have happened, or at worst, we wouldn't have heard about them. Switching parties will in no way effect our democracy. Tell me what laws will be passed to change it. You said yourself that the Liberals have almost nothing in their platform for this, even thought they say this is the reason for the election. Changing the parties now, to 'spank' the CPC, will only make the next party craftier. None of them will change their colors, unless the laws are changed. The big question there is, do we want to change those laws? Put in more checks and balance? End up like the US? That is a debate for another day.

  117. Good grief the drivle that oozes out of the Left's mouths is simply to simple to debate. Oh thank you great snobby journalist for straying into the side of real democracy. Good gawd you leftards need to find idols that aren't journalists or politicians.

  118. Thank you for an excellent, thoroughly thought-out column. It is sober and unflinching in looking at the realities of both parties, and I swear leaves no stone unturned. You should have been a doctor, because you'd do an awesome physical.

    This is far, far better than that indifferent G&M endorsement, and does us the courtesy of explaining how you have weighed your decision. It is obviously as important to you as it is to us, and I am impressed.

  119. Beautifully said, Andrew. This may be the best argument I've encountered this election. Thanks especially for the concluding paragraph – you summed up exactly what I think many of us have been feeling, but unable to say so succinctly.

  120. I don't understand how anybody can say that Layton is not ready to be government. First he is the oldest in this game, longer than harper and Ignatieff. Second, he never had a chance to show what he can do so why people is so scared that he is going to increase taxes and put us in some kind of danger. At least he respect democracy and parliament which Mr. Harper has total disregard for both. The liberals under Paul Martin cut our health care to the bone, cut lots of social services to balance the books but when it was balanced, no increase in our social net at all. Harper instead of balancing the books or keeping it balanced, he cut corporate taxes, GST etc putting us in this deep hole that we are today. So, I want to see what NDP can do. It cannot be any worse. So, I think this time they deserve a chance.

    • "So, I want to see what NDP can do. It cannot be any worse. So, I think this time they deserve a chance."

      let's check in after a year of PMJL and see if you still feel the same way. Capital fleeing the country, new taxes, new nanny state laws, unintended (not really)income lossfor the middle class that was duped into thinking that sacrificing the business community on the altar of "making things better for the poor" would improve their quality of life… you know the drill just look at any country that endures the leftist plague.

  121. Canadians rejected Ignatieff's books – They rejected his politics.

    As Liberals contemplate their navel, as to where their disastrous campaign went wrong, and why their attempt to sell Ignatieff as a Prime Minister was a dismal failure it is rather obvious to Canadians.
    Liberals have tried to convince Canadians that Ignatieff would be an excellent choice because he is a brilliant person who has authored 17 books.
    The Canadians response is – can you name me one person who has even read one of them? Who cares?
    Not very impressive, not very influential, not very motivating.

  122. Hi.I read Andrews comments on the conservatives & the liberals with great interest and agree with him on much of what he said.However,to dismiss Jack Layton & the NDP,especially at this date is very unwise.I will be voting for them for sure and bring some sense to our federal government other than the two old line parties ,with their strong sense of entitlement,especially Harper feeling he can get away with doing whatever he pleases.

  123. Well, I for one disagree with all of the 'democracy' part. (Also, I knew you had become a Liberal shill at the very beginning of the election when I started following you on twitter – I have since "unfollowed" you).

    The reason I disgree with your entire line of thinking about the supposed abuse of democracy is this: Had the Conservatives had a majority, not a single example you cited would have been considered an abuse of democracy. From the proroguing of Parliament, the Bev Oda affair, the supposed "withholding of documents", all of it. I think this 'shutting down Parliament twice' complaint is the worst. Jean Chretien did it 4 times during his reign, but because Jean Chretien had his majority, nobody cared. Jean Chretien didn't have to worry about these little knives being thrown at him from some committee because all of the committees had enough Liberals to vote down any unsavory conclusions.

    So Stephen Harper is being held accountable for the very instability and vitriolic partisanship that is inherent with a minority government. And this is even more aggravating because Harper has worked with this disgusting Parliament for the past 5 years and the CPC popular support is only getting larger. Harper should be commended for being the longest serving PM of a minority government and it is likely that we will never see another PM govern as a minority for that long.

    So when the CPC finally get their long overdue majority on May 2nd, we can both be happy because, magically, our democracy will be fixed again.

    • You are quite correct that if Harper had a majority, he wouldnt have abused democracy. That is because he would have had the support of parliament. He didnt, so he hid from it, withheld from it, and lied to it.

      You dont reward a leader with a majority with the bad way he acts with a minority. Which I believe was Coyne's point.

  124. I have one last thought on this, Andrew. You seem to say that you have been sitting on the fence, and now have thrown your support behind the Liberals. Is this a coincidence that it comes after a huge run up by the NDP? Is your true aim to pull a bit of support back from the NDP to the Liberals, because you see an equally divided opposition as a bad thing?Would you have come up with this conclusion if the liberals were a few points behind the conservatives? You can safely do this now, as the Liberals won't win the largest number of seats, but would you have done this, if the Liberals were close to the CPC, would you still vote this way?

    Just a question.

  125. Yeah, people should just forget about analyizing party records and party ideologies and party platforms and just vote for who's going to win.

  126. Well Andrew looks like you've forgotten the Grande Mer Inn/ BDC debacle and your column "Why It Matters". The minority Conservatives have had to play hardball and their cause has not been eased by your resident left-wing lick-spittle Wherry and his mindless msm ilk. You've just become a focal point for the "wreckers" as Rand so accurately described them. As the son of bureaucrat, who thrived under Liberal reign, you were given opportunity others can only dream of. It is funny (in a gallows way) to see you find your way home. Maybe a full-time gig at CBC will complete the metamorphisis (in the Kafkaesque sense).

    • Bravo, bravissimo!

  127. An excellent article, and Andy Coyne speaks the truth and Canadians have a choice – either to vote Liberal, or to see Harper win the election.

    Sure, Jack Layton is the best man running, but sadly his party is unelectable – what a shame he’s not the Liberal leader, as he would win hands down.

    And anyone who can’t see these truths is terribly naive.

    • What horsesh!t, Layton is smarmy snakeoil salesman at best, the kind that have masterd the art of lying while they smile. Rubes all of you, rubes!

  128. I'm a left winger. I disagree with your basic economic beliefs. But I applaud your reasoning process and willingness to think things through carefully. If I held the economic beliefs you do, I might well be making the same decision.
    I certainly agree with your perspective on the importance of our democratic processes and the terrible damage the Conservatives under Harper have been doing to them–something that is not, or at least used not to be, innate to conservatism. I'm sure Joe Clark is horrified at what they've been doing.

