Iggy’s coalition problem

Red door, blue door? This was the best answer the Liberal leader could come up with?


The day-after-the-budget press conference was going rather well for Michael Ignatieff, until the predictable, inevitable question arose: If the Tories failed to win a majority in the coming election, would he form a coalition with the other parties to unseat them and form a government? In other words, is the Tory accusation, repeated at every opportunity, true?

“There’s a blue door and a red door in this election,” he said. Voters can take the blue door (the Conservatives) or the red door (the Liberals), ie they can elect a Conservative government or a Liberal government.

With respect sir, the questioner shouted back, you haven’t answered my question.

Ignatieff began again. “There’s a blue door and a red door…”

The pack took up the howl. “Answer the question!” “You haven’t answered the question!” At which Ignatieff — well, the only word is fled.

It was an astonishing debacle. He must have known the question was coming. For goodness sake, it’s the centrepiece of the Tory campaign. Has been for months. And this was the best answer he could come up with? Red door, blue door? Did he really think that obvious non-answer would be enough? Even the Toronto Star reporter was unimpressed.

The coalition issue is real. It is not some fiction created by the Tory war room. It is a cancer eating at the Liberal campaign, and it is only going to grow over time. That’s why Ignatieff doesn’t want to answer the question. But he has to. Because his refusal to answer will not be taken as ambiguity, but as, effectively, a yes: he won’t rule it out, because he wants to retain it as an option.

That’s praiseworthy, in a way: it beats Stéphane Dion, who did rule out forming a coalition with the NDP before the 2008 election, only to embrace it at the first opportunity. In that sense, Ignatieff is being at least half-way honourable. But it’s not as good as ruling it out, flatly and forever. Or, for that matter, ruling it in. The one thing he can’t do is just leave the question hanging. Because then he just looks devious.

Well, why shouldn’t he just say: Yes, if the situation arises, I may well join with the other parties to form a coalition government. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? Many Liberals have openly advocated such an arrangement. Many commentators think it inevitable, even laudable. After all, it’s working pretty well in Britain, isn’t it?

All of which is true, up to a point. But only up to a point: worse, it’s beside the point. There’s nothing wrong with coalitions in principle. But not every coalition is the same. What made the coalition of 2008 so dubious were the particulars of the situation: the weakness of the Liberals, the absence of a credible leader, the potential for blackmail given the Liberals’ palpable fear of another election, and most of all, the involvement of the Bloc.

Perhaps those conditions would be absent in some future coalition. Who can say? But Ignatieff has another problem: the prospect of a coalition, even one that excludes the Bloc, is toxic to his chances. The point is not that coalitions are some awful, monstrous thing. It’s simply a question of strategic positioning. A coalition with the NDP sends two messages to two groups of voters Ignatieff needs. To centre-right voters, wavering between the Conservatives and the Liberals, it says: the alternative to a Tory majority is not a safe, centre-right Liberal government, but a cabinet with Jack Layton and Libby Davies in it. And to voters on the Liberals’ left, wavering between the Liberals and the NDP, it says: you can safely ignore the traditional Liberal fear campaign, namely that a vote for the Grits is the only way to keep the Tories out. A Liberal-NDP coalition can do the same.

That’s why the Tories have been hammering the point home, and that’s why the NDP are only too happy to discuss the issue. Not only does it eat away at Liberal support on both the left and the right, but the mere discussion makes the NDP look more credible, like a party of government rather than a perpetual protest party. That’s why Ignatieff doesn’t want to talk about it. But by failing to rule out a coalition he does just as much damage to his cause as if he ruled it in, without even winning points for honesty.

So he needs a better answer, fast. And the best answer is: no coalition, no way, nohow, not ever. There’s no need, for starters. Minority government is quite common in Canadian experience; coalitions, extremely rare. He could govern, as Stephen Harper has, as a stand-alone minority, gathering support where he might find it, one bill at a time. Or he could strike an electoral pact, as the Ontario Liberals and NDP did in the 1980s: a “supply and confidence” agreement wherein the smaller party agrees not to bring down the government in exchange for certain concessions on policy.

Ignatieff might spell out certain conditions, therefore, on his participation in a minority government:

One, that the party with the most seats after the election, whether Conservative or Liberal, should be given first crack at forming a government — which is the existing convention.

Two, that should he be called upon to form a government, he would under no circumstances invite New Democrats into his cabinet.

And three, that he would enter into no formal arrangement of any kind with the Bloc — though of course he would not reject their support for any particular piece of legislation.

He might also promise only to form a government if he could do so without the support of the Bloc, that is if the Liberals and New Democrats had a majority between them. The problem is that, arithmetically, this would require the NDP have more seats than the Bloc, which is unlikely. (If Libs + NDP > Cons + Bloc, and if Libs < Cons, then NDP > Bloc: QED). He might therefore promise instead to form a government only if the Liberals had at least 90 per cent as many seats as the Tories.

Anyway, that’s one answer. Or, as I say, there’s also: yes I’d form a coalition: here’s why. The one answer he can’t give is “red door, blue door.”


Iggy’s coalition problem

  1. Is the emassem ever going to put the question of entering into a coalition, in the event of another minority, to Harper?

    • why would the tories need to form a coalition if they have a minority? the only party that would join them is the Liberals, and they'll just lie down and abstain or vote with them like they do now anyway.

    • They don't need to. They will win enough seats to govern with a strong minority at the very least.

    • You've had 5 years of answers. How they have governed is how they will govern. A minority government with support from other parties on a bill by bill basis.

      If the Liberals want the first federal coalition government in 139 years, instead of a minority government, they should say so now.

        • Sorry, go back to school. It wasn't a true coalition government. Borden tried to make it one to get support for conscription. He called it the Union Government, but in reality the Liberal Party wouldn't play along. In the end only some Liberal MPs left their party and joined the Union government. It was a coalition of the Conservative Party and independent, former Liberal MPs. There were not two party leaders inside the Union Government.

          • Sorry, go back to school….[T]he Liberal Party wouldn't play along. In the end only some Liberal MPs left their party and joined the Union government.

            School's in, pal. Only some Liberals left the party? A massive number of Liberals left: conscription split the party into pieces and destroyed Laurier's leadership. Borden's cabinet was almost half Liberal, with the Laurier remnant coming back from the disastrous 1917 election a demoralised rump.

            The Union Government was a coalition in all significant respects, and Holly's point was well taken.

          • Yeah, a massive number of English speaking Liberal Party members, MLAs, MPPs and voters left the federal Liberals because in effect they became the anti-war party. That's what left the Liberal Party in tatters. Only 16 MPs left the Liberals to become Unionists. (Two MPs left the Conservatives to become Laurier-Liberals.) 20% is not massive. It just is not. Just because over half of them got Cabinet positions doesn't change that.

            It was just like the Reform Party morphing into the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative Party. It created a bigger tent party and government. It did not create a coalition of muliple parties. Laurier stayed out and campaigned against it. Most importantly, this new party was created prior to the 1917 election and then Borden called an election and got a massive mandate from the people to run his government as a Union government.

    • Why? Which of the other 3 party leaders would Harper be able to work with? There are burned bridges littering the floor of Parliament. It's pretty much impossible.

  2. Yeah, I'm not sure why the famous Mr. Donolo did not come up with this strategy.

    Follow-up question: Why did you sign the coalition agreement before?

    Answer: I shouldn't have – Canadians clearly expressed their displeasure. I was wrong to do it and I will not do it again.

    • I think a better answer than Canadians didn't like it would be: "Harper attacked women and working families with his prosposals,a nd we had to take drastic measures. If you'll remember, the stimulus program he now credits with saving the country only came about because we threatened to defeat the government – this government would not have taken action had we not threatened the coaltion."

      • Well, Iggy can say all he wants about women and working families, and I certainly wouldn`t call Mikey a liar but he seems to have forgot that the real reason why the Liberals decided to form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc was because the government had made a proposal to eliminate the vote subsidy to all political parties. The Liberals did not believe their party could survive without the public welfare cheque and took the drastic action of forming a coalition for their own benefit—-not women and working families.

        • The vote subsidy may definitely have played a role, but by Harper standards the above answer is a beacon of truth.

        • Except that all three opposition parties said specifically that wasn't the reason.

          Now, you can simply claim that what they were saying was a lie, but you'd have considerably less proof of that position than of the many instances of Harper being a liar.. and if you open the door to accusations with no proof whatsoever, why, there's no end of things that could be laid on Harper's doorstep.

          • Somewhere in here, it needs to be pointed out that Iggy was among the last to sign on – and reluctantly. He was not the party leader at the time; his signature may well have been out of a sense of party loyalty and the knowledge that failure to sign would have been a sign of weakness that would cause the whole thing to collapse (which it did anyway, but for different reasons).

          • He was the deputy leader and without his SUPPORT it would have died.

            He put his future leadership aspirations ahead of the big picture again.

      • Yours is correct but mine is a better political answer. Which is unfortunate.

        • Don't compare Iggy's responses to perfection. compare them to Stephen harper's.

  3. I think the Libs take the bait. They lose the election badly, form a coalition government (grab power) against the wishes of the electorate, really piss off the electorate. Peter McKay wins a massive majority in 2012. I think this is the Conservative plan, and the Libs are stupid enough and greedy enough to go for it. Hey, they elected, Dion and Iggy didn't they?

    • No they didn't, they "appointed" him

      • I think he was being sarcastic and knew full well Iggy threw Dion under the bus!

        • Where he's currently making plans to go see a movie or something with David Orchard.

          • Come on! Nobody deserves that kind of punishment!

      • Actually, they were elected in a sense. "Leadership Conventions" are for electing a new party leader; which the Liberal party did do in both cases.

    • 2012? If they did that, and were as unpopular as you think (I agree with you that they would be), then they would no doubt hold out until the bitter end, a la Bob Rae in Ontario. So you'd be looking at 2015 or 2016 (they'd have to repeal the fixed election date law to get to 2016, but I doubt that'd prove much an democratic obstacle for them).

  4. So it appears that Coyne and many of his colleagues will focus endlessly on horse-race commentary rather than focusing on the very real issues facing the country. Thanks for taking your journalistic responsibilities so seriously.

    • hahahaha, this morning just keeps getting better and better.

      first, 43 to 24.

      then, Coyne penning a brilliant article articulating exactly my position on the coalition of losers.

      and now, bitter liberals pissed off that reporters are not focusing on what they want them to focus on.

      you are a delusional fool buddy. of course the coalition would be front and center. how naive are you?

      hahahaha, thanks again.

      • seriously, eh? if one isn't talking about how evil harper is, it's not balanced reporting.

        these libs are smoking some killer weed.

