Idea alert

by Aaron Wherry

While clarifying that he does not support a full merger, Nathan Cullen proposes joint nomination meetings in Conservative-held ridings.

NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen today said he is seeking a mandate from New Democrats to co-operate with progressives across the political spectrum. Specifically, Cullen said as leader, he would seek joint nomination meetings with progressive, federalist parties in some Conservative-held seats … Cullen said he does not a support a full merger.  But also said that he senses a moment where people from across party lines are open to new approaches to defeat Harper, and asked people who feel that way for their support.




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Idea alert

  1. That is, in effect, creating a new party…presumably of the long heralded ‘progressives’.

  2. “Cullen said he believed the NDP leadership race would revolve more around how the party wanted to do politics than specific policy planks.”
     
    Hmmmm…we don’t have a plan but we are progressive and nicer than Stephen Harper, lol!!
     
    Think he should stick to the well worn mantra about shipping raw logs.

  3. Now that he mentions this … The thing that we are missing in Canada is an inclusive process for determining candidates and leaders. Leadership selection at its most inclusive is restricted to people who hold party memberships, and often is controlled by considerably fewer than that, and candidate nominations are restricted to local party members (and vetted by the party leaders.)

    On this point, and probably only this point, the US federal election system with its system of primaries is more democratic and inclusive, and it also provides a chance for the parties to test their candidates in front of non-partisans and even opposing partisans.

    Surely in 2011 we can invent some sort of hybrid between our party discipline selection process and the US primary system that engages more voters, puts candidates in front of more people and allows some input into who is going to get the party nod in a given jurisdiction.

    Even if I’m not a Conservative or a Liberal or a NDP or Green supporter, why can’t I have some input in their choice of standard bearer, especially in ridings where it’s practically a foregone conclusion which party will succeed?

    In the case of party leaders, it’s a travesty how narrow the selection process is, particulary in the cases where a new leader assumes the position of premier or prime minister.

    • How about you become a Conservative or a Liberal or a(n) NDP or Green supporter, help by doing some of the work of a political party, and then feel proud of your ability to vote for candidates, leaders, and board members. 

      This reminds me of the woman who baked some bread.  “Who would like to cut the wheat,” she asked.  You know the rest of the story.

      • What Jenn said.

        • Fair comment if we assume the only way to be engaged politically is to be engaged in political parties. To me that has always looked like we need to work to fix the party so we can fix the electoral system so we can fix the government. And then maybe we can have some small amount of influence over the corporate decisions that affect our communities. Indirect Action as it were.

          But maybe some of us (and increasing numbers of young people) don’t want any of that spongy white bread the parties are baking, and we aren’t really interested in spending our volunteer time distributing it in different coloured bread bags.

          We prefer to spend our efforts in extra-parliamentary groups helping to bake multi-grain bread. Wouldn’t it be better if there was some room in the process for that? Maybe some others, even the party bakers, would eventually be influenced to prefer a bit of whole grain?

  4. Cullen’s idea is a good one. Anything that allows voting majorities to defeat sitting Conservatives should be supported.

    • Cullen’s idea will drive the remaining centrists currently voting Liberal to go Conservative. If you like losing the middle, go for it.

  5. I think it’s a good idea! 75% of Canadians don’t see themselves reflected in this government. It’s time they did.

    • An indirect call for mandatory voting, perhaps?

      Then we would have better info with which to judge these kinds of X% don’t support this or that….

  6. I don’t support a full merger either, but this idea has an appeal to me.  In many ridings progressives are splitting their votes FOUR ways. To the cons one.  It’s a terrible thing that we have to do this, however we HAVE to do this.  We must get progressives on track, we must unseat the harper conservatives.  If we are all looking to the same future, why shouldn’t we?

    NDP are not power hungry, they want to see a more just and equal country… That means we collaborate.  We consult.  We coordinate. We work together in every aspect, for the greater good.

    • If we are all looking to the same future

      Well, you’re self-evidently not. If the Liberals, NDP, Greens and Bloc all agreed on policy, they wouldn’t be four different parties. Any merger that gathered some of them together without overwhelming supermajority consensus would just create new fractures and the same old vote-splitting.

      Maybe, instead, you could change your mind and choose to support one party and its platform, and convince a lot of other people to do the same. Novel concept, right?

      • Do I see a little moisture on your brow, AVR? 

        • Nah. People who assume that “We all hate Harper equally so therefore we must agree on everything else too, right?” just irritate me. Largely because – as your comment above – it concedes all hope of ever building a party the traditional way, with common beliefs, popular support and hard work.

          • Plus there’s this absolutely asinine assumption among some of these people that everyone who didn’t vote Conservative in the last election:

            1. voted the way they did for the exact same reason — i.e., they Hate Harper With Every Fibre of ther Being

            AND

            2. Don’t disagree with one another on any major, substantive issues.

            Both of those assumptions are ridiculous and proven patently false on even a cursory analysis.

          • Agree that oversimplification of voter intentions is very problematic for any of these unite the right or unite the left or unite the center discussions…

            OTOH, some numbers to consider…

            -  CPC won 167 seats
            -  of those, they won 107 outright (>50% votes cast)
            -  of the 60 seats in ‘question’, 10 of them could have been ‘taken’ from the CPC with as few as 10% of the third place votes going to the second place party
            -  of the 60 seats in ‘question’, 15 of them could have been ‘taken’ from the CPC with as few as 20% of the third place votes going to the second place party (ie minority)
            -  and 20 seats are lost to the CPC if you can convince about 1/3 of third place voters to support the second place party instead

            Not saying any of this could be done (or not), just trying to roughly quantify the magnitude of the task.

