Annals of Bozosity: Secret Merger Edition - Macleans.ca
 

Annals of Bozosity: Secret Merger Edition

ANDREW POTTER on the coalition: the NDP would lose, the Liberals would lose, and Canadians would lose


 
Annals of Bozosity: Secret Merger Edition

Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

I’ve been thinking of writing something on the whole Liberal-NDP coalition/merger stuff for a while, but I’ve been putting it off because life is short and there are, at any given moment, probably five hundred  more interesting things to write about, read about, talk about, or think about than about yet another Big Plan to save the Liberal Party of Canada from itself. But this whole “secret mergers” story, which appears to be somewhere between 98 and 100 percent bullshit, puts it into the top fifty.

So here’s what I think, for what it matters to anyone: It’s a stupid idea. Not just stupid as in don’t-eat-that-fifth-taco stupid, but deeply, profoundly, moronic. If it were to come to pass, the only, and I mean only, beneficiaries would be the Conservatives. The NDP would lose, the Liberals would lose, and, more than anything, Canadians would lose.

The problems with the Liberals and the NDP are not the problems that the ‘right’ faced when Chretien was in power, and merging won’t solve them, it will make those problems worse, especially for the Liberals. The NDP has a strong, well-defined brand — their problem is that just not enough people like what they are peddling. But merging won’t solve that; if anything, it will drive many of their supporters to the Greens.

The problem with the Liberals is not that their voter base it is divided, it is that their voter base has left them. And the reason their voter base has left them is because the Liberals have been acting like humungeous bozos for most of this decade. It is really not much more complicated than that. The former Natural Governing Party transformed itself into the Party of Humungeous Bozos, and if there is one thing Canadians have shown over the years is that you can’t get elected if you are a humungeous bozo. You can be an arrogant jerk (Trudeau), a slimeball (Mulroney), a gangster (Chretien) or a paranoid control freak (Harper), but the Canadian body politic is powerfully immune to bozos.

Ok, enough name calling. There’s actually a pretty good reason, from the realm of political theory, why a merger is a bad idea. For the past couple of centuries western democracies have tended to be divided into three main tribes: Liberals, Socialists, and Conservatives. There are overlaps and cross-breedings that complicate things a bit, and local factors such as secessionist parties that can complicate them a lot, but generally speaking this is the Canadian experience – the Liberals, the NDP, and the Conservatives. Britain has always had these three constituencies shoehorned into a party system that is finally accommodating them; the outlier is the United States which has a weak socialist constituency that is further marginalized by the rigid two-party structure.

I think that Canada was well-served by the old three-party system, and I don’t think a Liberal-NDP merger is an improvement. Andrew Coyne likes to say that Canadians need more choice in their politics, not less. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think shrinking the range of available serious options is going to really, really annoy a lot of voters, more than the people who may be engaged in secret negotiations can imagine.

But that’s speculation. What I do know is that the Liberals have two main problems, one internal, the other external. The internal problem is that it is run, as mentioned, by bozos. The external problem is the ongoing existence of the Bloc Quebecois. The disappearance of the Bloc would be the best thing that could happen not just to the Liberals, but to Canadian politics by bringing Quebec back into the federal system. How can we get rid of the Bloc? Proportional representation might do it, but that’s not on the agenda for the time being. Another idea would be to get rid of the public per-vote subsidy, which would certainly weaken the Bloc, if not destroy it.

But recall what happened when Stephen Harper suggested doing that: The Liberals went crazy, and started talking about a governing coalition with the NDP and the Bloc. Remember how that turned out?

Threatening to merge isn’t a solution to the Liberals’ problem; rather, the fact that this idea is being seriously floated is a sign of how deep their problems are. If the Liberals insist on chasing this, the NDP should run far and fast away.


 
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Annals of Bozosity: Secret Merger Edition

  1. "Another idea would be to get rid of the public per-vote subsidy, which would certainly weaken the Bloc, if not destroy it."

    Maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't the public per-vote subsidy introduced by Chretien in 2003? So, how did the Bloc win 54 seats in 1993, 44 seats in 97…

    • Because the Bloc was relevant to Quebecers at the time. Do you recall the national unity crisis of the '90s that hit its apex in 1995?

      Fifteen years on from that the Bloc has become a parliamentary mainstay – and one of the principal pillars of their longevity is a national public subsidy that they only have to spend in Quebec.

      • The principal pillars of the Bloc's longevity remains their relevancy to Quebecers. On vote Québécois, disent-ils.

    • I imagine other countries would think we are stupid.We actually subsidize the province thats only here to a) break up Canada and b) to perpetually ask "whats in it for us" keep us happy or else.Danny Williams said it best, that tail, that being Quebec is wagging the dog.Time for that to stop, I am hoping Harper does just that.

  2. Is this merger story 98-100% bullshit, or is it being "seriously floated"?

    Can the first and last paragraphs at least get together and agree that if it's 100% bullshit, then it's not being seriously floated?

  3. Humungeous? Am I missing the reference or is this the world's weirdest typo?

    • I was wondering the same thing.

      • From World Wide Words: Humongous: This American word has established itself so well in the language that William Safire reported a couple of years ago it had been put into the mouth of Thomas Jefferson in a television programme. If so, that was a sad anachronism, since humongous first darted on to the linguistic stage only about 1968, apparently as a bit of college slang, but hit the big time almost immediately and has been with us ever since. That's despite grumpy comments like those of William Hartston in the British newspaper The Independent, who said it was “surely one of the ugliest words ever to slither its way into our dictionaries” and “a silly and affected synonym for huge or enormous”, adding that “it serves no purpose not covered by those words and is thus redundant”.

    • I think Potter is decompensating…

      He wrote a column with similar wording and name-calling back in 2008. Something about this LibDip coalition talk seems to have a profound effect on him.

    • Obviously it's a portmanteau of humongous and gorgeous. What Potter is saying is that the Liberals are run by humongous, gorgeous bozos. Right?

  4. OK, good test. Bullsh*t (not unsurprisingly) won't get past the comment filter.

  5. Could we get the last sentence of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the last paragraph together in a room so they can work out their differences?

    Can they at least agree that if the merger story is 100% bull, then it's not being "seriously floated"?

    • Jane Taber dismissed it as a "conspiracy theory" only yesterday, despite over 9000 Liberals publicly discussing it. Wherry just linked to an article he claimed referenced mysterious unnamed sources, and yet the link contained two (2) sources, Kinsella and Herle, as his readers pointed out. It's the new "post-facts" normal in Canada; I don't think journalists like us very much.

  6. A pre-election accord/coalition/non-compete agreement to bring in a more proportional electoral system among other common areas of agreement would be the best option in my opinion. This would both ensure that the Bloc is reduced to a relatively smaller party in the HoC the next election and in the future. Also, it would get around the the faults of the fptp system where the plurality don't support their current MP. This would create the numbers necessary for a governing majority coalition(without the Bloc), and there would be no obligation to either continue cooperation or destroy the parties involved.

    Not that anyone is seriously talking about this option, that I know of. I think it could win popular support however.

    • Has anyone done research lately on what impact the Alternative Vote (by itself) would have on HOC elections? That would be relatively easy to implement and could strengthen the left and (potentially) weaken the Bloc without an unnecessary merger.

      • Unlikely, as the Bloc would probably remain the largest block. Regionalism in any electoral system will benefit them. Any measure of proportionality and suddenly there's a realistic chance of Quebec electing bloquistes on a level that's closer to their actual support in the province. This would in turn mean that some of their voters would switch to other parties that they prefer given that there's an actual chance of having their votes count. For example, if you're in an area that could easily go Conservative or Bloc, and you're not separatist and also centre-left to left you might consider voting Bloc in order to prevent the Conservative from being elected because voting anybody else in the riding would accomplish nothing.