    • Mr. Clark does NOT endorse Harper! All progressive conservative old timers are disgusted with what Harper has done to their brand!

  129. Andrew….you and Rex Murphy would/should become a regular dialogue/debate tag team….wouldn't it be nice if Rex could echo and advertise your discerning discourse (whether or not he chooses to vote likewise) on his CBC "Point of View"…who knows, maybe he might(!) I'm also voting Liberal….mainly as an anti-Harper vote.

  130. This is why I always ask myself: 'What does Coyne think of _____' whenever a particular issue comes up. Great argument and article. After voting for Harper the first time round — for all the right reasons — I decided more than a few months ago that I wouldn't vote for him again. My only disappointment is that more Canadians don't care about what is at stake.

  131. My family has been Liberal since it was called the Reform Party and as we have some of them stacked up in their central Ontario graves, I don't want them rolling all over each other, so I'll be voting Liberal. I consider myself to be a radical centrist and despair at the current polarization and lack of civil discourse. I wasn't overly concerned when Mr. Harper was first given the keys to the car as he only got a quarter of a tank of gas, but he's become steadily more mean spirited, conniving and opaque. I just don't trust him with a majority. Another minority will either force him to listen to the will of Canadians and work with a hung parliament, like so many others in the Commonwealth seem to be able to do, or he'll go within a year or two, perhaps taking Mr. Ignatieff with him. I think that would be a pretty good outcome. I think Mr. Ignatieff would make an excellent Foreign Minister after the 2013 election. And Mr. Harper would make an excellent hockey writer, as is his dream…

  132. Very Good Article Andrew.

    i'm all swept up in a wave of emotion and will probably vote Jack Layton, but the NDP will need the Liberals "conservatism" to reign them in.

  133. Can't help but notice you mention Harper by name, yet fail to mention Ignatieff even once in you opinion piece.

    I wonder why?

    • Liberal supporters are reduced to voting for the Liberal candidate and ignore their failed leader. Coyne article is just a rear guard action as the Liberals are tanking in the polls and facing decimation at the hands of the Dipper hordes …!!!

    • If you really wonder why, it shows how thinly you read the piece.

  134. My deep appreciation to Andrew for speaking not only from his heart, but also from his head! The Harper government did nothing to restore our trust, but went further to erode our democracy and international reputation. Have some RESPECT, Mr. Harper! You do not deserve to govern our fabulous country! THANK YOU, Mr. Coyne!

  135. By voting Green you would not electing a government or any of their candidates. You would be making a positive statement that says "Hey you other clowns: you'd better start paying attention to what really matters to me, my children and their children. In this election I'm doing my part to increase the Gree vote, I'm hoping exponentially. Next time around maybe Harper, Ignatieff & Layton won't deflect, ignore or pay lip service to the environment.

  136. The threat to democracy doesn't come from Harper but from the party convinced of their divine right to rule. The threat comes from the misuse of committees to obstruct and not merely oppose or from an unelected senate who has turned obstructionist or from a scare mongering media or from a broken or non-functional parliament.
    The threat comes from a negativity that started with the rat pack and willingly spread by the media.

  137. con't- The result is an electorate that is confused by the Liberals demonizing the Cons and visa versa. Fringe Liberal voters know their party is guilty because Gomery and the Cons told them so. The Tory fringe voters are told their party is to be feared because the Liberals and the media tells them so. So what are their options; One is to simply not vote as last happened, the other is to vote for a third party which is the new reality………………………………..

  138. con't- With the Liberal senate already blocking legislation, Harper should have appointed more Liberals to an already Liberal senate?…give me a break. Instead of (completely legal) proroguing, Harper should have let the coalition take over or allow the function of parliament to slow to a stop or call yet another premature election. Proroguing was the better solution and as long as we have a vote democracy is not the least threatened. Those who claim otherwise are simply fear mongering.

  139. Fred Litwin seems to be a simpleton. He doesn't understand the problems that he says are imaginary. Simpletons are naturally conservative because conservative is the human default position and they never do enough thinking to get beyond the default. Harper is shrewd enough to know that as long as his people don't steal any actual money, the simpletons will never desert him.

  140. In addition to this post, which some have called an endorsement despite it including neither that word, derivatives of it, nor an explicit recommendation that others follow suit, you made some comments on twitter that I copy below:

    "What we need is a party that combines the Libs' tradit'l defence of One Canada/the national interest against special status/provincialism…with the traditional Conservative/Reform defence of limited government and free markets…with the Greens' commitment to sound environmental policy and democratic reform…with the NDP's social conscience and willingness to champion unpopular causes, such as gay rights."

    I'll add in just one of my own, that the party is open and honest about what it plans to do, and then follows through if elected. This includes what they will do when in power and when in opposition.

    Now, I don't think I'm crazy in assuming that this is a description of a federal political party that a good number of Canadians would vote for (depending on exactly how one interprets "unpopular causes"). My question is, if this is a party that would win seats, why doesn't it exist? Would a major change in our political landscape make the birth of such a party possible? Are there non-entry conditions that preclude the success of such a party? Another phrasing could be, if the Liberal party does do badly in this election, can they refashion themselves along these lines and if they do so can they succeed?

    There is no guarantee that democracy provides good government, but it would be nice to know that it allows it.

    • Defence of the national interest against special status/provincialism is naturally at odds with limited government and free markets. Very difficult to walk that tightrope well.

      In to that you throw the Greens which are essentially attacking a cornerstone of the Canadian economy. Like or not, we owe a lot of our prosperity to industries that are bad for the environment, especially in the area of climate change. Our value-added manufacturing sector is almost nil compared to our commodities extraction and export sector, so there is an automatic tension there between doing what is good for the environment with what keeps us employed and working. Eventually, I believe, the choice will be taken away from us, and unless we've been taking steps to adapt, the fall will be brutal indeed. But most people don't want to look at that.

      As for the NDP portion, check out the word "unpopular" in the "unpopular causes" bit and then reflect on how a democracy works.

      So sure, we all say we want a party like that, but in reality, when we see what the policies of such a party would be, most people recoil in fear and/or disgust, as there's very little that will appeal to anyone, and much that will annoy everyone.

      • I certainly agree that such a position requires constant political thought and clarity. One of the problems I have with the current parties is a public (not necessarily private) desire to cast every position as obvious in the context of a particular party (eg. As a Liberal…, or as a Conservative…). But these are real tradeoffs, as you point out, and this is a tightrope that reflects political reality and not just an inconsistency with a particular goal.