        • haha, you would think so but their #s in BC arent that good either.

          besides, weed is awesome, and doesnt cloud judgment that much.

          i think the liberals are on acid.

    • This is why Coyne is right about what Ignatieff should say. Then whenever the question comes up he can say "I answered that question already, now let's pay attention to the issues."

      Blue Door/Red Door is not an answer.

    • It's a legitimate question that absolutely needs to be answered. Ignatieff signed the document in 2008 and it's dogged him ever since. He absolutely MUST answer the question or he is going to get his ass handed to him.

    • NPoV, do you mean to suggest that who might try to become our next prime minister despite lacking the plurality of seats, and relying on the support with which other party(ies), is NOT a very real issue facing the country?

      Would you care to explain that?

      • Sure, but someone else already said it better…………….
        "Here is the answer to the coalition question
        For the rest of this campaign, when the coalition question comes up, there is one, simple answer: "I support the work of the non-partisan panel of constitutional experts trying to answer these hypothetical questions in the case of an unclear election result. I will follow the guidelines they set out, based on Canadian law and parliamentary tradition."
        That's it. If anyone decides they can't go along with this panel's findings, they are admitting that communications spin (we often call it playing with the truth) trumps the law. And Canadians are not that stupid. Let's let the grownups get on with the conversation, shall we? And have a serious election debate about issues of importance to the country? " (

        • Who is that someone else who allegedly said it better? That's an AWFUL answer!

          There is no such thing as an "unclear election result" in Canada. Count the elected MPs, and there's your result. We don't need a "non-partisan panel of constitutional experts." It's not a hypothetical question. A coalition is absolutely legal. Harper keeps trying to scare Canadians about it because it actually could happen.

        • Heck, Reform and PC begat Alliance (with, as I recall, some backing and forthing) even without another election. MPs walk away from (or get kicked out of) caucus, and cross floors to be bribed with fake ministry portfolios. So elected MPs can organize themselves however they like in the game of securing confidence. And if a leader will not clearly answer what his or her intentions may be, that is definitely his or her right. It's a free country. And we, the voters, are entitled to wonder why he wouldn't answer the question.

          We are even allowed, if we wish, to think about, discuss, debate that very point as an issue in the campaign. "Who might end up as PM when all this is over" is a legitimate issue for grown-up non-stupid Canadians to ponder, whether you personally have other favourite issues or not.

    • Helena, Rahim, Bev Oda?

      Olympic Torch Relay? Olympic letter "c" looks too Conservative?

      The year spent calling our military war criminals?

      Review the amount of question about the Taliban prisoners vs our own soldiers by the opposition in Wherry's blog.

      Your guys are toast. Wait for it.

  5. So its door no. 3 then.

    • Will Monty Hall be the Chief Returning Officer? We won't have to dress up in costumes to go vote, will we?

  6. Remind me again why saying you have to choose between the Conservatives and Liberals isn't an answer?

    • It is an answer only in the sense that it was an audible verbal response to the question. It is a really, really, really bad answer, because it so obviously does not account for all of the options available – either to voters, or the members of the future parliament.

    • Because it is being used dishonestly by the other side to claim things like if you vote Liberal Layton will be finance minister and the Bloc will have a secret deal to ruin the country. None of which is true.

      • how do you know that?

        • because there's no proof of it and nothing appraching proof of it. duh.

          • da proof is da proof.

          • "It's not true" <> "There's no proof." Barring a Liberal majority, they'd have to govern with someone's support. It is an obvious scenario that people are entitled to ask about. If the NDP and Bloc will have no role in, or influence on, an Ignatieff-led government, he could have just said so. His reluctance to speak to the issue can't be very encouraging to voters on the fence.

          • I agree he should make a much stronger answer. As for support, he's entitled to say "if harper wins a minority it's his responsibility to pass confidence motions in the house. If he puts forth policy proposals during this campagin – don't hold your breath – I will discuss them in turn."

          • Garnet, how many times does one have to say no coalation for one to undertand? Is that plain enough for you? obviously (NOT)

    • Because it's not a "no". It's deliberate obfuscation and it leaves the door open for him to be questioned about it over and over and over again. Iggy absolutely must answer the question in no uncertain terms – it has to be "No, under no circumstances will the Liberal Party enter into a coalition government with the NDP or the Bloc." If he does this, problem solved. If he doesn't, he's going to get clobbered. Voters might stomach a coalition government, but not one with separatists. Not ever.

      • I may have small quibbles with the details of your answer but in general you are absolutely on the right track.

      • If Ignatief says "No, under no circumstances will the Liberal Party enter into a coalition government with the NDP or the Bloc.", I would not believe him. His signature is on the Coalition agreement that is still in effect until June 2011.

        The problem will not be solved. Ignatief is firmly in a pickle. A very smelly one at that. He sealed his fate when he signed the coalition agreement in 2008.

        • why isn't iggy currently prime minister right now, leading a coalition?

          • (A) Because Harper saved the LPC from itself by proroguing Parliament, giving Canadians time to point out to the LPC what a horrible idea it was.

            (B) Because such a coalition would only have lasted until the BQ could no longer wrestle its fifteenth billion of concessions for Québec from PM Dion (or PM Ignatieff). The house of cards would have thus fallen down somewhere between the first and third month of the existence of said coalition. And it is now March 2011.

            (C) Because Mr. Ignatieff is an intelligent man with a decent memory, and he still remembers (A).

        • He wasn't leader then; he was supporting his leader – and reluctantly, if I remember the coverage correctly. He wasn't keen on the idea – and dropped it when subsequently becoming leader.

          But the bigger question: you would NOT trust Iggy if he categorically stated "no coalition" – yet you WILL swallow the guff Harper dishes out? I can't think of a single significant election promise he has not broken; can you name any?

  7. Red door, blue door IS the ballot question.
    (But my grandson wants to know what's behind the green door.)

    AC ate a bit of that 'hate the Liberals' cake served up by Stephen Harper. Don't eat the cake! Wait for the bread and games …

    • Ha ha, exactly

    • "(But my grandson wants to know what's behind the green door.) "

      Thirty-odd years ago it would have been a gorgeous Marilyn Chambers. Somehow, Elizabeth May seems a bit of a letdown…

  8. The first condition for a coalition government is that no party gains a majority. Until the voters have decided on this, why speculate?

    After all, all members of the house of commons are apt to be part of a coalition, no matter who decides to form one, Harper or Ignatieff…

    • Because, the last three elections have produced minority governments, and the last election produced an attempted coalitions. That’s not speculation – that’s evidence based planning.

      As a currently undecided voter, I want to know how all the parties would respond to another minority government situation and what kind of alliances, coalitions, agreeements that they might be willing to entertain. Obviously, they can’t account for every possible scenario, and I don’t expect them to. But given our recent electoral history – Ignatief is treating me as an idiot with his Blue door Red door response.

      • C'mon, you're smarter than that.

        • no, he's making a perfectly reasonable point. if you think voters will take this waffling as a valid response, all i can say is "c'mon, you're smarter than that".

          you have to realize that not all Liberal voters hate Harper the way Liberals on this board do. some would even switch their vote to Harper if they were to believe that their vote could lead to an NDP-Bloc-Liberal coalition.

          Conservatives have been saying since december 08 that the coalition shenanigans would cost the liberals dearly. You've been warned. You're welcome.

          • I thumbed you up… reluctantly. I suspect Iggy is trying to dodge the question because any answer he gives lends credence to Harper's "coalition" mantra.I can appreciate and sympathize… but it won't work. He has to take a clear stand, Say it once, clearly and firmly – whatever "it" may be – and then say that, from that statement forward, he will be moving on to "the real issues" and will leave the "fantasy role-playing" to Harper.

      • Talks of a formal coalition are theoretical until we know the results of the election. Why treat Canadians as idiots and intimidate them with the possibilities and theories of political wranglings brought about by the actions of Harper in 2004? If we now have this type of politics in this country, it's thanks to Stephen Harper, and Layton in particular has promised to remind us all of this.

        If Ignatieff gets a minority, why wouldn't he try to govern as a minority? If Mr. Harper get another minority, why wouldn't he try again to govern as a minority?

        A coalition is always possible and has been possible since this country adopted a parliamentary system. It's firstly and most importantly up to the people of Canada to decide who is best to represent them in the Canadian parliament based on the abilities of the individual candidates and the policies they propose.

        • Further it's up to serious media professionals to inform Canadians on the policies that are proposed by the parties and the background and qualifications of the individuals who are running for election. They should not get entangled in the political games like Coyne does here.

          I'm sorry to have to write this, but I'm still troubled by what I read recently, written by Mr. Geddes, for whom I've had a great deal of respect. That he could write such an 'immaculate conception' article on Carson is incomprehensible to me. I'm an older person. In my days a good journalist had more 'nose'. I'll assume Mr. Geddes was misled; I would hate to think that he purposely omitted to inform readers of Mr. Carson's criminal past.

          • LL – your answer was 5 paragraphs long – this is exactly why your answer will not fly – that's not how the game is played in today's political arena and if the Liberals ever want to win they better start playing.

        • “Talks of a formal coalition are theoretical until we know the results of the election.”

          Talks of a majority government are theoretical until we know the results of the election.
          Talks of what Michale Ignatief would do as Prime Minister are theoretical until we know the results of the election.
          Talks of what policies could be implemented by any party are theoretical until we know the results of the election.

          I know – lets have one day campaigns, vote ignorantly based on no information and get past all these stupid theoretical discussions, so we can let our betters govern the country and the rest of us can get back to our families and jobs and not have to think about them.

          • thanks, that's the best answer to this ridiculous talking point so far.

      • Well, non-partison, what we all know is what happens when Stephen Harper gets a minority – he cannot work with any of the other parties, and is contempuous of parliament and the taxpayer/

        • Ummm, he's had the longest running minority government in our history.

          • I think it's the 2nd longest. I can't remember the longest, off hand.

          • Harper has had two minority mandates lasting 1872 days, as of today. Pearson's two minority mandates lasted 1824 days. King's first two mandates were minorities for a total of 1641 days. Holy cow, I'm a geek.

      • The last two elections produced a government that would do the exact opposite of what it promised, based on whim.

        What kind of evidence based planning can you do given that sort of record?

    • I agree…for Harper to talk endlessly about coalitions, would indicate that he expects to lose or go into minority…which in fact could be the case..but otherwise why talk about a coalition..unless no one is expected to turn out to vote. Also almost all parlamentary democracies have a coalition at some point. Britain has one now. Germany almost always as well as Israel. We have more important things than that to worry about

  9. Well, Ignatieff's trying to have it both ways — any responsible Liberal leader would try to have his cake and eat it too.

    Harper and Layton are making him wear it, which any responsible Conservative and New Democratic leaders would do.