    • PR has been rejected in Ontario and BC. There is no reason to believe Canadians in general have an appetite for it, outside of some on the radical left who want it for self serving reasons. There's also no evidence Canadians would vote for a party on that basis.

      • PR did succeed the first time in BC except that there was an artificial 60% majority in 2/3rds of the ridings in order for it to pass rather than a 50% majority. It got 57% or so in almost all ridings. People who preferred a different system to STV like MMP tended to vote against it also.

        Ontario changed the wording of their referendum to suggest that staying with the status quo was the better choice for people, and it worked.

        The second time around BC followed the same model. This happened just as the recession was hitting and people didn't want to change things drastically because of it. It failed to achieve over 50% in most ridings this time.

        PR has support from all parties. Check out Fair Vote Canada. I wouldn't qualify Hugh Segal or Andrew Coyne as radical left myself.

      • Actually, it has significant support from those who think that the best way to run a democracy is to have a government that accurately reflects the will of the populace. Funny how some people think that its strange for a party to be able to attain majority status with less than 40% of the vote.

  7. But recall what happened when Stephen Harper suggested doing that: The Liberals went crazy, and started talking about a governing coalition with the NDP and the Bloc. Remember how that turned out?

    by suggesting it, do mean trying to enact it without, er, well, suggesting it first (i.e., without giving any of the other parties and lead time to get their (admittedly needing) sh*t in order whiel making a fundamental change to Canada's electoral system)?

    • Good point. Part of a confidence bill, too, I believe.

      • thanks Jenn. and you are right, it was a matter of confidence. and not long before that you had Flannagan writing how the Liberals might go broke depending on the timing of elections. It is what i think is one of the most frustrating part of coalition recollection in the media today: the idea that the move was just a bald power grab (ie it was unprovoked). it may have been an attempt to grab power, but it was in response to a set of decision that did not have the support of the House.

  8. Convenient controversial story of 'troubled' Liberal party discussing merger with #4 party NDP… coincidentally when CONs are facing serious heat over their inability to handle either a budget and act truthfully. Me smells a distraction…

    • Yes, burlivespipe, it's all a gigantic conspiracy to make the Liberals look bad. Those evil CONs are behind the Lib/NDP merger talks! What a convenient distraction!

      Seriously, though. Textbook cognitive dissonance.

      • Well, I wouldn't put it past the Conservative strategists to try to pull the keystone of what is remaining in the Liberal wall, but this time, I think the Liberals are doing it to themselves.

        Could this be a return to the factional disputes circa 2003?

  9. Frankly when I read the article I thought this is purel bull. Why would the Libs destroy what's left of their brand? We all know they are having leadership problems and will probably lose the next election. However, the polls show that the next election will probably be another minority Conservative government. Take the time to rebuild, get a new leader and let the Conservatives govern. However, it is not time to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    • Good for you, hollimn!

      (Before anyone accuses me of insulting him or whatever, I meant that sincerely.)

      • Jenn…….thanks. While I have no use for the Liberal as constructed today i.e. weak leadership and lack of policies it has been a strong force in the country for many years. However, getting into bed with the Dippers will be its death as we have known it.

  10. What is a bozo?

    • An irritating character of a clown and while funny to look at is not to be taken seriously. i.e. Scott Reid; David Hearle; John Baird; Jack Layton etc.

  11. Well said

  12. In 2008, it was photo ops with Elizabeth May. Not running a Liberal candidate against Elizabeth May. Running on a radical environmental platform called "The Green Shift".

    In 2010, it's let's cozy up to the NDP. Let's cavort with the socialists.

    Why is this happening?