        You are right that Canada is economically dependent on our natural resources. However, is it fair that all the major parties claim to be dealing with emissions optimally? If Canadians have a choice between cutting emissions and not cutting emissions this should be clear. There are also many who believe that our long term economic well-being requires that we price carbon. I'm okay with Canadians saying that they want to ignore the environment, or that they want to tax carbon heavily. I'm not okay with the parties confusing citizens into thinking that they have an effective strategy on the environment when they do not.

        The "unpopular" wording is troublesome. If it means minority rights then this is not really an "unpopular" position, although individual decisions may be unpopular. I think there is a responsibility for our MPs to engage with the public. Democracy is not just finding out what the majority wants and then doing it; it can also involve introducing a number of policy options and researching/explaining their pros and cons before asking citizens to make a choice. This is an area in which our system is sadly lacking, as most parties seek to make every issue an attack on their competitors. I think a good example of this is the inability of our parties to investigate pareto-efficient private additions to our public health system. Any party that attempts to address this issue, no matter how rationally and well-intentioned, can expect to be labeled as against equality and the poor.

  141. We get the governments we deserve. We empower their antics by supporting and believing the media who have a large hand in creating the political tone. We accept elections canada's practice of not publishing spoiled ballots that would count the disenfranshised yet we lament the large amount of people who don't vote claiming apathy and then support platitudes like "if you don't vote, you can't complain". I am a professional who happens to be educated. There are many like me who have chosen not to vote because we reject the system supported by an ignorant populace who cannot take responsibility for their own actions and who look to the government to support their every need. My Canada is not political though I am politically educated. I hope we elect someone that will cause widespread suffering and disillusionment. I know I will be ok because I know how to work with my mind and body better than most. Wealth is relativistic and I know by most measures, I will be wealthier in many ways including spirit. I am free to chose not to vote and so is everyone else. Id rather watch a hockey game.
    That is why, on May second…I will vote for none of the above and be counted. Good luck with this sham.

  142. I have great respect for Andrew Coyne, who I followed for years in the National Post. (I don't read Macleans currently–so many periodicals, so little time.) This is a thoughtful article, but Coyne's opinion that the Conservatives' actions indicate an erosion of democracy is precisely the point that is the provocative one for me. I have felt throughout Stephen Harper's leadership that he showed admirable courage in resisting the many efforts of his detractors to thwart his actions for no good reason. To me, this government has made efficiency and proactiveness by government more important than conceding to the obstructionists and time wasters for whom politiking is more important than making posiitve progress as a nation. Democracy isn't going anywhere in Canada. It's just becoming more cost-effiicient. The economy, on the other hand, needs a committed and vigilant steward.

    • I hear it's very cost efficient in North Korea.

      We do not lose democracy by a revolution. It gets stolen away from us, one piece at a time. The first piece to go is always, always transparency.

      What was Mr. Harper judged to be in contempt for again?
      Why did he prorogue the second time again?
      What did he do to the census again?
      How does he communicate with us again?

      If there's one thing Mr. Harper is against.. it's transparency. This is the problem, and it must be stopped.

  143. Big deal!! What have we learned from this piece that we didn't already know? Nothing! Coyne is a Liberal, and he's going to vote Liberal… well Duh… This article is about as relevant and enlightening as Wells or Wherry saying they were going to also vote Liberal… no kidding. Coyne and his fellow taxpayer subsidized "Journalists" are all a pack of Trudeauvian Liberals who can twist facts and distort themselves into pretzels in order to rationalize their obvious Liberal support and bias. Coyne's voting Liberal just like all his Liberal comrades encrusted within the corrupt MSM… so what… we already knew that. Maybe now that Coyne has stopped with the pretense that he is a real "journalist" and come out of the closet as a Liberal cheerleader, we won't have to listen to him pontificating about how he's a "Libertarian" … ha, ha, ha, more like a Liberalatarian. But we already knew that. I look forward to Wells and Wherry also coming out in support of the Adscammers. Perhaps Coyne could write a piece that doesn't tell everyone what we already know, Coyne and his fellow Liberal "journalists" are all going to vote Liberal, and the sky is sometimes blue. Yeah, we know.

    • Coyne is a Liberal

      Your entire point collapsed under the fallacy of those desperate words.

      • Says the Liberal.

    • Sigh. As I have explained many times, I am in fact a socialist.

      • Ye gods, tell me it ain't true. But one supposes that you must get yourself and your mag alongside with the possible next Canadian PM.

      • C'mon, Andrew… everyone knows you're voting Liberal because the CBC's "vote compass" told you to.

      • Not with that avatar you're not. Socialists are the ones who have fun!

  144. As a Toronto gay man, I too am more concerned about "democracy" than "economics" because I am secure in my great job. It's my democratic rights that I cherish. I feel more secure with a Liberal or NDP government than a repressive Conservative government.

    • My apologies Norma. I seem to have duplicated your post down below.

  145. Funny, I agreed with all the pro / cons that Andrew mentions, however, my conclusion was different. Our DEMOCRACY is not in any "danger" but our ECONOMY is! Therefore, I agree with Andrew that the Conservatives are best for the job – especially if they get a majority – and no longer have to make "deals" with the Liberals / NDP / Bloc. We would not be in such a huge deficit if it wasn't for the "deal" Harper had to make in 2008 to stay Prime Minister. He did what was best for Canada and prorouged government to spare us the Coalition that Canada very clearly shouted "WE DO NOT WANT"

    • We were in a structural deficit before the recession (that wasn't going to happen) ever hit.. courtesy of the CPC.

      Your idea, and Coyne, that the CPC is good for the economy is sadly laughable.

  146. Andrew's conclusion is that saving Democracy wins his vote. He also states, "The decline of democratic politics may have begun under the Liberals, but it has continued under the Tories" So Andrew, you believe that the Liberals have Changed?

    Even though Iggy was absent 60-70% of the time from parliament because he was busy starting to campaign a full year before he decided he had to vote Harper in contempt of parliament? That's democracy? Iggy flip/flops on his past & says he comes from blue collar poor but actually attended private elite schools. Is this Democracy? Has Liberal candidate that is caught dumping Green's party literature in the trash can. Democracy? He has a white supremist in his party for the past how many years? Democracy? Demands that Gueppe be fired and now that she is found innocent, he is her new best friend. Democracy? Won't allow his party to vote their own will for the Gun Registry. Democracy? His party cancelled $25B in provincial transfers, took money from EI and pension and THAT IS DEMOCRACY? Seriously Andrew, you need to get some sleep so you can think clearly before May 2nd.