    The benefit of the coalition (to its proponents) is it stops Harper governing with a minority. The trouble with the coalition is, well, it makes a Harper majority that much more likely.

    There's no problem here — just the usual sort of political maneuvering.

    • He is trying to have it both ways and I cannot believe they haven't learned.

  10. This is a no win situation for Ignatieff, it doesn't matter what he says.

    One big problem that he has denying it, is that he did end up signing that darn coalition agreement. And like Paul said if the ocassion was to present itself were all the stars align, he would be a terrible leader if he didn't take that chance, and if he accepts the possibility then Harper is right, he can't win with this one.

    • He can spin it perfectly and put Harper in the corner – I just hope he does it right.

      • How? The answe 'no' is strong, and no spin is required. only it begs the question why he signed the first agreement, and of course, disqualifies him (one would hope) from forming a coalition govt..
        The answer 'yes' bleeds support left and right as AC explains.

        So please expand on how he uses this to put Harper in a corner? I don't get it.

        • I've provided answers to that question elsewhere in the thread.

          • And I explained to you the voters will understand the real selfish reasons why the Liberals formed the coalition.

          • and i think you're lying to support your party.

          • projection

          • Now *that* was projection.

    • As a fellow political junkie here in Ottawa, very proud father of two, and smitten by a 'cool mom of three' who shares a passion for Canada… I have asked to follow your posts, please.

      • Thanks for the complement.

  11. This is why the Liberals need some strategic thinking.

    The answer here is simple: Don't say "no" to a coaltition but throw the ball back in the Harper Court (and BTW don't use the actual word "coalition" in your answer, so the Tory attack machine can't use it against you later).

    Something like this:

    "Well, if you are asking me to categorically rule anything out, then I have to say no. In politics you have to have an open mind to every possibility. I mean, if you asked Mr. Harper before he arrived in the prime minister's office if he thought he would be shouldering a record deficit, engaging in record spending, and reneging on most of his accountability principles, my guess is he would have said no, but as we have seen this in not the case…"

    • Whyy not just say no?

      • Because in politics, you should never box yourself into a corner, since you never know what might happen. Remember how George Bush Sr. got skewered because of "read my lips, no new taxes?" Or how Harper said he'd bring accountbility back and banish corruption?

        Seriously, do you think for a moment that if the Tories won 154 seats and Helena Geurgis was sitting in the corner as an independent, they wouldn't make her an offer form a "coalition?"

        Plus, why not use it as a weapon against your foe, rather than allow your opponent to exploit it as a weak point? It's called smart strategy.

        • I think a coalition is only going to happen if Harper tries to put forth a really ugly bill he didn't campagin on. Maybe you actually believe a coaltion is going to happen and are trying to justify it, I think one isn't and I'm trying to downplay the false fears the CPC keeps planting. I mean, what consequences has Harper suffered from lying profusely, laughing in Canadians faces over accountability?

          And dude, if they'll believe "It was completely unforeseeable that if income trusts weren't taxed that other companies would change to income trusts, therefore we shouldn't have to keep our promise on income trusts" they'll believe anything.

    • Bravo. Well said. Too bad the Liberal's didn't appoint you as the leader

      • That's the kind of stuff he says TODAY! and it sounds like political double speak and wishy-washy and ambiguous.

        The only answer is "Absolutely not".

        • damn straight! given Harper's utter duplicity, I don't think anyone could honestly bat an eye at him saying "definitely no" when he means "almost certainly no and it's Harper's fault if we do"

          • And there, my friend, is the problem – even if he says "definitely no" the fact that he even addressed it will mean folks taken in by Harper will hear the other answer you gave.

    • Voters call that indecisiveness. I'm not trying to be partisan, but let's be honest, if it's longer than 10 words, most people don't care.

  12. The voters decide the composition of the House. If, after the election, the Liberals find themselves in the position of second after the Conservatives then – obviously – the Conservatives get first crack at forming a stable government. If the Cons have a majority – or a strong minority – then the point is moot and the Liberals should accept their fate – and Iggy should say so now.

    If the Cons can not form a stable government then the second place party will be invited to to form a government. The Liberals ought to make it plain – today – that they would , in that scenario, then consider forming a coalition government with the NDP but not with the Bloc (neither formally or informally).

    Even if such a coalition did not have a majority it could still govern as a minority.

    Were I a Liberal strategist, this is the course I would recommend. I don't agree with Coyne that the NDP needs to be ruled out of cabinet. I don't think the general public shares his fear of the socialist horde and there is no need for that additional self-imposed restriction. I do agree with Coyne that the way Iggy has handled this, early in the game, is the worst of both worlds. He looks ill-prepared and sneaky right off the bat, that's a bad combination.

    • In the right portfolio Layton could be a better minister than a number of recent Conservative ministers. Davies, not so much.

    • As i said yeseterday, this just isn't teh right strategy. he should say "I will not form a coalition government."

      • Agreed – the thumbs down you are getting tells me that Liberals do not get it.

        I'll channel Paul Begala who said – I paraphrase – Democrats are the party of 10-point plans and 4 point losses. The Liberals of today are doing this too.

        The Ignatieff Liberals are up against a well-oiled on message communciations machine. They better get their s#!t together or they are done.

    • The three opposition parties vote no confidence in the Harper Gov't – by extension Harper. So, four possible scenarios after the election;

      1) Nothing changes – all seats remain essentially the same
      2) Majority for Harper
      3) Reduced minority for Harper
      4) Minority by Ignatieff

      2) and 4) – winning parties govern

      1) Harper is on probabtion by the other parties, and forms another minority gov't. If Harper carries on as before, within a reasonable time – the opposition can vote no confidence and go to the GG (similar to Harper's 2005 manoevre)

      3) The voters seem to have agreed somewhat with the opposition parties – stronger case for the opposition parties to get together- but I would not necessarily preclude option 1 with a tighter leash.

      But, too complicated to explain in a sound bite. Maybe Iggy should say – depends upon how the voters respond to our vote of non-confidence.

    • I think you are proposing that, if the results of the upcoming election is identical to the 2008 one, it would be acceptable for the Liberal and NDP members to join forces with their combined 114 MP`s and hope they get sufficient support from the Bloc MP`s to govern while the Official Opposition Conservative have 143 MP`s. Those are the kind of numbers that will create such turmoil in Ottawa and throughout the country that it may be the one thing that will draw the anger of the people to demand that the results of the election be respected.
      Even if you crave a change of government, you should beware what you`re proposing.

      • No, that's not what I'm suggesting. Should the next election come back with the same result, then that gives the Cons another strong minority and they should form the government. There is no advantage to the Liberals to form an unstable coalition that could be brought down by the Conservatives, alone, on a whim.

        If the upcoming election returns a House of similar composition to todays, then the Cons should continue to govern while all of the parties go through leadership changes.

        • That makes more sense.
          I misunderstood what you meant by " Even if such a coalition did not have a majority they could govern as a minority ".

        • It's nice to see others now discussing some of the points I have been trying to make…

          Unless the Conservatives resolve to change their behaviour (resolve contempt issues?), why should the opposition trust them to continue in government? I am still of the opinion that the only way to break this cycle is to remove the Conservatives from power. As such, I continue to believe that the final step of this whole scenario is that if the Conservatives do not have a majority, their first throne speech should be defeated.

        • Exactly.

    • A coalition should come into play only if we adopt the "proportional representation" (like most countries with coalition governments).
      That model would give legitimacy to a coalition. Until than the "the-winner-takes-it-all" is the appropriate system, as it had been for so many years.

      Lets take a fictitious scenario in the current system: 3 parties (A, B and C) , only 4 electoral districts with 100 votes each and 1 seat each and the following
      voting results:

      Number of votes / district / party:

      District #1: A = 70, B=20, C=10 Winner is A
      District #2: A = 49, B=51, C=0 Winner is B
      District #3: A = 44, B=1, C=45 Winner is C
      District #4: A = 80, B=10, C=10 Winner is A

      In the current system A gets 2 seats while B and C get one seat each – no majority and A forms the minority government.
      B and C may claim that they can form a coalition since the have 2 seats as well. But if you look at the popular vote (which is basically the proportional representation model) you
      can see that A took a total of 243 votes while B got 82 votes and C got 65 votes. The coalition claim doesn't make sense (since B+C does is not even close to the majority of the votes).

      The bottom line is that you can not have it both ways.

  13. The Liberals should deal with the possibility of a coalition in exactly the same way that the Conservatives did in 2004.

    • The circumstances are not the same. The Liberals put themselves in this situation and they need to deal with it.

      Asking the Conservatives – or the media – to "play fair" is a waste of time and effort and it comes off looking weak.

      • Agree that the circumstances are not exactly the same; not sure that the differences really matter.

        I'd say that the 2004 Conservative agreement/letter basically captures everything you said (just above) about first place, second place and so on.

        So if Ignatieff were to say, today and for the next 40 days, that "Liberals will address any potential coalition options following the same principles that the Conservatives suggested in 2004" he says what you were saying, says it in one compact sentence/soundbite, and highlights that the Conservatives actually know that coalitions are a legitimate (although admittedly, and as Coyne noted, exceedingly rare) possibility.

        • the issue is not that coalitions are not legitimate. the issue is that voters want to be informed when they vote whether they're voting for the Liberals, or the Lib/NDP/Bloc monstrosity.

          • Sure, voters want to be informed.

            And clearly indicating that the Liberals would handle a coalition situation following the 2004 Conservative "procedure" is the simple answer to the not so simple question.

        • Ahh! Okay, that makes sense and I agree, a good response.

    • Eeoar, I don't recall the press conference with Duceppe, Layton, and Harper announcing their coalition. But keep trying to spin your way out of your little 2008 coalition coup. It is very entertaining.

      Your guy Ignatief signed it and now he and you have to live with it. He will soon get to return to Harvard.

      • You seem to be reading more into my comment than is meant.

        I'm not trying to spin my way out of 2008 – it was not at all pretty. Also, as you know a coalition never came to pass.

        I'm simply saying that in 2004 Harper and Layton and Duceppte correctly asked the GG of the day that, should the situation arise, the GG should consider all of the available constitutional options.

        From there, I'm only saying that Ignatieff should promise to issue exactly the same letter to the GG, no more, no less.

        • EeeOar,
          One HUGE difference in the 2004 and 2008 coalitions is that the 2008 Lib/Dip/Bloc agreement would legislate a PERMANENT consulting mechanism for the Bloc Quebecois. Harper did no such thing. The Bloc are separatists. They do not concern themselves with the rest of Canada. So requiring Canadians to allow the Bloc veto powers over issues that affect all Canadians, is completely unpalatable.
          Of course you would know how proud Gilles Duceppe is of this, and that he himself takes credit for the idea of the "coalition" (read his book).