    I think for three reasons, firstly, the Liberals have failed to renew themselves as a party after being removed from office in 2006. Secondly, the party has moved to the left of the political spectrum. Despite being led by apparently centrist leaders like Paul Martin Jr. and Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals continue to drift to the left. If Ignatieff tries to move the party to the center, his caucus revolts. Fourth, weak leadership. Paul Martin Jr., stood for everything and therefore for nothing. Dion knew what he stood for, but was way to far left of the Canadian electorate. Ignatieff is completely ineffecitve, devoid of any political instinct and is being eaten alive internally by the many Liberal party members that do have such instincts. Fifth, the Liberal Party, no longer standing for anything except for its quest for power now looks outside the party for their meal ticket. It's that simple.

  13. Make that 4 reasons.

  14. In their quest for a return to power, the Liberals tried the following strategies:

    a) sit passively while the Harper Conservatives self-destructed;

    b) when that failed, try to re-invent themselves as the Environmental Party of Canada, with the Green Shift and Elizabeth May photo-ops;

    c) when that failed, attempt to wrest power from the Conservatives with a coaliton with the NDP and the Bloc and by-passing an election;

    d) when that failed, installing Michael Ignatieff, recruited by the backroom boys, as leader of the party, without a leadership convention and the legitimacy that that process confers on a leader and his vision;

    e) now that that is seen as failing, the Liberals are now looking to another party, the NDP, as their way back to power.

    Why is anyone surprised by this at all? I'm not. A party without principles and vision will be guided solely by its quest for power. That's all that drives the Liberals now. And it's both pathetic and sad to witness.

    • "without a leadership convention and the legitimacy that that process confers on a leader and his vision; "

      M. DIon became Leader after a hotly contested leadership convention and yet there were still too many sucky babies who didn't want to accept what the delegates had told them.

    • Principles and Vision and lack thereof…

      I believe, based on a lot of the actions of the Conservative Party since they won in 2006, that this description adequately describes the Conservative Party as well.

    • I agree with jarrid to this extent: a lot of Liberals are currently seeing merger/coalition/cooperation as some sort of panacea for what ails them. And as a result, they're seeing only the positive aspects, and ignoring a lot of negative aspects and potential pitfalls. Especially when it comes to merging with the NDP — no Liberal supporter has given me a coherent or credible answer when I ask them what they would do about some of the NDP's more doctrinaire policy positions, such as summarily leaving NATO and NORAD.

  15. "The former Natural Governing Party transformed itself into the Party of Humungeous Bozos, and if there is one thing Canadians have shown over the years is that you can't get elected if you are a humungeous bozo. You can be an arrogant jerk (Trudeau), a slimeball (Mulroney), a gangster (Chretien) or a paranoid control freak (Harper), but the Canadian body politic is powerfully immune to bozos."

    Gee Potter…want a napkin to wipe that foam dripping from your mouth?

  16. Will someone please tell us what a Bozo is?

  17. I'm surprised that no one has proposed a Royal Commission with the mandate to inquire into the following question: "What ails the Liberals"

    There is this obsession within the Canadian establishment including the media and of course within the Liberal Party itself that it is some kind of catastrophe that the LIberals are out of power. As if something is wrong with that and it is not simply the normal alternace of political power found in all healthy democracies.

    The Liberal Party of Canada's unoffical motto seems to be, reversing John Kennedy's dictum:

    And so my fellow Canadians, ask not what the Liberal Party can do for you – ask what you can do for the Liberal Party"

    • "And so my fellow Canadians, ask not what the Liberal Party can do for you – ask what you can do for the Liberal Party"

      This sums it up nicely.

      However, I don't think the media is driving this. I believe it is internal turmoil within the Liberal Party.

      As for smug conservatives who no doubt are enjoying this, history suggests that this too shall pass, provided that the Liberals are smart enough not to get carried away with the notion that they are truly a party of the left. As I've noted before, the Liberals were successful by being a party of the centre. If they re-invent themselves as a party of the left, they will lose their major appeal.

      • Given enough time, the Liberals will turn themselves around and the Conservatives will drive themselves into a ditch. It's the nature of politics. The Liberals' big problem has been that they've constantly believed a return to power was just around the corner. An outright Conservative majority would probably have helped to speed Liberal revitalization along.