  147. A Political Party that deliberately thwarts the democratic process, cannot be trusted with power .

  148. What, you mean like Reform?

    Wait.. I seem to remember there being a majority while the Reform was in opposition. Hmm.
    Oh wait.. there was a majority with both the Reform AND the Bloc.. double Hmmm.

  149. Mr. Coyne, perhaps you could call upon the opposition parties to act in a more civilized manner. The scandal a day routine by the likes of Messrs. Easter and Martin should also not be rewarded. How noble is Mr. Ignatieff when he joins in on every so-called scandal? He's a fake; and Canadians recognized it.

    Anyway, enough said. My association with Macleans is now coming to an end, you'll be glad to hear. Of course you and your magazine will now be applauded by the sixty percent who would never ever support your personal views on fiscal responsibility.

  150. Andrew,

    Decent diagnosis…befuddling cure. The Leviathan is simply too big and bloated a carcass as is. All the preening in your article is frankly unserious at this juncture. Back in the early-mid Seventies when Trudeau was shredding through Canada, your call to "more ethical" government may have been a coherent approach. That ship has long sailed my friend. Because no political party, or leader for that matter, will willingly and meaningfully slash government's size (ie slash cabinet posts/eliminate departments all together), one must simply sit back and wait for the Leviathan to implode under its own weight, as it surely will, as all bloated nation-states have throughout history. Once it implodes, it will hopefully be the "Producers" of Canadian Society who pick up the pieces. Most likely, as will happen to the US, Canada will fracture into more manageable, nimble, and smaller nation-states. The cliff is approaching, the only difference is that economically the Liberals/NDP vs. the Conservatives just have their foot a little harder on the gas pedal…Wheeeeee!!

  151. Coyne's not a liberal or a conservative.
    He's a man with a paycheque due and he has to pay for it with his soul.
    Poor bugger.

  152. Fhanks, Andrew, for your balanced analysis and your conclusion that protecting our parliamentary system is a critical issue. My family stood on Parliament Hill for the first time on a bitterly cold January day to protest the proroguing of Parliament just one of the many examples of the arrogance and controlling behavior of the current administration which assaults our democracy.and stifles meaningful debate There has to be a result which will bring Canada back to more ethical standards. Canada traditionally was enormously respected for its wise, progressive yet moderate views especially in international fora. Now all I hear from colleagues around the world is why does Canada even bother showing up at international meetings- there is a genuine disappointment in how we are presenting our positions. Bring on the Liberal / NDP coalition. Canadians.. Though I have every respect for Jack Layton, I would prefer a center left government which is what most Canadians seem to support. Therefore the much abused Ignatief is my choice.

  153. IF Layton manages to succeed in his hoodwinking Canadians, God help Canada

    • Because Nader wrote a letter to him?

      That doesn't make any sense at all. It's not like he can control who sends him letters or what they say. No, there's plenty of real reasons that Mr. Harper needs to be turfed, I don't think we need to add fake one like this.

  154. He's the smartest conservative Canada has ever produced, and since he's a smart conservative he's voting Liberal.

  155. I agree with Andrew Coyne that the most critical issue of this election is to correct the democratic deficit that currently exists in Canadian governance. Such a correction is long overdue and is necessary to enable the successful development of other important issues such as the economy, the integration of environmental and economic policy, progressive social policy and programs, defence policy, foreign policy and any other required policies and programs through allowing parliament to function properly and enabling citizens to make informed voting decisions.


  156. I disagree with Mr. Coyne's view on the Conservatives and the Economy. For example, I can't agre that there was any “deft handling of the banking crisis”. It was Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin's decision to refuse to allow bank mergers in the 1990s that enabled the Canadian banks to emerge largely unscathed from the Wall Street horror show. The Conservatives had only minor tweaking to do to keep things oncourse. Further, the Harper-led Conservatives/Reform/Alliance tends to favour deregulation and it is likely that, had they been the government in the 1990s, Canada would have found itself in the same financial mess as the U.S. and a number of other countries. The lack of a need for significant action to shore up the banking sector did not stop the Conservatives from bragging about it in world forums and implying that they actually had something to do with Canada's fortunate situation. Beyond that, their stimulus plan was unimaginative and generally short-sighted. , countries like Australia and Germany did better.

  157. "I think their instincts are generally sounder. But their readiness to play politics keeps getting in the way. So while they have a good record in some areas—cutting corporate taxes, opening trade talks with Europe and India, abolishing tariffs on intermediate goods and introducing tax-free savings account"

    Corporate tax cuts have not spurred investment from business, it doesn't create jobs. It is corporate welfare plain and simple. Investing those billions in lost revenue into health care, the municipalities and or income tax cuts would create jobs and help Canadians. Trade negotiations with Europe are fruitless since our largest trade partner is the US, and anything to do with India inevitably enrages Pakistan, also not a favorable option. The TFSA accounts are useful for a small segment of the population, those actually making 50-100k per year. People who most likely don't need to be sheltering income. Otherwise it's not important, most Canadians are struggling with higher food and energy prices. The HST in Ontario and BC also didn't help and continues to be a burden on families.

    There are two options in this election, Harper OR which ever candidate isn't a Tory, most likely to win in your particular riding.

  158. I find this precious. Had the other parties left the Conservatives pass their "recession denying" budget in November 2008, the recession would have been much worst than it was in Canada. The CPC was sound asleep at the wheel on ideological grounds. So much for economic stewardship…

    The Libs made the job easier for the CPC by reducing the debt level and refusing to go along the financial reforms banks for pushing for in the late 1990s.

    While we are at it, why don't we commend the Chinese Communist Party who kept their economy growing despite the drop in their export markets and have helped pulled our own…

    I am stupefied by how some columnists are blinded by their own conservative bias when it comes to the economy.

  159. These guys just don't get it

  160. It's ridiculous because he summarily dismisses two parties as choices because they have not governed yet. Are we to accept that only the Conservatives or Liberals can/should ever govern this country . That's preposterous! What pray tell is not to like about a system being used successfully in most countries world wide. Our system is completely broken. The only reason the Conservatives have had a minority-near majority government is because of the disproportional number of center and left of center seats the Bloq sucks up in Quebec due to FPTP. How would an instant runoff help that?

    • Read the article. He didn't say he is dismissing them because they haven't governed. He says he doesn't like their platform and they don't have the personnel. The latter is certainly true. On the former, even Layton has admitted his platform doesn't add up. Layton recently said he would have to delay things the platform makes it sound like would happen in the first year until his cap and trade is up and running and generating revenue. Layton also said he would delay further if the revenues weren't sufficient because of the large deficit we have. Both of those are certain (time to get revenues from cap and trade and time to get large deficit under control). These are things that parties who have governed think about when writing their platform – not during the election campaign. Read Coyne's column and you could learn a lot about how to think critically about what position a party is in to actually govern Canada.