  14. If Ignatieff rules out a coalition, I can't think of any reason why I would believe him. I believed Dion, …trusted him more than I'd ever trust Ignatieff, and well, we know what happened there.

    • Posted from the Tory war room, no dobut. Let me guess, you're a "disaffected Liberal who is upset at Iggy's poor leadership?"

      • You know, with approval numbers at 14% for Iggy, it's a small wonder that people like that actually exist in the real world. If you put that against party support numbers – roughly half of Liberals, maybe more, are upset at his poor leadership.

    • Amen, no one seems to get that, he isn't credible!

      • He's more credible than harper, though.

        • To you.

          • Objectlvely, my poor dear. and why isn't he the Primie Minister of a coalition as we speak?

          • "why isn't he the Primie Minister of a coalition as we speak? "

            Because his cabinet has no NDP, Bloc or Liberals in it.
            Any support from other parties is on a case by case basis.

            My poor dear, perhaps you don't understand what a coalition is.

          • Man, I despair for my country when I see posts like Mike T.'s. It's one thing if an uninformed voter freely admits they are, and wants clarification. It's another thing when one is uninformed but believes that they have all the answers.

            Harper needs only one party on any one vote. He can horse-trade with any one of them. Knowing this, the opposition parties (before this period when they were all hellbent on an election) would have to mitigate their own demands, so that they didn't price themselves out of making a deal with the gov't. Competition!

            In a situation like the 2008 Coalition proposal, the Bloc would have the Lib-NDP coalition gov't by the short and curlies, with no other partner to deal with (the Conservatives surely wouldn't support the gov't, seeing as it would've ousted them!). Imagine how much the Bloc could force out of such a gov't, especially one that would likely be unpopular from the get-go.

        • Only in the sense that he's not. :-)

      • Claudia Mr. Igantieff has some credibly gaps but our current Prime Minister isn't real strong in the credibility department either. If you don't see that than you may be partisan, but you aren't a conservative.

        • I agree that Harper has credibility issues too but Ignatieff's has many more disadvantages, his biggest problem is that he is not assertive, until lately a little more but is not enough for the typical voter.

          • "every woman loves a facist" _ S. Plath.

            But why are people so concerned about style over substance, Claudia.? As someone who professes to like harper while realizing Iggy is the better candiate, why is yoru perception of personality more important to you than issues?

          • Ignatieff is NOT a better candidate au contraire, he is horrible he is a terrible politician I rather have Dion, Rae, Leblanc.

          • I'll go at least far enough to say this…

            "[…]this House should also confirm Canadians' hunger, nay their longing, for change. It's time to say enough is enough."

            …if Ignatieff says "nay" even once during the campaign, I am abandoning all thoughts of strategic voting and marking my ballot orange.

          • Haha…

          • Strangely enough, I've always liked Iggy better than Rae or Dion. I've never really quite understood what people despise about Iggy, but there's no doubt that people don't like him. However I do like him a lot less than I used to… these days he says things that are just so ridiculous, and his instincts seem to be so wrong, such as the fact that he instigated this election at seemingly the worst possible moment, when Conservative support is peaking. And he really does seem to be completely and totally disconnected from what most Canadians care about.

          • Iggy is very personable, having seen him a few times, you can se why he is a good teacher, writer, he is engaging, but he has NO IDEA what the hell is he doing now, he has no leadership skills to start with and no instincts. Dion has the problem with his leadership skills and personality but had better ideas, mind you in the wrong order and Rae has a terrible personality but good leadership skills, great orator (without the mushy crap that Ignatieff always throws) and I think he has some instinct just need to be more organized IMO.

            With Iggy, people smell BS when they see BS, I find myself the same way, liking him less and less.

          • Yeah, I agree with you about Iggy and Rae. How the heck Rae managed to resurrect himself from such a disastrous premiership of Ontario, and was even in a separate party (NDP) for so long, and then nearly become Liberal leader, that just shows how good he is at engaging, speaking and leading (often in the wrong direction).

            I did not like Dion's ideas myself, so I cannot agree with you there. He had the right idea about Quebec, but I did not like his campaign platform whatsoever.

  15. Coyne overstates the issue – It's MOSTLY Tory war room fiction.

    Still, Iggy should say no, point out he'd be PM right now if he was hell bent on a coaltiion, and express his displeasure with the way Harper has lied about Iggy's intentions and how our own parliament works.

    • Iggy knew that by the time he became leader the prospect of a coalition of losers was a) exceedingly unpopular and b) illegitimate. It wasn't an option, not even in theory. If he had proposed it to the GG, she would have insisted upon a new election and the LPC would have been wiped out like 1984 or PCs in 1993. Too much time had elapsed from the 2008 election and that election was with a different Liberal Party leader.

      If you want to swallow Lieberal War Room Historical Revisionism, you can enjoy that by yourself.

      • most of this is not true.

  16. Whenever Ignatieff is asked this question, he should point out that Harper was willing to consider a coalition with Layton and Duceppe in 2004.

    • But the question is directed to Ignatieff. The media already knows what Harper did. They're far more interested in what Ignatieff would do. He MUST answer this question immediately.

  17. Perhaps you in the press should point out that every party is running to win, no matter what their chances, and that if the numbers allow for it and the situation requires it, a coalition decided on after the election is a perfectly legitimate thing, Andrew.

    • Perhaps you should let Andrew write his own articles and not push him to publish Liberal talking points as articles.

      That way, you would look less like a desperate bitter loser.

      • Perhaps you aren't aware that there responsibilities that go along with being a free press in a democracy. One of those responsibilities is to educate and inform the electorate. You should also note that I spoke of the press in general, not Andrew in particular. I know Andrew is smart enough to understand the difference…

        • Huh. All I expect is that he present an honest appraisal of how our democratic system works. Coalitions are a legitimate part of that.

          • absolutely, coalitions are a legitimate part of that. nothing that Andrew wrote suggests otherwise. Andrew's take, and I think its a very good one, is that strategically, Liberals cant waffle on the coalition question, they need to be clear, and preferably rule out a coalition – strategically speaking.

            sorry for my being rude, but you just came off like a bitter Liberal upset that the strategic implications of the coalition are being brought up by the press, when it is clearly the role of the press to make the kind of observations Andrew made. in fact, this attitude is widespread on these boards, Liberals wondering how come the press isnt acting as their cheerleaders (that's what the taxpayer funded CBC and the TorStar are for).

          • I'll accept your apology, but I guess I need to make clear, once again, that I've never voted Liberal and I'm not about to start.

            The role of the press is to facilitate intelligent discussion by educating and informing the populace. I don't mind Andrew taking sides…I'm of the firm opinion that columnists are supposed to sides. What I object to is the general meme that a coalition government is somehow not acceptable, illegitimate, or a bad thing. That's simply not the case. The Conservative talking point that Andrew is, purposely or not, promoting, is simply not legitimate.

            The question shouldn't be asked until after the election when we know what the situation is.

            Oh, and BTW, I'm pretty sure that Andrew cashes the cheques the CBC sends him for his work there.

          • Andrew isnt taking sides here. If you want to see someone take sides, it's Aarron Wheery. I dont mind, he's allowed, but he has zero credibility.

            Andrew never suggests that a coalition government is not acceptable. More to the point, that isnt even a conservative talking point – it's a ridiculous strawman argument set up by the Liberals as a Liberal talking point. Coalitions are legitimate. Nobody suggests otherwise. The conservative talking point is that a Bloc/NDP/Lib coalition would be deeply harmful to the country.

            And your suggestion that "the question shouldnt be asked" is not only profoundly disturbing and wrong, it is a plea for the press to act as a Liberal campaign aid.

            Voters want to know whether a vote for the Liberals is a vote for the Lib/NDP/Bloc country-destroying monstrosity that was proposed in December 2008, and they have every right to know this, and any attempt by anybody to suggest otherwise should be swiftly and strongly rebuked.

          • Anti-coalition rhetoric isn't a Conservative talking point? Come on. Tell me you didn't type that with a straight face.

            It's not a legitimate question at this point in the campaign, at least not if asked in a yes or no format. There are too many possibilities. Ignatieff could form a minority, the Liberals and NDP could work on a case by case basis, the Liberals and NDP could enter into a formal coalition, the Conservatives could form a minority, the Conservatives could enter into a loose agreement with the NDP or the Bloc, the Liberals or the Conservatives (even the NDP, as doubtful as that is) could get a majority. Demanding to know whether somebody is going to form a coalition before the writ is even dropped is meaningless, and therefore illegitimate, unless all of the possible permutations are discussed in detail. I doubt Andrew wants to write a three page column on something that delves so heavily into hypotheticals.

            One thing we can be fairly sure of though, is that the Liberals aren't going near any coalition that requires Bloc support. They've already been whipped like cheap hounds on that.

          • you clearly didnt get the message from Coyne. it's about strategy, not legitimacy. there's no "anti-coalition rhetoric" here, just a strategic discussion about what Liberals need to do to attract voters on their left and right. and Andrew is correct, it's going to be tough for the Liberals but their best bet is to rule out a coalition – for strategic reasons.

            It's not a legitimate question at this point in the campaign, at least not if asked in a yes or no format.

            And who made you arbiter of what is a legitimate question? Voters want to know, ergo, it's a legitimate question. End of story. Period. Point final. Finito. You're still operating under the delusion that the media should act as protector of Liberal Party interests. Sorry, but that aint the case.

            Your argument that it's meaningless is just plain wrong. It means something to voters, so it's not meaningless. The most likely result is a conservative minority parliament, and therefore, the most likely scenario is the 3 losers forming a coalition, just like they did in 2008. So it's a perfectly legitimate question for that reason too.

            Had the 2008 debacle not occurred, nobody would even think of asking that question. Now it is a moral imperative to ask that question. In fact, any reporter who ignores that question is skirting his responsibility to the Canadian public and is just a tool for Liberal electoral success, like Aarron Wheery.

            One thing we can be fairly sure of though, is that the Liberals aren't going near any coalition that requires Bloc support. They've already been whipped like cheap hounds on that.

            Sorry, wrong again. They did it in 2008, after having lied about their intentions. Why would the Canadian public not assume that the same thing could happen again? Liberals would make a coalition with Satan if it could get them some power.

          • Oh, I got Coyne. If it was about strategy, he'd be talking about all the possibilities. Strategy is putting the "what ifs" out there. He didn't do that.

            Voters would understand that if it was presented openly and honestly instead of as "Ignatieff has to give a yes or no answer." Remember…the press has a duty to inform and educate. It has nothing to do with Liberal party interests, it has to do with understanding how our system works.