        • An outright Conservative majority would probably have helped to speed Liberal revitalization along.
          =======
          As much as I would have cringed throughout the entirety of such a thing, that is almost certainly true. They would not have made fools of themselves voting for or abstaining from voting on bills basically against their wishes — just to avoid bringing the government down.

          At this point I believe people are getting fed up with a minority government running as a de facto majority simply through lack of gutsy opposition on the part of the Liberals.

        • I agree. The Liberals should allow the CPC to govern with a majority. Oppose but agree to allow legislation to pass.Legislate an agareeable time to have the next election 2-3 years away.
          This would allow Liberals to formulate an acceptable alternative.

  18. Potter this is the best thing you've written since I started reading here. Well done.

    • Was it the use of the word Bozosity in the title? Cause I thought that was hilarious!

  19. I'm delighted to see that Jeff Jedras, a.k.a., a BCer in Toronto agrees wholeheartedly with my analysis in an article in today's National Post linked over at Liberal-friendly National Newswatch.

    • Jesus, jarrid, 4 top-level comments?

      I assume you're really trying to push something here, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.

  20. "Threatening to merge isn't a solution to the Liberals' problem; rather, the fact that this idea is being seriously floated is a sign of how deep their problems are. If the Liberals insist on chasing this, the NDP should run far and fast away."

    Presumably NDP brain trust think same way. The only people I have seen seriously talking about this are left wing Liberals – people who should be in NDP but are more power hungry than ideological so they joined Libs. The Libs don't want a serious coalition, they just want NDP votes as their own.

    Who was the Globe guy that wrote the insider's account of the coalition talks between NDP and Libs a couple of years ago? I remember him mentioning that Libs wanted all the cabinet seats for themselves and NDP types would be decoration at best.

    Dippers will remember that kind of thing and be weary, at very least.

    You will be able to knock me over with feather if this merger/coalition ever happens prior to election.

    • Yeah, it seems to me that the NDP is best off the worse the Liberals do. So they really have no incentive to merge with the Libs, esp. when the Libs would try to dominate the resulting party.

      • Unless it was a radically different Liberal party, NDP voters would look askance at such a merger. The current configuration of Liberal is far right enough to be indistinguishable from the Harper Cons on too many issues from the progressive view.

        This wouldn't unite the left, it would swallow it.

        • And most of the NDP purists (at least in English Canada) would either flock to the Green Party & essentially take it over, or start their own ideologically pure upstart — the Reform Party of the Left.

  21. While we're putting out conspiracy theories, maybe Liberals are publicly musing about it on purpose so they can get the backlash out of the way and put this idea to bed early. Except that would be a clever thing to do.

    • Bingo!

      My thoughts exactly.

  22. The conservative and reform were in far far more dire straits before they could seriously think of getting together. And even then they needed threats from the moneymen like mr. Munk, a duplicitous traitor (currently Minister of Defence), and to lock the door on the PC so that their votes would be outnumbered by new interlopers. So this is far less likely.

    • Except… I really wish I could see the alternate universe where they didn't unite and went into the 2006 election divided. The writing was on the walls for the Liberal Party – the only thing keeping it remotely afloat was the fear of Alliance/Reform in total control of government. Had voters had the option of voting for the PCs as a middle ground between Liberals and Alliance, we might have seen a post-election right-wing coalition.

      Then again, I never really bought into the "Gritlock" theory.

      • To expand on my dismissal of Gritlock theory, Liberal dominance during the era of divided conservatism basically relied on absolute dominance in Ontario. But dominance in Ontario only really came about because the NDP had gotten such a bad reputation because of Rae's government. The NDP dropped from 20.1% in Ontario in 1988 to 6% in 1993, 10.7% in 1997, and 8.3% in 2000. By contrast, the Liberals increased from 38.9% in 1988 to 52.9%, 49.5%, and 51.5%. Meanwhile, the combined PC/Reform/Alliance vote stayed at about 38% throughout the whole period, meaning that the massive increase in Liberal support came almost exclusively from the NDP. As voters slowly forgot about or forgave Rae's government, NDP support was sure to eventually rebound, which it did in 2004, when the NDP won 18.1% of the vote and 7 seats in Ontario.