      Instant runoff allows voters more input, takes into account second choices, all while maintaining local representation. A proper voting system should not be based on who you think should win.

      • They don't have the personnel? Again you/he are making the claim that the personnel must have experience in governance. Where do new MP's come from? I have a Conservative candidate in my riding that is giving the incumbent Liberal of 17 years experience a real run for his money and in my estimation I don't think she could organize a 2 car parade but there's a good chance she will win a seat. I agree that the cap and trade platform is flawed and not just because of the revenue flow but especially because it makes polluting 'ok' up to certain limits and creates yet another market that can be manipulated. BTW the Green Party made public their platform 2 years before this election was called and is the only party to submit their budget to the PBO. Maybe you should do some critical analysis of your own.

      • Harper and the appointed Messiah are the ONLY solution for this British Dominion in NA.

  161. I have always followed Andrew's write ups and comments on at Issues and know how hard for him to come to this conclusion. I must commend him for putting the issues succintly in this piece. I have already made up my mind to vote for the Liberals myself because the Conservatives has done irreparable damage to this country that will take a life time to repair. I respected you before but even more now than ever for making a very difficult decision. It goes to show that, you are a very open minded person who weighs things thoughtfully before making an intelligent decision.

  162. I still remember the Gomery Inquiry regarding the Liberals and their mis management of millions of dollars. The popular answer to all of the questions surrounding that was something like "I do not recall". The Liberals kept the GST even though they promised they wouldn't and criticized the Conservatives for introducing it. The Conservatives lowered the GST as promised. It is good to think historically before casting a vote for any particular party.

    • Then perhaps you'll remember Mr. Harper promising not to tax income trusts – which he did. To not appoint unelected senators or cabinet ministers – which he did with Michael Fortier. To demand that the US adhere to the NAFTA rulings on softwood lumber – which he did not and then gave away a billion dollars of the BC Lumber industry's money to competitors in America.

      Perhaps you'll remember his promise to work with the provinces on a national wait time list for health care — we're still waiting.

      Perhaps you'll remember his promise to govern transparently, and then refuse to provide documentation on the Afghan detainee situation despite even the House of Parliament demanding it.. or refusing to provide documentation on the planes he's committing us to purchase.

      It is good to think historically, but the recent history of a party that has not changed is probably more relevant than the old history of a party that's gone through two changes of leadership since then.

  163. You surprise me Mr Coyne — pleasantly so! I'm with you!!!

    P.S. Do similar minds have your permission and the magazine's to reproduce and distribute over the weekend, say, 20 million copies of this superbly reasoned piece?

  164. The Liberals and NDP will blow the engine before the car even gets to the cliff.

    • I'd love to see how they can do worse then the "fiscally responsible" party who gave us the largest deficit in Canadian history.

  165. An excellent article. Given that the NDP have run fiscally responsible provincial governments with balanced budgets, I'm not 100 % convinced they are not ready to govern, but the current crop of reports about inexperienced place holder candidates being on vacation or otherwise missing in action undermined Mr. Layton's attack on Mr. Ignatieff. And, I fear, there is too much emphasis on the likability of the "Leader" with Mr. Layton. If the Conservatives have shown us anything, it's that a one man band is no way to govern a country as large and complex as this.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew Coyne.

  166. Well, to me Coyne's analysis is based on a false choice- which of either the Conservatives alleged disrespect for democracy or the damage the Liberals will do to the economy through their alleged "sillyness" is worse for Canada.

    It is clear at this late date that the Liberals won't be doing anything about the economy, silly or otherwise. The electorate will leave them in a position in which at best they will a junior partner to the decision making NDP.

    So the real question (imho) is which of either the Conservatives alleged disrespect for democracy or the damage the NDP will do to the economy through their sillyness is worse for Canada.

    I had the impression while reading his piece that Coyne wrote it six weeks ago. I wonder why he didn't bother updating it to address the question that was actually at hand?

  167. it's obvious why u are voteing liberal- (one look at ur riding)-u don 't have a liberal or NDP or other bone in ur body!!! with the NDP where they will be– will not only destroy -but empty the coffers— what the conservatives have built–so–hope u are happy!!!

  168. I have never seen anyone think so much and then do the wrong thing.

  169. I totally agree with you – I wish Andrew had shouted this from the roof top

  170. For goodness sake, guys, do your homework on asbestos – there is more than one. The one in Quebec is as harmful as for instance fibreglass, or any dust substance.

  171. Being weak with details, I arrived at the same conclusion by a much shorter route. All the parties and leaders suck, and I don't trust any of them any farther than I can throw them. The best we can hope for is the next government doesn't mess things up any worse. The best way to ensure that is to make sure there is not a majority government. And the best way to achieve that is to look at who is second place in the polls nationally and vote for that member in your riding. On Monday, I imagine that will be the Liberals.

  172. Great article! I'm there too, and it's a new place for me. The Conservatives interfered with the democratic process by dictating the terms of the nomination process in our part of the Fraser Valley. We live in such a solidly "conservative" riding that we cherish the ability to be actively involved in the nomination process on those rare occasions when our local MP steps down. Mark Strahl may be as fine a fellow as his father, but I would have liked a chance to hear him beside some other very worthy local candidates. On top of the Conservatives' rather obvious contempt of parliament this was a last straw, so with a process resembling that of Andrew Coyne's I have decided to vote Liberal. We do have a good Liberal candidate, and our NDP candidate is also credible, but it's a package decision.

  173. I already voted liberals, but if I wouldn't, now that NDP is surging I would vote NDP, just to get arrogant Harper out. Why insinuate Liberals or NDP would increase taxes? There is plenty of money around to cut; start with billions to be spend on Jets, Afghanistan, etc, I appreciate Layton whose priority is Health care, Students well being, and education, elderly, low income people, take care of our people first than think about what world think about Canada prestige etc..

  174. A thoughtful endorsement of why democracy matters! Go on you Andrew Coyne

  175. I'm a lifelong Tory. I've served on riding association executives, attended party policy conventions, raised funds and voted Tory all my life. Like Andrew however, this time I will hold my nose and vote liberal. I just pray the party faithful, if faced with another minority, will at last deal with Harper. There are some good people in the party that deserve better than the treatment they receive at the hands of this sociopath ! Let's hope the electorate spares us from the NDP, as I shudder at the prospect of what would undoubtedly resemble a remake of that 70's favourite, "The Gong Show." The sad irony is that such is the deserved antipathy towards Harper that if the Tories ran with Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys as their leader, they would likely win over 200 seats given the miserable state of the opposition. Come to think of it, if as we are being warned we are facing a renewed soverieigntist threat in Quebec, perhaps Bubbles would be the right choice to negotiate with future premier Mme Marois ?