            I'm not convinced that there was a debacle in 2008 other than Harper's prorogation. The press, and the Conservatives, let us down brutally during that incident. The press for not saying that the Conservatives were misleading us with their rhetoric, and the Conservatives for doing the misleading.

            Regardless of that though, no matter how little you and I may think of the Liberals, I think it's safe to say that they are capable of learning if they whacked across the eyes with a 2×4. They got whacked…hard and repeatedly…for including the Bloc even peripherally in 2008. They learned that lesson.

          • oh, and as for CBC employing Coyne, it doesnt change the fact that the CBC is institutionally a mouthpiece for the Liberals and far-left politics generally. It is the shame of this country, and I will be very happy the day it is abolished.

          • Hmmm…the panel that Coyne appears on skews pretty heavily to the right most of the time. Evan Soloman often argues the Conservative position and has a lot of right-wing panelists. Rex Murphy leans so heavily to the right that only the huge whiskey bottle in his left hip pocket keeps him from tipping over. I'd say that Rosie Barton and Kady are neutral, since they go after everybody.

            What the CBC really represents is the establishment. They were Liberal-heavy when the Liberals were in power, and they get Conservative-heavy when the Conservatives are in power. I thin the solution to that is to give them more money, a clear mandate to be balanced, and ensure that they are not influenced by politicians.

          • thanks for proving my point: if you think Rex Murphy is far right, you've just exposed your own bias, probably stemming from watching too much CBC over the years.

          • Yeah, 'cause the National Post is known for hiring left-leaning columnists.

          • In some cases, coalition governments are illegitimate. I will give you some examples;

            -When the potential PM promises during the election campaign that he will not form a coalition government then tries to do the very thing after the election; like Dion in 2008.

            – When one of the coalition partners is a separtist party

            -When the coalition excludes the party with a plurality of seats and votes and is just a few MPs shy of an outright majority

            -When the main coalition party changes its leader months after the election and then proposes he becomes the Prime Minister by having a vote in of non-confidence in the current government and no new election; just like Iggy suggests he could have done.

            They're all illegitimate. If they are legitimate, cite just one example from any functioning democracy anywhere in the world for any one of these points.

          • Ah, there's the Conservative talking points.

            As I said above, the question of a coalition isn't legitimate until you know the seat count. It's too hypothetical to be answered.

            No matter how you feel about separatists, they are duly elected by their constituents and deserve the same consideration as any other MP.

            You don't seem to understand our system very well. There is no requirement for a plurality of seats. There is requirement to maintain the confidence of the House. If Harper can't hold that confidence and Ignatieff (or Elizabeth May if she wins her seat) can, then Ignatieff (or Elizabeth May) gets to be PM. That's the rules, no matter how hard Harper spins.

            The change of leaders is the same…if he (or she) has the confidence of House, he gets to be PM. That's how Kim Campbell got to be Prime Minister. She was, no matter how vehemently I disagreed with her, a legitimate PM under our system.

          • Answer the question. You are full of NDP talking points but you didn't list one reason why ShirtPlaid's points were wrong. You did talk about how the Bloc is duly elected but I'd question how they could swear to protect the very country they are trying to destroy.

          • I believe it was the Mulroney Conservatives who set that precedent. Perhaps who you should ask them. Once the precedent was set though, there was no turning back.

          • Here's a simple one: ShirtPlaid's points are wrong because they're wrong. He's given no evidence to back them up, no reasoning as to what makes them "wrong", it's just his subjective opinion. And has about as much worth as mine.

          • That is utter nonsense. If the possibility is too hypothetical then so is EVERYTHING else. Why bother talking about the party platforms until after the election? Why bother discussing ANYTHING until after the election? None of it is 'real' until we elect a new government.

            The facts are this: the Canadian public (or at least enough to attract the attention of the press) want to know if Iggy will form a coalition with the Bloc. Iggy evades answering the question. Iggy will lose the election if he doesn't give an answer (ANY ANSWER). It's s simple as that. Dress it up any way you want – if he doesn't answer the question, he's doomed and crying and whining about how the question is illegitimate won't have any effect at all.

          • Oh please, media apologists and Libs are the only ones suggesting that the constitutionality of a coalition is being questioned. Blue liberals have a right to know if their leader has any intention of forming a binding coalition with leftist spendthrifts like the NDP or the Bloc. Every question asked of politicos during any campaign are about what they plan to do if they win so how is this one any different let alone illegitimate? Bottom line here is he knows Canadians don’t want a Lib/NDP government, let alone a Lib/NDP/Bloc trinity. That’s why he evades the question. He’s not going to get a minority and he doesn’t want the voters to know that voting for him is essentially a vote for a lefty coalition that will run the country from Toronto and have to answer to the bloc.

          • sorry for my being rude

            What, every time?

          • Voters will decide whether a coalition is a legitimate part of the democratic system.

            The issue isn't a coalition. The issue is how Ignatief didn't want to answer a question.

            I don't think this is an election where the conservatives will lose, but rather an opportunity for the Liberals to win. A long shot, because Canadian elections generally are lost rather than won. I don't think Ignatief has what it takes to win. The election isn't even officially called yet and he sticks his foot in his mouth on the first tough question.

    • Because its Andrew's job to run defense for the Liberals?

    • Why would Andrew want to bite the hands that feed him. His news magazine gets Govt. subsidies from the Harper Govt. You don't really think he is a credible journalist, Do you?

      • Actually I do think Andrew is a credible journalist. That's why I read his columns. I don't generally agree with him, but I do think he's generally honest and straight-forward in putting forth his point of view. I think he slipped this time because he seems to be feeding the misperception that coalitions are somehow illegitimate when he knows that isn't isn't the case.

  18. Even making the assumption everyone in this thread is dealing with this issue honestly and not just fegning concern for the Liberals, you are going about this all wrong.

    A coaltion is extremely unlikley. Given that Harper will continue with unjustifiable mistruths if Iggy does anything except rule out a coaltion, why not just say "there will be no coalition" rather than "well, i don;t want a multiparty government but in the following circumstances…."

    It is strategically and ethically the right thing to do1

    • ethics from the Liberal Party of Toronto – ask Dion about the ethics of the Iggy and then check out the skid marks on Dion's back that Iggy left while throwing him under the bus – especially when Iggy started equivocating on his OWN IDEA the carbon tax anyone remember when Iggy started going all wishy washy on the idea when it was clear canadians wanted none of it – THEN Iggy starts going wishy washy on coaltion when it is very clear canadians want none of it – now we have Iggy going wishy washy again … SAYS IT ALL FOLKS !

    • Mr. Harper is still the leader of this country, and as the incumbent, the first to have a shot at forming a coalition should no party gain a majority. Harper should be the first to declare that under no circumstances would he seek to form a coalition.

      He should show some leadership for once.

      • Fair enough, but that does not change my answer.

      • That's true. If he needs the Bloc to prop him up, will he go back to the Governor General?

        • This situation has occurred twice in the past (2006, 2008). He DID NOT ask the Bloc to prop him up either time. The one time the Liberals considered forming a government, they DID ask the Bloc to prop them up. Recent history would appear to be on the Tory's side this time.

          The press should ask this question of Harper, but we all know his quick answer would be: "no." The story ends very quickly. Unfortunately for Ignatieff, and to the detriment of voters looking for debates on real issues, his non-answers are not ending this story.

          This "Coalition Debate" is, in my opinion, about two distinct forms of legitimacy:
          1. The legal, black-and-white, procedural, constitutional legitimacy.
          2. Moral & ethical legitimacy in the voters minds.

          Number 1 is settled. Number 2 has not been put directly and clearly to Canadian voters in an election since 1925, and thus, has not been settled.

          • Except that he has depended on all three of the opposition parties for support at one time or another.

            The moral and ethical legitimacy in the voters' minds is largely due to the extreme distortions the Conservatives used to attack the last attempt at a coalition. Leaders, real leaders, don't scream about attempted coups when faced with a constitutionally legitimate challenge, after all. Harper and his party did.

          • Yes, Harper does tend to go overboard. But that was AFTER the 2008 election. The only forum we voters had was Talk Radio and this interwebby thing. Now we can have official and useful (I hope) debate within an actual election where people are paying attention and have a ballot to render their judgment.

          • A coalition implies cabinet positions. A minority government depends on getting enough votes to pass legislation and non-confidence votes.

            There is a big difference.

  19. He CAN give red door blue door as an answer – provided he's said all of those other things Coyne mentions. If so, then "red door, blue door" means "you've got a clear choice." If not, then it means "red door could really be a whole bunch of different red doors, depending."

    • "Red door" means a coalition with the NDP and Bloc.

      He refuses to deny it, so how can we believe otherwise ?

      • He did so unequivocally this morning on the official launch of the Liberal campaign.

        And Duceppe openly called Harper a two-faced liar, saying that Harper himself was willing to try a similar move in 2004; that his actions then were qualitatively no different than what Dion (not Iggy), Layton and Duceppe tried in 2008.

        Duceppe has made it clear he will hold Harper's feet to the fire every time he tries the "coalition legitimacy" ploy. If it is illegitimate for anyone else, then Harper's own attempt makes it clear that either (a) Harper himself is fine with illegitimae acts as long as it benefits him – proving yet again his contempt for parliament; or (b) it is NOT illegitimate and he is trying to spin the nation.

  20. Andrew, when are you and the lame media going to point out to Harper and his goons, they tried the same coalition with the Bloc in 2004 and it seems fine then, What is the difference then and now. You seems to take delight in helping the Cons,. with their talking points and you wonder why people like me did not renew my subscription with your magazine. I want a balance view and not this hack job you kkeep spinning everytime you write an op.ed.

    • This looks like Coyne is judging which way the wind is blowing, and so is trying to ingratiate himself with the Harper regime. No different than so many other weak-minded people have done for despots throughout history. Besides, it's easier to expand on carefully crafted and provided talking points than it is to use one's own mind.

    • Ok here we go again, in 2004 Harper/NDP/Bloc sent a letter to GG letting her know that there were othewr options, that's it yes it was about a coalition but it was nothing concrete unlike 2008 where they formed a government, they had an agenda, seats distributed, etc..

      • you're splitting those hairs pretty fine, Claudia, especially given that we have no idea what the seat distribution is going to look like.

    • This is part of the letter

      "We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the house, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you a cause, as constitutional practise has determined, to consult opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

      As you can see not even the word coalition appears, even though we are fully aware that's what it means but is not very clear.

      Now the coalition of 2008

      Sorry tried to find it, it wasn't on the liberal page anymore but here is a link and you can read it

      • Well said!

      • Ooh, Stephen Taylor! On my to-do list this afternoon is dropping him from Twitter. Thanks for reminding me. :)

        • The agreement is not on the liberal website anymore, if you can find it somewhere else you can post it, it was the only place I could find the whole thing posted ; )

    • Clearly you didn't cancel your subscription because you don't want to read the content.