        • Thanks for that Charles. I wasn't aware of those federal NDP numbers in Ontario. Very interesting.

  23. "But this whole “secret mergers” story, which appears to be somewhere between 98 and 100 percent bullshit, puts it into the top fifty."

    Precisely. The CBC got took. How on EARTH does a working journalist take Warren Kinsella's word WITHOUT calling at least someone at the New Democrats? What trash.

    If they aren't already, the New Dems should be on the horn to the CBC Ombuds.

    The prospect of Liberals and New Democrats co-operating is a possibility, but a merger? Forget it. It's staggering that anyone working in Ottawa could take this tripe seriously. Well argued, Andrew.

  24. Going by the numbers, one assumes former Liberals would have stronger clout in the formation of any merged party. Would their internal dysfunction and (now) chronic lack of cohesive vision not infect the new host?

    Minimally, only a crushing defeat for the Liberals – and a Conservative majority – would provide sufficient motivation to make this work.

  25. Maybe this 'talk' will shake loose some of those non-seppies voting for the BLOC to vote Dipper or Lib, or even Conservative.
    Any federalist vote is a good thing.

    And same for the lazy protest votes that go Green.

  26. "Threatening to merge isn't a solution to the Liberals' problem"

    Threatening? Interesting choice of words…

  27. Talks of a merger are only relevant if Harper gets a majority. At the present time (and the foreseable future), a coalition will suffice.

    That being said, the one good thing about this merger conversation is the effect that it is having on the Harperites and other rightwingers.

    Be afraid Harperites. Be very afraid.

    • Yes we're shaking inour boots at the thought. Self destructing self entitled Liberals and slavering socialists combine to form a panaceaic solution that all Canadians will fall under the spell of. Give me a break.

      • Actually, from when I ran the numbers based on the last election, a simple non-compete agreement between the Libs/NDP would put the Liberals into minority government status, with the Libs having 114, CPC having 107, NDP having 41.

        Now if you add that 114 and 41 together, that's 155.

        You know what 155 is right?

        That's a majority.

        And that was without looking at any ridings where the Lib/NDP combination might oust a Bloc MP.

        • Thwim….I am not too sure that Canadians will vote as you expect with a non compete clause. They may see it as a manipulation of the electoral process and somehow anti democratic in trying to take away their right to vote for the party and candidate they want. It didn't work in Central Nova.

          • Actually, it worked rather well in Central Nova

            2006 Liberal vote: 10347, Green vote: 632

            2008 Green vote: 12620.

            So under one party, the candidate got MORE votes than the combined vote of when they ran separately. It wasn't enough to oust Peter, but that was because it was the combination of the 3rd and laughably distant fourth place runners rather than the 2nd and 3rd place runners, which is what I ran my numbers on.

            What's more interesting about it to me, however, is that the NDP, who didn't get involved in the exchange, their vote was cut almost in half in the riding. There could be all sorts of reasons for this, but one I'll postulate is that Canadians are more sophisticated than you like to think, and a rejection of the NDP may well have been a rejection of the NDP being unwilling to co-operate to oust a CPC.

            Also, do remember this was in the election with the lowest turn out of Liberal voters in history.

          • That's nice, but the logistical problems with trying that approach all across the country are huge. Just for starters, you would have possibly hundreds of royally pissed off NDP and Liberal local riding associations, having been informed that they are prohibited from fielding a candidate. And unlike in Central Nova, there is no way this scheme would be able to be implemented across the country by mere fiat of the Dear Leader (as it was by Dion).

          • Oh I never said it was something that could be done easily. I'm just arguing these people who seem to be misinformed about how little popularity their party of choice actually has. It's easy to forget, under the style of government Harper has put forward, that it's not much more than a third of Canadians that they've been able to get to vote for them.. and that's *with* Adscam and the pretty much dismal performance of the Liberal party over the past several years/elections.