  176. Coyne, Coyne, Coyne, what is this obsession with the economy? If left unregulated to a certain point we would have the same shameless crap happening as south of the border. If corporate taxes are were lowered even further that does not guarantee job creation ( Ireland case in point and even Canada) . How many jobs have been created over the last two years that corporate taxes have been dropping that can be attributed to these tax cuts? Not many I would suggest to you.
    The market, I would suggest, is no different than society at large: there are things that need to be legislatively addressed ( regulated) otherwise it runs roughshod over society. Even Adam Smith recognized this. He is not a total laissez-faire capitalist. Only Milton Freidman can be thus labeled, and you only have to look south to see the effect that has had.

  177. Andrew,
    One major item that you didn't take into consideration is the fact that the Conservatives, unlike the Liberal's were in power, and as such, "did what they had to do" to stay in power, no doubt some of it was not pretty.
    Ironically we are now faced with the possibility (a very high probablility) that when the dust settles May 2nd, that we will have a Conservative minority government, and if your new friends live up to their word, they will shortly thereafter defeat the Conservatives by voting down the CPC's budget. The end result may well be, that it will be Jack Layton's NDP who will be the :Official Opposition", not your Liberal friends. Assuming that the "three amigos-Layton, Ignatieff and Duceppe, vote as they said they would on the budget, it is very conceivable that we could be faced with a new government with Jack Layton as PM.

    • You say that like it would be a bad thing.

    • And?

  178. Andrew,
    I guess that having Mr. Layton as our PM must not concern you very much, but it sure as hell does me.
    IE- I contacted my broker/investment advisor this morning, and advised him that in such an eventuality, that I would immediately be selling off my entire investment portfolio which at the moment is made up entirely of Canadian stocks and bonds. It unfortunately, like you Andrew, has not sunk in to many Canadians heads, the effects that even a possible NDP government might have, let alone a certain NDP government, shock waves will really ring out. The investment community are now just starting to realize the damage that will occur to our financial markets and banks..
    I am very disappointed in you Andrew, I thought that you were a deep thinker. Once you mark that X on your ballot, you cannot go back to your polling booth the next day.after the results are in, and change it, the damage will then be about to begin if the NDP end up as the official opposition..

    I will be in touch with your publication in arranging for me to become a former subscriber of it.

  179. Good choice. Too bad you seem reluctuant to highlight it in your title. Perhaps intimidated by the nasty Conservative culture at Maclean's.

  180. Thank you Mr. Coyne. An entirely cogent and commendably honest analysis and conclusion – interestingly, one that bears some resemblance to St. Paul's revelation on the road to Damascus. One sincerely hopes that the former will have as many far-reaching and positive consequences as the latter without its many negative ones.

    But I very much agree with a concluding point of his that good conventions and habits of government once lost, stolen or frittered away – due to apathy or ignorance – are not easily regained. It is said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and maybe too many of us were asleep at the switch while Harper & company were riding roughshod over the guarantor of that freedom – democracy. Time now to reassert our commitment to “government by the people” as opposed to that by one individual; time to start penalizing the Conservatives for as long as Mr. Harper is its leader.

  181. Liberal or Conserative. All are the same,it is the power they want!We the People serve the Government . It should be the Government serves the People!Every little groupSeems to get there way. I say less Government and more will get done bt the People. Let us take pride in Our accomplishments. Not the accomplishments of the Government, Who in Mt opinion are becoming more and more Socialist.

  182. You asked about the "real Progressive Conservatives". I read an interview with Margret Atwood over at the Globe & Mail and she talked about the "Red Tories" whom she characterized as fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Maybe a good portion of those gravitated to Harper's Conservatives following some previous Liberal debacles. She may have addressed this but maybe – if that is the case – they might decide – as I have decided – that the Harperites have turned into a bunch of fascists and who then conjecture that the Liberals have done their penance wandering in the desert and can be trusted – for awhile anyway – with more political power – and will vote accordingly.

    One can at least hope that that will be the case and one might suggest that the trend-line down for Conservative support is a harbinger of further significant reductions, if not a collapse.

  183. A vote for Libs in Saanich-Gulf Islands is a vote for Con incumbent, Gary Lunn. Vote strategically non-Con. In Saanich-Gulf Islands this means vote Green for Elizabeth May.

  184. Your careful consideration of the options are to be admired, Andrew, save for one thing. To eliminate the NDP right off the top limits your choice from the get-go and displays a certain neuroses. You do what so many employers do; deny the applicant the opportunity due to a lack of experience… and they can't get the experience without the work. It's a Catch22, certainly.
    Einstein's definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over & over and expecting a different result". Putting in either the Liberals or Conservatives will have us end up in the same rut. (Speaking of which, how does a party that was cited with contempt of Parliament ever get the confidence of Parliament back? It's NOT going to happen & Harper knows this.
    Canada needs something new, something reinvigorating, something that will move us forward as a nation. Perhaps the NDP aren't exactly what we need, but it beats the same-old, same-old tenfold.

  185. Andrew, I always knew you were smart. I would add to your comments by expressing the concern that newspapers focus on the leader rather than on the candidate. For it is in the riding that this country will be built. Newspapers ought therefore to focus on the best of those seeking election rather than on the party leaders. After all, if we elect a better character of candidate then perhaps we might have a better character of leader.

    Take care Andrew, and hi to Chantal. I've never been more informed about out country than by listening to her comments. Pure human genius. And a gentle soul at that. A national treasure.


  186. I agree completely with your analysis of the Conservative contempt issue but why oh why does anyone give Mr. Harper credit for prudent economic management? he was forced by the opposition parties to even acknowledge the recession. Indeed he put us into a deficit well before the recession began. His tough on crime agenda will cost billions with very little benefit, he seems quite ready to write a blank check for these jets which are of dubious value for many of the important missions of our military. I trust the liberals to balance the budget in a sensible manner rather than the Conservatives.