    • Ummm…I've seen that mentioned in the media, including here. Not sure if Andrew has brought it up, but there have been stories on it.

  21. If Ignatieff wanted to form a coalition, he'd have done so months ago when he had the chance.

    Instead he walked away from it.

    • Well that wasn't is his answer was it?

      • He's said it many times before…..the media is simply doing the 'angels on the head of a pin' routine.

    • He didn't walk… he picked up his knife and stuck it in his leader's back.

      • Dion wasn't leader when Ignatieff walked away from it.

  22. Interesting comment thread. Yesterday, Wherry posted comments from Harper on coalition governments from another century, compared to now, and he unsurprisingly gave different answers. And most comments were from Liberals who were outraged Harper could change his mind.

    I was reading that thread and thinking at least Harper can give a straight answer, Iggy talks out of both sides of his mouth at same time. Red door, blue door, coalition if necessary, not necessarily a coalition, he signed coalition agreement but was reluctant so signed it last. Blah, blah, blah.

    Of course Iggy will form coalition if it's his only chance at brass ring. We all know it, pols are power mad. You don't become leader of party to turn down opportunity at governing. Iggy is dissembling because he knows coalition is not popular with many people and does not want to speak truth to electorate.

    Nice to see you back here, Coyne, however temporary.

    • There's a distinction between dissembling because it's unpopular and conceeding illegitimacy.

      Nice of you to give Harper the benefit of the doubt…especially since it seems his mind remained unchanged as recently as 04/05. Must have been someting that happened in 08 to really change it for good.

  23. Harper was born in Toronto and got started politically as a Liberal.

    He hates coalitions, except the one he proposed in 2004 with his fair-weather friends, AKA "the separatists and socialists".

    What do the screaming Connies stand for again? Power? Greed? Winning at all cost? Buying votes? Contempt of Parliament?

    The truth is such a simple thing. Lies and deceit, quite another.

    • My only quibble is with your closing sentence.

      In my view, truth is always the most complicated thing. Lies are usually paper-thin and usually reveal themselves sooner rather than later.

      Now, whether the people who were personally invested in believing those lies can emotionally accept when they've been deceived, that's another issue entirely.

  24. If he was going to form a coalition, why wouldn't he do it today, after the current government loses the confidence of the House?

    • switching governments between elections is only done with very minimal timeframes between the last one. Think to the time when Peterson/Rae did it to the Ontario Tories. The ink wasn't even dry on the x boxes. Harper's been governing for 2.5 years. Much different circumstances. The GG would tell him to pound sand.

      • I would agree with you.

        But Harper 2004 sees things differently, now doesn't he?

    • Probably the best answer.. "If there was going to be a coalition leading this country, we would have had it by now."

  25. There can be a lot of arguments in a Liberal strategy 'to lay in the weeds' upto this point. However, from this point forward, there cannot be one false start…one bad day… one ambiguous comment. They have to be clear, strong and focused.

  26. If the glove fits Iggy – you must convict !!! hahahaha – poor Iggy Harper is going to eat this guy alive and all the while who know how many disaffected liberals out there will be secretly cheering just so they can throw him under the bus faster than he threw Dion!

    • You mean like famed Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella? He basically called the Iggiot a moron for calling an election right now. Said Dion/Turner wouldn't have even been that stupid to do it. It cracked me up.

  27. Shame on Coyne for glossing over the so many illigal activities of this one-man government – especially by kicking at possible actions like coalitions, which is long-established as a legal remedy for Canadians against despots in democratic governments.

    Even Harper has led a coalition effort – with the Bloc – when he was in opposition.

    I don't see how Canadians can support – or trust – this Conservative government as long as Harper is their leader. He has proven to be untrustworthy in deed, and now in parliament.

    We expect more from the leadership in our country's highest office. It's too bad Harper's supportors' expectations are so much lower.

    • agreed, ThinkingMan.

      Andrew Coyne:
      The Harper GovernmentTM = 3 Contempt of Parliament charges in one year.
      (pending individual convictions on election fraud and illegal lobbying)

      They've lost the moral right to govern.

    • There is nothing about your post that is on point. It's a discussion of political strategy not of parliamentary legitamacy.

      • Except Harper says a coalition would be illegitimate, opening the door to discussions around the legitimacy of his actions. Do you consider contempt of parliament and scandals that likely will result in convictions for illegal acts the mark of a legitimate government?

    • Yes. Every political commentator must address every possible issue, in every single piece they write, every single time.

      The digitial age has made people exceptionally demanding and exceptionally stupid.

  28. It is not an invention a coalition is a legitimate process in a Westminster Parliament.


    • So Conservatives voters are telling us we're bastards who should freeze in the dark or something?

    • I guess opposition coalitions only count if Harper leads them?

      Duceppe's opening speech of the election campaign made it quite clear that Harper's 2004 attempt was qualitatively no different than what the opposition parties tried in 2008. Duceppe called Harper a liar – his exact words. I don't like what Duceppe stands for, but I have no reason to doubt his honesty. Can't say the same for Harper.

  30. 'Even if such a coalition did not have a majority it could still govern as a minority.

    the only way the GG will hand power to someone other than the leader winning the most seats, is if they can form a stable majority.

    Which means long term agreements in place to guarantee the coalition govt will not fall immediately.

    • How good of you to know the GG's mind for him.

      • Well, he IS a Harper appointee. Do you think he'd choose someone who was not a member of the hive?

  31. Does not matter what Ignatieff says,
    all 77 Liberal MPs who signed the coalition agreement need to answer the question.

    Ignatieff does not decide the coalition question,
    the House as a whole does.

    And if Bob Rae does to Ignatieff what Ig did to Dion,
    it could be Rae or Jack Layton leading the coaltion.

    So ask your Liberal MP,
    'will you support a coalition government?'

    • Ask every Conservative candidate: would you support a coalition government led by Stephen Harper?

      • Indeed. What do you think the answer would be in both situations?

        I'll guess. About half of the liberal MP's would waffle, about a quarter would say yes, and the other quarter no.

        None of the conservatives would say yes.

        What is your guess?

        • My guess? That all Conservatives would say No – and every one of them would renege on that promise if Harper were to revert to his 2004 stance.

          The hive mind follows its Queen (NOT a reference to Harper's sexuality – please don't read more into thas than intended; strictly a metaphor for the CPC structure [sad I have to add this disclamer, but for sure some ConBot would level a false accusation to take this off topic if I didn't]).

          Not that any of the other parties would be likely to play ball with Harper at this point…

  32. Saying no to the coalition will just alienation left liberal and ndp swing voters so that is no solution at all. The greater threat of a con government would be squarely placed on iggy’s shoulders and the ndp would milk that as well. Not to mention iggy will be tagged a coward and regressive by progressives. Plus the cons will just accuse iggy of lying or a hidden adgenda.

    The liberals are really boxed in this time. I expect alot of Dion cursing at the iggy household when all is said and done.

  33. Spelling out how Iggy would approach various minority situations might not be that bad an idea. However, I think the biggest problem he has is that he endorsed the last coalition, so he's already on record supporting the worst kind of coalition prospect there is. It's why the idea was so bad in the first place. They boxed themselves in the second Harper beat back that coalition threat the first time around. In a sense, there's no going back now. Iggy's only other choice is for the Liberal party to enter the next Parliament in the strongest position possible, which would make strange coalitions less likely.

    • Yeah, because Conservative MPs don't do what Harper tells them to.

      Ignatieff's party told him to sign and he signed. He wasn't leader at the time.

      • If you're tying to say that it signified a lack of leadership skills in Iggy to have signed that coalition deal, I think we're in complete agreement, no?

        • Hmmm…if I ever need an interpreter I think hire somebody else, Dennis.

  34. Ignatieff would go a long way to defusing this question by at least taking a hard line stance against a coalition that requires ANY participation from the Bloc to maintain confidence – cabinet seats or no. If you need the Bloc's votes to stay alive on a day-by-day basis, then be absolutely crystal clear that there will be no coaltion on that basis.

    A Lib-NDP coalition? Don't rule it out, and be up front about it.

    • i'll sign up to that JG. Not that i endorse treating the legitimately elected bloq as if they're somehow illegal. But as Coyne says there are other political realities, whether i like it or not.

  35. And if the public is upset, so what? They can't do anything about it for 5 long years. Chances are they'll forget by then.

    Thank you for articulating such a succinct expression of the contempt Liberals feel for the public.

    • I'm not a Liberal, nor am I advocating this approach. Just saying it would probably work. The public has been known to forgive breaking a big flashy promise before (see the current Premier of Ontario, for example), and while this would be as big as there's ever been, 5 years is a long, long time. You've got to think the next election would be decided by other factors.

      • a coalition would not last 5 years though. but if Iggy just wants a taste of power, no matter how fleeting and how damaging to the Liberal brand, then yes, he should heed your advice.

  36. <div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-137527418"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(137527418)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.macleans.ca%2F2011%2F03%2F25%2Figgys-coalition-problem%2F%3Fsms_ss%3Dtwitter%26at_xt%3D4d8cae2643031abd%2C0#IDComment137527418&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20Iggy%E2%80%99s%20coalition%20problem%20-%20Andrew%20Coyne's%20Blog%20-%20Macleans.ca&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(137527418)">Close Message"The Conservatives are at their best when blowing the insignificant out of proportion and trivializing the important issues"

    Unlike say the Liberals, who called an election because a some office staff accidentally used the wrong stationary on government letters and the Libs had the balls to stand up in the HOC and call it "contempt of democracy". What utter nonsense from these clowns and their socialist and separatist cohorts.

    • FB, the "contempt of democracy" bit had NOTHING TO DO with the wrong letterhead thing, for which the staffer was forced to resign. Pay attention.

      Also, you will want to "close" the Facebook garbage before you edit your comment, to avoid HTML-code-from-hell clouding out the expression of your wisdom.

  37. Liberals + NDP + BlocHeads = Coup d'Etat!

    …a communist takeover of the Canadian government is in progress!

    …their coalition agreement of 2008 has an expiry date of June 30, 2011, so it is still in force and is the real reason why there will be an election!

    …COALITION OF LOSERS!…over my dead body!

    • There we go with the communist thing again. We have a communist party or two in this country. They don't have any seats. They aren't part of the mix. Why is that so hard for Conservatives to understand?

    • "communist takeover"? If you're going to go so far over the top with your language, then you'll also have to agree we just kicked out a fascist with dictatorial ambitions, intent on creating a government named after himself and where he is the governing party and the governing party and the government itself are one and the same. Heil Harper!

      Am i way over the top? You betcha! but sadly, perfectly in line with your own absurd rant.