          • PCs and Alliance had an idea before they merged to have joint meetings of the riding associations to vote on who to represent them in each riding with members of both parties voting on who it should be.

          • Thwim…..the point is they lost. That's all that matters at the end of the day.

          • Sorry, the goal posts you initially set were that voters wouldn't transfer their votes over because they would see it as game-playing.

            I met and surpassed that by showing that more voters came out in favor of the "game-playing" than were involved initially.

            That you want to move the goal-posts now isn't my concern.

          • Somewhere in my post history there's some number crunching that I did with regard to the potential effctiveness of a merger or noncompete.

            Effectively, while the Liberals stand to gain a lot from a noncompete, they also stand to lose the most, too, given their small base (compared to the two other major national parties) and the factions within the party. There wouldn't be a one-to-one vote transfer.

            This notwithstanding, local riding associations would go berserk if you told them a candidate that you didn't nominate was going to be running (effectively) under your banner.

            Also: Telling people to vote one way to stop another party isn't as effective anymore as it used to be. Protest voting has increased in the last 15 years.

          • All good points Lynn. Voters do all kinds of weird stuff under our first-past-the-post system, and this is something that hard-core political partisans constantly forget or ignore. I remember that finding from the 1993 Canadian Election Study, that many Reform voters were people who previously voted NDP.

            Probably the biggest fallacy along those lines that I see these days is Dipper and LPC partisans assuming that the sole reason that anybody votes NDP or Liberal is hatred of Stephen Harper, the Antichrist. Therefore, every single one of those voters would, in either a non-compete or merger scenario, line up under the anti-Harper banner and smite the Antichrist. It's a little bit more complex than that . . .

          • See my post above.

          • Not all non-competes are going to get the same media coverage as a cabinet minister and a party leader against one another. If anything, we're talking about a severe outlier.

        • Totally agree.

    • As a committed Harperite, I truly hope this merger will happen. That way we can get those blue Liberal voters and even some politicians to our side, and win a majority.

      The NDP, for any sane Canadian, is toxic.

      If you mix vanilla ice cream with dog poo, the result is more the latter than the former.

      • "As a committed Harperite".. good lord, why?

        You like being lied to?

        Incidentally, you realize you've just called a good chunk of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and BC insane right? NDP can and does form governments in Canada.. just usually at the provincial level. You really want to torque off that much of the "West"?

        • Given what the federal NDP cares most about, it seems they want to become a provincial government in Ottawa, too.

  28. The Liberal party is truly in the doldrums as far as leadership is concerned. Viciously attacking Michael Ignatieff is cruel and downright stupid. He was chosen fairly as a leader and has performed his role as well as any liberal member can. We should not read anything into the barbs thrown by American GOP's against Obama and slavishly follow them. Some leaders take on the leadership role with all strikes against them and do rather well considering. Ignatieff, is a brilliant man, who was not given a chance from day one by some of the pundits – who are they and where are they ? Try running for any party before pretending to know who is or who isn't inept. We are a great country because of the Trudeau's and Chretien's. Now let Ignatieff alone! Nopo.

    • I agree Ignatieff may indeed be a "brilliant man."

      Unfortunately being a "brilliant" academic rarely translates into being brilliant in the real world.

      The man has no practical experience to draw upon in order to manage either people or an organization. Smart guy, wrong job. He's doomed.

    • "He was chosen fairly as a leader …"!!!!!

      You're kidding, right? No, really – you must be kidding. Maybe it's me. Perhaps you're being sarcastic, but your humour is just too subtle for me to pick up on – so it looks like you're being serious. But you couldn't possibly be serious.

      Now I'll be serious. His entry into politics and then into the leadership was as dirty, and as 'machievellianly' contrived, as one could possibly get: from the LPC backroom boys "shopping" him into politics on a napkin in a Yorkville bistro, through to his show of "support" to the legitimately chosen Dion while hte backroom boys orchestrated a coup.