  187. Enter text right here!The problem is: The Federal Liberals in Quebeck not only support the language laws, they are the ones (to our utter dismay) that made sure these ethnic cleaninsing totally ILLEGAL discriminatory laws were enacted in the first place!! The Fed., Libs also DELIBERATELY LIED to and deliberately Deceived their majority win base (the Greater Mtl., voter that supported and trusted them for decades) the 2.5 Million English speaking Quebeckers because they continued to PROMISE us they would Abolish the disgusting, shameful language laws & gestapoish language police – asking us to be patient. 30 YEARS of Patience & trust – resulted in TOTAL BETRAYAL – and we Anglos & 'Autres" being Illegally SHUT OUT OF THE PARTY ALTOGETHER – and Our once proud Liberal Party being controlled and RULED by ex BLOC and so-called Nationalists!!! We have been muzzled and treated as if we Don't exist anymore!!! And are worth NOTHING other than contempt & derision – for daring to demand our Language & culture – our lives – our ability to WORK – not be erased!!! The Libs have made it crystal clear they will form a coaltion – just like Layton with the BLOC – and then ILLEGALLY overstep and abuse their powers to change OUR CONSTITUTION to kiss Duceppe's behind!!!! Getting into bed with the treasonous BLOC – for any reason whatsoever – is imo – beyond disgusting !! They should be FIRED for even thinking about legalizing Ethnic Cleansing into OUR Constitution – WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION – which we THE PEOPLE OF CANADA will NEVER ALLOW!! Quebeck BELONGS TO ALL CANADIANS!! It DOES NOT BELONG to a FRINGE GROUP of lunatics – traitors – that slide in – because of vote splitting!! They have NO BUSINESS being in OUR OTTAWA !! And for Iggy and Layton to be making secret backroom deals with them is in itself treason no? And why are our pretend journalists – so CONVENIENTLY SILENT about Canada's Greatest Shame?

  188. Holy Smoke. Anyone who thought Andrew Coyne was a Liberal all along needs their head examined. But even if you are a dyed in the wool Conservative, let me give one more reason to vote Liberal. To bring the Conservative Party back as a Progressive and not a regressive party that will obtain a majority based upon policy and not ideology. At the end of the day, the problem is Harper himself just as much as Ignatieff is the problem for the Liberals.
    Harper is the one in control except when there is trouble on the horizon. Then, he throws someone under the wheels to pay the price based on the rationale that he was not in control. Cannot have it both ways. Everyone knows or has worked for someone like this; always in the photo to take the credit and pointing the finger at someone else when things go wrong. Any of you who enjoy that kind of dynamic along with a world view that is anti-diluvian, you can feel good about casting your vote for the Conservatives.
    I actually really like the Conservative MP in our riding but he has zero opportunity to influence policy or anything else as long as the King is there. So the way I see it, you vote for the King or for someone else. I am doing the latter.

    • I’m pretty sure you mean antediluvian. I’m also pretty sure you don’t know what it means.

  189. I disagree Andrew, because of facts:

    – in 1993 Mulroney Conservatives left a deficit of $38 Billion

    – in 2006 Martin Liberals left a surplus $16 Billion

    – in 2011 Harper Conservatives not only spent the Martin Liberal surplus they inherited, but racked up an additional deficit of $55+ Billion.

    If re-elected, Harper Conservatives have already indicated they will pursue the fighter jets and prisons, adding to the deficit by at least another $50 Billion. If re-elected, larger corporations will have another tax reduction in January 2012, while individual and small business Canadians are told they will have to wait for favourable tax adjustments for years.

    It is Harper Conservatives who are not fit to govern a country, not Layton NDPs. It is Harper Conservatives who can be counted upon to take Canada to bankruptcy. Layton would not be able to because his party has not developed the habit of repeatedly spending multiple Billions with a taxpayer-funded Canada credit card!

    PLEASE read a Harper Conservative political comic which contains valuable information:

    Which Canada will You Vote for?
    (French or English)

  190. selective nitpicking by Coyne, at best. He's just dediced to call some Liberal ethical lapses as forgiveable whereas the Cons, well, he just can't seem to forgive them regardless of the fact that all had to be done under minority government circumstances. Hey, the Chretien Libs never had it so good!! They could do in Parliament whatever they wanted to, and did!!

    Coyne's just trying to save face for Iggy – can't let him drop too far you know!

    Tuesday will be a CPC majority government, thenCoyne will proclaim it to be a good thing, but as least he doesn't have to explain himself any further – come the Liberal demise.

    Tuesday morning: CPC majority and Canada is on its way.

  191. What garbage on the democracy issue. Democracy is in no peril, and to pretend otherwise is lunacy or partisan tripe. Harper deserves a share of the blame for the vitriol in Ottawa, but only a portion. The left has attacked him as evil and inimical to democracy since he showed up on the scene, before he even opened his mouth or took a single action.

    This blatantly bigoted attack has continued without stop ever since. You want to see a return to a politer democracy? When was this? During the Chretien years, when the Liberal majority meant they could act polite all they wanted, since they could effectively rule as they pleased without even deigning to respond to the opposition?

    You want a return to a politer democracy? If it ever existed, it would exist when ALL SIDES acknowledge that the opponents are generally good Canadians who want what is best for Canada. It would exist when we realized as politicians and parties that you can disagree with someone and still respect them.

    These faults are faults of ALL THE PARTIES. The CPC, the NDP, the LPC, even the larval Green Party. To blame the CPC for them and claim that electing the LPC will solve the problem is wrong-headed and ignorant.

    Mr. Coyne started his article talking about how he sometimes myopically over-analyzes over some issues, making mountains out of mole hills. I would encourage him to consider that his conclusion, especially about the state of democracy, is another return to this problem.

  192. I must admit you surprised me Andrew.
    I for much the same reasons will vote CPC to hope for a majority. The Liberals will never rebuild without it .
    Senate reform is the first step that will actually make a difference. What better time too? The senate is somewhat balanced from left and right……add a senate election and then we can truely be heard as Canadians.

  193. Bravo Mr. Coyne!
    I am not a very religious person, but I am praying that there are enough people like myself, and what would seem to be the preponderance of Canadians who've responded to Mr. Coyne's exquisitely thoughful article, who feel that that there is much at stake for Canada if the Conservatives are rewarded for their ruthlessness.

    I agree with those who point out the need for electoral reform, but we must act on our best principles within the constraints of the current system. If the goal is to chasten Mr. Harper, then each of us must make this decision seriously, and vote for the local candidate most likely to thwart Mr. Harper's coveted majority.