  38. This is the first campaign blunder.

    Did Ignatieff and the Liberal Strategists not expect a question on the coalition?

    Why would they be forcing an election when they can't even have an answer to the very first campaign question.

    This just shows that they are incredibly not ready for prime time.

    • Yes, that was a terrible response to an absolutely predictable question. What in the world were Ignatieff's handlers thinking?

      • I was stunned by the incompetence of Ignatieff's coalition response today. It was even worse than yesterday's dodge. It's not like Ignatieff didn't have time to prepare a better answer.

        • I agree, my jaw literally dropped when I heard that response. If that's the tone they're setting, he'll make Dion look like a rock-star.

  39. Ok , let me ask all of you Harper supporters and “The Media” as I would like them to start asking this question of the Prime Minister as well as Ignatieff or Layton.

    Let us say that the Liberals squeaked out a Minority Win. Will Harper form a Coalition with the other parties to try and defeat/ bring them down right away? Why is this question not being asked as well?

    • Oh, not just that. Will Harper resign if the Liberals and NDP are voting against him and the Bloc is propping him up? Will Harper resign if the Bloc and the NDP are voting against him and the Liberals are propping him up. What about the NDP?

      If Harper is going to label the coalition as evil, then he has to reject support from the other parties because such support would be a de facto coalition. He can't have it both ways.

      • Do you see a difference between a coalition with other party members in your cabinet, and a minority government passing individual pieces of legislation with the support of other parties?

        I think voters do. If the Liberals get the most seats in a minority, no one would fault them getting something passed with Bloc support. Vast difference if they have Bloc members in their cabinet.

        It isn't a semantic difference.

        • Even in 2008, there was no plan to have Bloc members as prt of the coalition – let alone as part of cabinet. They agreed only to support a Lib/NDP government. " isn't a semantic difference. "

          And as Duceppe made clear today, Harper was more than willing to take control of Parliament in the same manner in 2004. That's why he so fears it now; given the same opportunity, he wouldn't hesitate – and he thinks the Liberals are as morally bankrupt as he is.

          Mirrors can be treacherous things.

    • Let us say that the Liberals squeaked out a Minority Win.

      Meanwhile, here on Planet Earth…

  40. Andrew, you think too much ! Coalitions are legal in our Westminster style parliament, therefore Ignatieff is free to make any chess move he wants. It's what Harper does, incessantly, so at the end of the day, coalition smoalition.

  41. no, that's a talking point, and it's a lame one at that

    Sadly elections are all about talking points – as far as talking points go I think its good, you don't, so be it.

    I don't see all that much evidence that voters really want to be informed – I see more evidence that they want simple "one" word answers, regardless of any subtleties.

    I'm not claiming that the leadup to the 2004 situation was at all the same as the leadup to the 2008 situation which may or may not be the same as a possible 2011 or beyond situation. But I am suggesting that the same rules and procedures that were in play in 2004 were in play in 2008 and will be in play again in 2011 or beyond, and that that is how it should be.

    • well, then, for the sake of the Liberals, I hope they dont have the same level of disdain towards voters as you do.

      • I looked up disdain – if that is how I am being perceived, that is unfortunate, because that is certainly not my intent.

        • well then you should be in favour of Iggy giving the voters giving them a clear answer. they are not dumb, even if they are not interested in politics.

          • Clear as in "Yes or No"?

            Or clear, as in "It depends on……..{several paragraphs}……..So, it depends."

            I'm in favour of the latter, not the former. Do you believe that most voters prefer the former or the latter?

          • So now you have admitted the truth: a vote for Ignatieff is also vote for the NDP & Bloc.

            Just to make it clear to you: many voters will leave the Liberals if they think their vote is going to the NDP or the Bloc.

            Ignatieff needs to give a straight answer on this, or it will burn him.

  42. "Pseudo-commies?"

    I'm going to take the advice I gave to Inkless and go drive my tractor now.

    • Rabid pseudo-commies.

  43. One, that the party with the most seats after the election, whether Conservative or Liberal, should be given first crack at forming a government — which is the existing convention.

    That may be the "convention," but doesn't the party from the previous Parliament not have the legal right to a first attempt to secure confidence in the House of Commons, should it so choose? If no party has plurality, and the top two parties are really close in seats, why wouldn't the incumbent party, even if it is down a few seats compared to the other party, take a stab at securing confidence? That can't be any worse, and is likely even a bit better (from a parliamentary democracy point of view), than all other parties' legally legitimate access to governing by overpowering a CPC minority.

    • Except that there is no natural affinity between the NDP and the Conservatives and Harper has defined any alliance with the Bloc as illegitimate, so as the incumbent he wouldn't be able to claim the support of the House in that case.

    • That's happened before. You never heard of the King-Byng Affair and the Constitutional Crisis? Doesn't anybody know any Canadian history around here?

      MacKenzie King had 15 fewer MPs than the Conservatives, but stayed in power for 8 months after the election. Byng refused WLMK's request for dissolution because a motion of non-confidence was being debated. King's government fell and instead of an election, Meighen formed a government that briefly survived.

      Essentially you're correct the convention is that the existing government would continue in power, EXCEPT we now have 86 years of losers accepting their fate and submitting their resignations.

      • Doesn't anybody know any Canadian history around here?

        Well, my fashion-unaware friend, why do you think I even posted my comment? Particularly the "why wouldn't the incumbent take a stab" part.

  44. no real difference. In fact, the coalition made the bloc powerless while Harper left the door wide open to put Canada in the hands of the separatists!

  45. “Red door- Blue door”
    That is the sound of inevitability…and votes trickling away.

  46. "Many commentators think it inevitable, even laudable. After all, it's working pretty well in Britain, isn't it?"

    Some inconvenient historic contempt for the coaliton hawks:

    Cameron had more seats than Brown. In the aftermath the British public showed historic contempt for a Brown-Clegg coalition.

    Brown and Clegg together had more seats than Cameron. Canadians showed historic contempt for a Lib-NDP coalition smaller than the leading party.

    If Ignatieff hides and the coalition hawks hold onto their historic contempt for putting a Conservative gov't ahead of a smaller Lib-NDP coalition they will frame the ballot question as Majority vs. Coalition of Losers.

    And speaking of historical contempt (it's all the rage today) the National Hockey League has announced that the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers will enter a coalition of losers team into the Stanley Cup playoff to replace the Vancouver Canucks who alas have fewer aggregate wins.

    Not all coalitions are coalition of losers. Ignatieff and Bob Rae's signature are on a coalition of losers document. If Door #1 is a Harper Majority don't hold your breath expecting Canadians to take Door #3: Ignatieff with an NDP cart and a Bloc mule.

    • still, these are custom made criteria invented on the spot to favour the CPC, rather than valid arguments. If iggy wore green socks, that would be the reason a coaltion would be illegitimate.

      • Legitimacy is one of those words that can be defined in two separate ways and render a debate like this impossible. So here are the criteria I can think of:

        A coalition is legally legitimate if the Crown says it is.
        A coalition is politically illegitimate if the public says it is.

        I am, sadly, not the Crown. Even more sadly, I am too small a part of "the public" to dictate those rules either. But I guess when we debate this we are debating what ought/ought not be considered "politically illegitimate". Among a group of political blog commenters about to enter an election in which the issue is very real and specific, I am going to guess "political legitimacy" means my guy gets in, and hence this is all a waste of time.

    • It depends on the kind of losers. Peterson/Rae was more acceptable to the population than Brown/Clegg or Dion/Layton/Duceppe because of an important little detail known as context.

    • "Brown and Clegg together had more seats than Cameron. Canadians showed historic contempt for a Lib-NDP coalition smaller than the leading party"

      As far as i know that's not the case. Brown simply wouldn't conceed to Clegg's demands, wheras Cameron was more amenable…down goes another conservative TP.

  47. He should give a straight no, and if he ends up leader of the opposition should vote with Harper only if he feels it within the interests of the country to do so. If harper poison pills parliament in the first few weeks, then it would be legitimate for Iggy to become PM without ever lying.

    • In others words, Mike T. is already on board with my plan.

      • Unless he means Iggy should take us to the polls yet again.

        The argument would be:" Harper has kicked off this session of Pariament the way he did after the last election – by bringing to the House actions that are untenable, against the best interests of this country, and counter to the promises he made in the election. He continues to show contempt for Parliament. Canadians do not want a coalition; we have promised not to form a coalition; and so we have no choice but to go back once again to the people of this nation and have them hold Harper accountable for this continued contempt."

        No lies; potential win.

        But we're getting waaay ahead of ourselves here… let's get through this election before we start speculating on the next.

  48. Ignatieff might spell out certain conditions, therefore, on his participation in a minority government:"

    As he often does AC has put his finger on the nub of the question. Is it possible the only response team lib has come up with is red door/blue door?…lord i hope not, for their sake.
    Surely he's going to stress the house revolves around confidence – whoever has it governs. As you say it would only be sensible for the libs to place defining limits on what they would and would not do. This isn't a zero sum game; you don't necessarily conceed the legitimacy of coalition govts by facing up to political reality – that is that SH has helped to make the whole notion of coalitions toxic in this country when he saved his neck by mis characterising the previous attempt, and frankly lying about it ever since.

    • It has been noted here at Macleans that there is ample reason to believe that SH at least considered the option in o4/05 [ he even signed the bloody letter – whether he intended to follow through is immaterial] and mused on the desirability of coalitions[ including the blocq] as long ago as '97.
      Can we look forward to some sage words from Andrew on this aspect of coalition making?

      • That's the real problem, isn't it? There is no room left for nuance here, but any realistic and honest answer requires nuance. If Ignatieff starts laying out conditions where he'd form a coalition or not form a coalition, or cooperate or not cooperate, Harper will jump up and down screaming about coalitions.

        Harper has poisoned things so badly that there's no way to answer questions.

        • I
          Preumably why AC recommends a simple no.

          I don't disagree with the principle here. But i take AC's point to be that it's no use crying that the sky is now green instead of blue. Argue constitutional legitimacy by all means but the conditions on the ground call for a realistic strategy. I hate the quanadary this country has been put it thanks to Harper's demagoguery and to some extent by the coalitions incompetence.

        • It isn't fair to ask Ignatief hard questions. Please.

          There is a reason why the conservatives harp on this, the same reason why Ignafief didn't have a clear answer today.

          Center left liberals would vote conservatives rather than ndp/lib, and strategic left would vote NDP, leaving the Liberals with almost nothing. There is a real possibility that the Liberals could become irrelevant here.

    • They should only have to do so in response to specific policies by Harper, however.

      And Harper would STILL lie about it.

  49. only conservatives are afraid of a coalition

  50. actually I refer to myself as a non-rabid libertarian.