      Before he was "shopped" he had no interest in politics, no interest in Canada, and no interest in the Liberal Party. As far as I'm concerned a vote for Ignatieff isn't really a vote for Ignatieff; it's really a vote for the dirty dealers that brought him here. I feel sorry for him, but he was the one who willingly got into this particular bed.

    • Iggy lacks the political skills needed to defeat Harper's tories. But we have to look at ourselves as Canadians and question whether that is what we want in a government, an unscrupulous continually electioneering party or a team that closer resembles the values that we hold dear. The demise of the Lliberal Party, basically a party at the centre, in favour of this band of incompetants is a frightening prospect. Imagine just a choice between the dippers and the fundamentals in the forseeable future.

  29. I absolutley love this idea. Speaking as a Tory I for one am 100% behind the idea of a canadian version of the Liberal-Democratic Party of canada .. I like the sound of it Fiberal-Dippers everywhere unite – man the barricades and power to the people – I love it .. the waters are chummed folks and the sharks are circling and as the freeding frenzy builds and builds the outcome is clearer and clearer a majority for the CPC. Harper must be having a very good day right now and that's for sure. Keep up the good work frustrated libbies and dippers – thank you and god bless you all.

  30. so we need more choice, as long as it is not the bloc …and somehow quashing nationalism (by getting rid of a subsidy) is the path of less resistance? how do you get away with being a columnist with that kind of cognitive dissonance?

    p.s. the per-vote subsidy would screw the liberals most of all, because their base is the least fired-up and partisan.

  31. People who consider themselves "progressive" should be very careful of what they wish for.

    NDP'ers are looking for a chance to finally have some power to accomplish their goals of looking out for the workers and seeking social justice.

    Liberals are looking for "Power"

    Be careful.

    You could end up with Liberal Party Values and NDP financial know-how…….which would basically screw everybody.

    • At this point it sounds better than Conservative endebtedness.

  32. This party is still so fractured ,with the Martin Camp and Old man Chretien camp.Now we have Iggy, that was never in a camp and failed to unite.Let Harper be PM for 4 years while the libs rebuild, put some young blood out there like Justin Trudeau, and yes I vote conservative.I can see what needs to be done, but the liberal party cannot

  33. "…shrinking the range of available serious options is going to really, really annoy a lot of voters, more than the people who may be engaged in secret negotiations can imagine."

    Well put, Andrew. And as a result, Blue Liberals would go Tory, and pacifist, union and true socialist Dippers (query who'd be left, btw) would either re-colonize the Green Party or start their own new party.

  34. I guessing a merger isn't authentic enough? Or too authentic? I forget your premise again.

  35. This is funnier than sh!t. So…Harper gains Canada by default because Potter and ilk deny what lies ahead for Canada under Harper? Wonderful idea. Harper will make Liberals disappear like Buddhism left Afghanisnam. What American zealots couldn't achieve will become reality in Canada.
    The difference between Harperites and the Taliban is infinitesimal. Harper will use the bureaucracy like the thug Potter thinks Chretien was. There will be NO prisoners.

  36. I'm with you on everything except the part about a disappearing Bloc being good for the Liberals. Have you been to Quebec? Those Bloc voters are mostly conservatives and socialists. Very few would go to the Liberals I suspect.

  37. The Cons just keep getting in the way of democracy. The Liberals are just like the Cons. The Dippers wouldn't consider it.
    Canada is Doomed. Idiots, all of them. Hey Duceppe, leave the Bloc, and give us a good leader of canada, pwetty please.

  38. One thing Potter is correct on is that the attempted coup by Dion and Layton in December 2008 was more about the government trying to get rid of sudsidizing political parties who can't raise a dime (see Liberals) rather than doing it for the good of Canada. God help Canada if the socialists ever have a say in the government. They screwed up Greece and will screw up Canada.