  194. Andrew,

    A majority government is the only sane option. The only party with a national footprint to claim this is the Conservatives. The political games will go away and the government can get on with doing it's job and not have to worry about another "scandal" created from dissatisfaction from some opposition muckraker committee leader. You state that the Conservatives are the choice for the economy, but seem to forget what majority government brings – the end of the political games and one up man ship – it was never just Harper alone doing this. If Harper is the guy for the economy. he's also the guy for PM with a majority. To say otherwise just tells me you are looking for a reason to say vote Liberal. That's why I rarely watch the panel you participate on because your decision is already made. There is really no objectivity, you are all pulling in the same direction.

  195. If you are voting to punish, then you are into the territory of strategic voting, in which case everything depends on the situation in your particular riding.

  196. I admire the thought that has gone into this article and I dearly wish that all voters would give the election one tenth of this consideration. (I talked to someone last week who didn't know her candidates, couldn't abide Harper (her words) and felt that her only option was Conservative!)
    Where I do take issue with Coyne is with regard to the Conservative record on the economy; while they certainly talk up a good line and take credit for "guiding us through the recession", I would counter that it was due to the previous Liberal government that they were able to do so. Harper in opposition wanted to allow our banks to do the same as the Americans. Fortunately, even if not for the best reasons, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien did not allow that (The fact that Chretien kept us out of Iraq and gave Conrad Black to the English also endears him to me).
    When Harper gave away the budgetary surplus (2%GST cut), he effectively hampered our ability to deal with the recession and instead of a small budget deficit we now have a massive one.
    Additionally, the implication that any kind of coalition is either illegal, or immoral (or in todays news, the refusal to say that he would accept the GG's decison to ask another party to form a government) and indeed suggesting that the only options are Conservative majority or a coalition, is indicative of disturbing arrogance. Of course the fact that Harper attempted to try to form a coalition government himself in 2004 is another matter entirely!
    It is sad that most voters intentions are guided by headlines and carefully tailored half truths, rather than any serious consideration of the facts.
    Personally I will not be voting for any of the three major parties, the Conservative incumbent here is a shoo in, so I shall be voting for the fiscally conservative, socially conscious Green party, which brings me to a final point; it is long past the time for electoral reform. We need to embrace some form of proportional representation and cooperative parliaments, not the current blind partisanship.

  197. My problem with Harper is he is more interested in the GAME of Politics then the job of Governing. Even though i don't want another minority, i hope thats what we get so we can be rid of him once and for all. He has been a descent leader thus far on certain issues, but his continuing gamesmanship has left me wanting greatly. Having said all this, i will be voting Conservative because i like my riding candidate whom i hope defeats the ndp incumbent, a party of which i have no use for. Thank you Andrew for a very good article and i am happy to see someone whom i beleive to be more right of center put the Country ahead of the Party or ideology.

  198. So Andrew Coyne basically makes his decision based on the five past years, well I would like to remind him of the $4o million worth of reasons the Liberals should not be returned the keys to our wallets. None of the Conservative transgressions add up to the complete disregard for Canadians as AdScam did!

    • That's why we should vote NDP.
      And if they prove themselves unworthy, well, then we can vote independants next time.
      Fie on all parties.

    • Really? Adscam as opposed to lying to the house, the perversion of the Statscan debate, wilfully misrepresenting the advice of senior beaucrats, the extreme centralization in PMO, the explicit ignorance of 150+ years of governing principles that underlie a Westminister-approach… talk about missing the forest for the trees…

      If its 40$ million you are worried about, how about the extreme partisanship (e.g. the conservative cheque) that governed the allocation of infrastructure funding or the G20…

      Liberals are not saints, with plenty of nastiness in their closet, but you also can’t ignore the contempt with which the Conservatives have treated the principles and processes that define governance in Canada. Democracy is an inconvenience…

  199. I disagree with your conclusion. I enjoy your thought processes. I am not voting Green but want you to note that fiscally they are quite conservative (note the small "c") so perhaps some of your premises are based on faulty information. NDP not ready to govern – I beg to differ as do many other Canadians – young, old and women. Government must be transparent and MUST serve the people. I think that the NDP has demonstrated transparency and WILL serve the people. Anything But Conservative – the ABC wave is the voice of disaffected voters.

  200. All the work he put into this you have to be kidding. He basically flipped a coin and chose the lesser of two evils. There is absolutelly no insight in this waste of my time. Just like the politicians no substance. What are the platforms and why should i pick one over the other. Its news harper trashes principles of democracy

  201. So much thought for one bold little X. Thank you, thank you for your wonderful dissection of the thinking voter's dilemma this election. I might have been surprised had I skipped to the end and read your final decision, but you actually call every party on every thing we shd have a problem with, and weighed them out so fairly. Well done. I agree with sending the message over Harper's escalating Parliamentary abuses, as the issue that trumps the rest. As for scandals, there is junk in every party. The sins of past Liberals should not cowl this new crop. They are patriots, if not the slickest lot.

  202. Way to make them pay Canada!.. oh wait…

  203. Well, Coyne, someone had to vote for the Liberals. Glad it was you. Voting Liberal as a means of achieving open, transparent, accountable and ethical governance is certainly novel. Pretty well everything you accuse the Conservatives of, and a good measure more, could have been directed at recent Liberal governments, and they generally had a majority to work with.

    Of course, now that the Conservatives have their majority government, they will have drawn the appropriate conclusions. Based on the indictment in your column, we shall soon be living under the heel of a totalitarian dictatorship, with the secret police listening in. We shall see.

  204. Your analysis and conclusions closely parallel my own.

    It is a cop out to not vote because they are all lying (on the record, probably true) or all the same (not, once in power) or none "inspires us". If none “appeals to us”, we still (very thankfully) have choices – local person, party, policies, leaders (too bad, but in Canada all tied into a single vote). Or maybe vote: 1 for “least bad”, 2 “strategically”, 3 based on party philosophy or 4 based on whom is "owed". Party philosophy and whom they “owe” (big business, big labour, religious groups, city or rural folks, etc.) predicts well what they will do once in power. If that almost guaranteed direction bothers us, we must vote for someone else. But we still have the choice, and must exercise it.

  205. To those who argue against my contention that the CBC is biased against the conservatives, what about this. Most defenders of the CBC will admit that Herbert and Gregg of the "At Issue" panel are left wingers, but they point to Coyne as proof that the CBC has at least one Conservative supporter.

    So much for that contention.

    That makes if a sweep for the "At Issue Panel" to go along with Milewski, McKenna, Weston, Solomon, etc.

    I suppose CBC thinks Don Cherry balances it all out.

    I don't begrudge Mr. Coyne his opinion. I do find fault with taxpayer funded CBC promotion of that opinion to the exclusion of the opposing opinion. When Taxpayer money is used to promote only one side of the political argument, it's about the biggest threat to democracy you can get.