            For reference – and admittedly not directly comparable – in the recent AB PC leader race, Redford (2nd place) managed to get about 50% of the Horner (3rd place) supporters to cast a 2nd, 2nd round vote for her.  Put in other terms, she got about 80% of the Horner supporters who ‘bothered’ to indicate a 2nd choice to select her over the front runner…..so we shouldn’t completely dismiss the ‘Anybody But……’ mindset.

          • Yeah!  Like the Reform Party or the Alliance Party, or the Progressive Conservative Party!

  7. I’m a Liberal firmly onside with Cullen’s idea.  To my mind, campaigning as a coalition–a one-time coalition in place to fix our electoral system–is the only hope for my Party, my Progressive nature, and my Country.

    • A one-time coalition?

      I’m not trolling here, I promise: how do you get everyone to believe that’s true and agree to it? I honestly don’t see how that would satisfy either pro-everyone-merges or anti-etc. forces.

      • Sorry, no.  Campaigning as one-time coalition, i.e., a coalition you go into BEFORE an election.  Obviously, this wouldn’t preclude joining in to a coalition after an election if it produces a minority government and the stars align in that certain way.  But to campaign as a coalition before an election would otherwise mean a merger, and by no means do I want a merger.  One time, though, it is imperative to my mind.

        You get everyone to believe it because it is in the parties’ best interests.  And you know political parties are always out for their best interests.

        • What you believe is in every party’s best interests may not be what they believe is in their best interests, no matter how clearly you think it is.

          What if the other parties place a greater value on continuing to exist with their own policy goals, than Getting Harper? What if they suspect that “One time only, we promise” is a trojan horse for full-on merger? If you were an NDP leader against merger, would you really take that gamble?

          • Well, it depends.  What are the terms?  Who is the Liberal leader at the time (admittedly I have a problem with him/her asking that since I’d rather we strike the deal anytime now-ish instead of two years from now-ish) and what is in it for them in the short-term over the long-term?  If the gains for the Liberals are negligible in this coalition (and they would be if I were negotiating it) then it only stands to reason they wouldn’t want to make it a permanent thing.  So, I’d have every reason to believe I’d be Prime Minister, or at the least a better shot at it.

    • Uh-oh.  That deep end is a little trouble, there, Jenn.  Look before you leap.

      a one-time coalition in place to fix our electoral system

      A one-time coalition fixes WHAT and HOW, exactly?  And stays ONE-TIME?  You sure?  How do you guarantee that?

      is the only hope for my Party, my Progressive nature, and my Country.

      Only hope?  Wow.  You’re doomed!  Except you’re not.  You eloquently showed how you’re not doomed upthread.  Like-minded people get to work organizing themselves and convincing others to vote for them.  You win, congratulations.  You lose, and you believe enough, then you keep at it.

      • Hey, been awhile since we last debated, MYL!  “A one-time coalition fixes WHAT and HOW, exactly?”  I don’t have to tell you everything, you know, but I do have it all planned out.  Which brings me to, “Like-minded people get to work organizing themselves and convincing others to vote for them.”

        As you know, I’ve been trying this, practically full-time, for two years now.  To be sure, two years in the grand scheme of things is but a blink of an eye and I’m not about to quit.  But as I think you also know, my record of convincing others has shown evidence of exactly one person listening to me.  And am I ever proud I got that one.  At times I can assure myself that the concept(s) are slowly sinking in and I just don’t see the result, at other times I know I’m full of crap.

        So there’s nothing to fear, here, since my great plan is almost guaranteed to go exactly nowhere.  But I’m sure I’ll be dead before enough like-minded people get together to fix things enough that it will convince others to vote for them otherwise.

        And yet there’s that “almost”.

  8. The idea of joint nominations is something that I quite simply cannot support, so Cullen went from being at or near the top of my list (he’s a truly skilled politician and seems like a genuinely terrific guy) to being a candidate I likely won’t rank at all when the time comes.

    I don’t expect a leadership candidate to match my policy preferences exactly, but some things are dealbreakers and any proposal that would limit the choices available to voters at the ballot box is fundamentally anti-democratic and thus a dealbreaker for me. Coalitions and other methods of cooperating in Parliament, after the people have had their say, is great and should be encouraged always. Colluding to limit that democratic expression is morally repugnant.

    In addition, it’s unlikely to be very productive, from the point of view of those wanting to defeat the Conservatives. It assumes that there are no voters who are choosing between the NDP and the Conservatives but hate the Liberals (not true, and someone from BC should know this better than anyone), or that there are no voters who are choosing between the Conservatives and the Liberals but hate the NDP (also not true). For both of the above sort of voters, they’re more likely to support the Conservatives than a messily appointed, joint “progressive” candidate.

    Furthermore the assumption that a Liberal candidate would be progressive is also not supported by their history. Several of the Liberal defeats last election were anti-choice homophobes and I cheered those defeats even when the riding went Conservative.

    • “In addition, it’s unlikely to be very productive, from the point of view of those wanting to defeat the Conservatives. It assumes that there are no voters who are choosing between the NDP and the Conservatives but hate the Liberals (not true, and someone from BC should know this better than anyone), or that there are no voters who are choosing between the Conservatives and the Liberals but hate the NDP (also not true). For both of the above sort of voters, they’re more likely to support the Conservatives than a messily appointed, joint “progressive” candidate.Furthermore the assumption that a Liberal candidate would be progressive is also not supported by their history. Several of the Liberal defeats last election were anti-choice homophobes and I cheered those defeats even when the riding went Conservative. ”

      Very well put.  It kills me how certain self-styled “progressive” put on these progressive-coloured glasses that magically make every Liberal candidate out there, from Orillia to Okotoks to Osoyoos, look like a latte-sipping, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage progressive from the Annex.

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