  51. These are situations in which you, yourself, do not like a coalition. These reasons are suspiciously self-serving. Let's be more accurate in discussion, please.

    • The Venn overlap with "any circumstance other than the time Harper tried it" is, I'm certain, wholly coincidental.

      • Do you think Harper would have kept his western conservative base if he had entered an official coalition with the Bloc?

        I don't.

        Ignatief faces the same issue within his party.

    • So you don't have any examples do you? You can search through the entire history of democratic government in the entire world and you couldn't find one.

      A great start for legitimacy is precedent and you don't have one.

      The problem, you pseudo-constitutional scholars have is "mandate". In every example, I gave, the coalition and its prime minister would have no mandate to govern. Legitimate coalition governments the world over have a mandate. You erroneously assume that a coalition can grab power with no mandate and the GG will play along, especially now with a Harper appointed GG.

      Some are legitimate. For example, NDP + LPC > CPC, but less than majority. CPC falls on the first confidence vote or first budget vote after election, then a NDP + LPC coalition would have a legitimate shot at power, even if they don't control a majority of seats. The reason for legitimacy, is they can make a claim to a mandate, especially if they can pass a budget after a recent election, whereas the previous government could not.

      • I haven't bothered to look, but I'll say this: if you mean legitimate in the sense of legality, I am pretty sure you're wrong. If you mean inadvisable and likely to be punished by voters, then you are probably right.

        Dion was in charge of the liberals in 2008, as you have pointed out. Iggy was reluctant to sign – go back and review the press coverage – and once he became leader opted not to follow through on the agreement, to Layton's consternation. Harper has been trying to rewrite history and paint it as Iggy's plan; it's a lie. Harper has a hard time differentiating between his fantasies/paranoia and reality. Iggy has, ths morning, unequivocally stated he will not form a coalition government, so it's moot anyway.

        Finally, Harper was more than willing to lead a coalition government in 2004; I am pretty certain his paranioa over the issue stems from his certain knowledge that he would himself do EXACTLY that if positions were reversed. he fears it because he sees it looking back at him in the mirror every morning.

        So let's give this a rest and move on to the REAL issues of this election.

  52. You know, I just thought of something. There is the chance that the prospect of a coalition might in fact help Iggy and the opposition. Specifically, after a campaign of accusing the other parties of wanting to form a coalition after an election, if voters still give Harper only a minority, that could well be seen as a mandate for the opposition to do just that: form a coalition after an election. However, for that to happen, Harper will need to hit a glass ceiling of support. What's more likely is that he'll use the prospect of a coalition to put him over the top. But we'll see.

  53. John Baird just felt someone walking over his grave.

  54. "Even though it looks like the same scenario is different, in 2004 there was no agreement signed just a letter to the GG to let her know there were other options, unlike 2008."

    That's pretty weak. If she had considered her options and said yes…would Harper have then said:" No thanks. I'm only kidding?"

    • For Our Information…

      The seat totals after the 2004 election were CPC=99, LPC=135, BQ=54, NDP=19…CPC NDP=128

      The seat totals after the 2008 election were CPC=143, LPC=77, BQ=54, NDP=37…LPC NDP=114

      So, yes, the path taken to arrive at the point where a coalition option might have to be considered by the GG was quite different.

      But once "the nation" and the GG had arrived at that decision point, the various combinations look similar in both 2004 and 2008.

  55. It doesn't have to be the same, it just needs to sound sort of the same. Remember, this is the Canadian voting public we're dealing with here.

  56. Rejected a coalition mean that, more then likely, the Liberals will have to continue to support the Conservative government after the election.

    If the balance of power in the House is the same (as the polls currently suggest) there will be only three options, supporting the Conservatives, forcing another election or forming the coalition again, formally or informally. These are the same three option they face after the 2008 economic update.

    It would be irresponsible to force another election too soon after just having one. If you have rejected a coalition, that leaves you one option: supporting the Conservatives. The onus will be on the Liberals the support them because they only party who rejected the coalition option.

    The threat of a coalition is what allows Parliament to have control over the government in a minority. Without it, it may as well be a majority.

  57. No party in their right mind would campaign on the fact that they will form a coalition with an opponent after an election whose outcome is unknown. It's a ridiculous assumption. Every national party wants to win a majority and that's how they will campaign. When the results are known and there is no clear winner, then other options present themselves. Then, and only then, can the idea of a coalition ever be taken seriously. The coalition scare tactic, which Andrew Coyne apparently endorses, is desiogned fior exactly that – to create fear where none exixts in order to trick people into voting a certain way.

    Also – it is entirely fair to challenge Harper on his letter to the GG in 2002 (I think) advocatring for the exact coalition he is so highly critical of now. Harper must expain his hipocracy on this. Why isn't Andrew Coyne demanding this of Harper? It is totally relevant to this debate.

    • Just saw Ignatieff being bombarded with this question and pointing out to journalists, correctly, that they are buying into Conservative spin, just like Geddes bought their spin about the virginity of Carson. Ignatieff is absolutely correct. The fact is, as pointed by Mr. Ignatieff, that a coalition is possible in our parliamentary system, as the GG recently stated.

      Of course the prime minister being who he is would not take any questions from the journalists.

      If ever he does take unscripted questions from journalists, if there is a professional one in the bunch, they will ask the prime minister if he would ever seek a coalition arrangement. It is more relevant for Canadians to know the intentions of the incumbent who gets a first crack at this should no party win a majority of the seats.

    • Ok man o man, here we go again, letter to GG 2004, here it is

      As you can see is just to make the GG aware of other options, if the government should dissolve, there is no words of coalition or any plans in particular , but we know what it means and yes the bloc was part of it, they didn't have enough sits without them but the 2008 is different because they actually formed a government, like a shadow government you can read the document here and it is quite different

      • Because as we all know, the GG was absolutely clueless as to the options present in her position.

        Be reasonable. The reason for that letter was not to inform the GG of the patently obvious fact that she had "other options" but rather to inform her that he, the Bloc, and the NDP were prepared to enter into a coalition agreement as to who the house had confidence in if she was to ask.

        The only other interpretation is that Harper was essentially calling the Queen's representative a useless tit who was unaware of how her job was supposed to be done.

        Take your pick.

        • Of course 2004 had a coalition in mind the difference is that it never went as far as the one in 2008, they never did plan a formal coalition, they talked about it, thought about it kept the door open, but didn't formed it, and than it's a huge difference!

          • So you're suggesting a coalition has been governing us for the past two years? Really?

            Tell me, who are the coalition members in Ignatieff's cabinet? I seem to have missed the news. Oh wait.. there aren't any.. I wonder why that is?

            That difference is looking pretty damned small. Even smaller when you think that at least Ignatieff has come out now and said he's not interested in being in one. Can we find anywhere where Harper has said the same? Lots of places where he's said it's bad, illegitimate, etc, but nowhere where he's said he won't participate..

            ..and given his participation in in-and-out and attempting to bribe an MP.. I'm not terribly surprised.

        • Don't be thick Thwim! The 2004 document was to be used as a shield, against a snap election call from PM Martin in case his polling numbers shot up. It was also used to force some changes to the rules of the House (the Standing Orders, and committee structure, etc.).

          I point you to Harper's first speech in the 38th Parliament, on the Throne Speech:

          Please read that, and then tell me that he wanted to replace the Martin gov't and overturn the election results!!!

          (cont'd) …

        • Some quotes –

          "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind that our ultimate objective is to replace this government and give Canadians a government they can finally trust and be proud of. At the same time, I will reassure the Prime Minister, all members of the House and Canadians and pledge that my party and I, as the official opposition, will always seek in the meantime to respect the results of the election, to uphold the honour and sovereignty of our country, to defend the interests and the ideals of its people, and to respect the rules and traditions of this special place."

          "I want to thank both the leader of the Bloc Québécois and the leader of the New Democratic Party for working with us on a series of changes to our Standing Orders, which we believe will make the House more effective and more democratic. These were not advanced to favour our partisan interests or to stymie the government but to make this minority Parliament work. I have said that if I were Prime Minister, I would sustain and live by these rules."

          etc. …

  58. I wish I wasn't compelled to agree, but I am.

  59. you're quite right that its childish and that i should stop. i note however that you never call out the bad behaviour from your side of the political spectrum (im shocked).

    • Fair enough…i'm not perfect either

      • I'm perfect, but not in a good way. I'd suggest that you all get tractors…a short period of scraping at the ice or chasing the cat on a little garden tractor can save us all a little trouble. Also, should you choose, you can get a tractor that matches your political preferences. Mine doesn't, but yours can.

        • This just in from the Green Party: Free fuel-cell tractors for everybody!

          • I don't know if John Deere is planning a Fuel Cell tractor, but I have heard that they (and others) are designing electric models.

            Volvo has really cool concept loader in the works though…kind of huge for garden work, but cool.

          • Neat. I have a tonne of snow to get rid of.

  60. Every time the question of coalition comes up or the Bloc is used as some sort of boogey man to scare timid voters, remember from where the Bloc originally came: the heart of Brian Mulroney's Conservative cabinet. Lucien Bouchard, Minister of the Environment, took his marbles and went home after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, and the Bloc was born.

    The logical coalition at the end of the next election is not the Liberals, NDP and Bloc, it's the Conservatives and the Bloc. All Harper has to do by way of spin is to claim he has successfully re-united the Conservative Party of Canada by bringing back in the dissident Quebec wing.

    Remember the Bloc is a nationalist group, not a left-wing one, and is conservative in its view. And Harper already tried this gambit to dump Paul Martin. What I can't understand is why no one writes of this possible outcome of the coming election.

    In all fairness, journalists should ask Stephen Harper to face the same coalition questions they're currently asking Ignatieff.

    • Any journalist who wastes his question to the Prime Minister on this, will have his boss question his sanity. Harper has spent the last 5 years answering the question. He doesn't need a coalition to govern. If he gets fewer seats than Iggy, he submits his resignation. If by some luck, he should get some Liberal stooge to ask the question, his brief and to the point answer shoves the question back in Iggy's face. Is that what you want?

    • BTW maybe you haven't been paying attention for the last 18 years, but the Bloc is no longer a conservative, nationalist group. There's maybe 3 or 4 right leaning MPs left, they are now further left than the NDP. 1993 is a long time ago.

  61. He did.

  62. Count Ignatief says to choose the BLUE DOOR or RED DOOR. Well folks we know whats behind the BLUE DOOR, what we don't know is what is behind the RED DOOR, is this the liberal hidden agenda i.e., a 3 party coalition containing liberal, NDP
    and controlled by the BLOC? Come clean Michael WHAT IS YOUR HIDDEN AGENDA!

    • And what's Behind the Green Door, Blue Door?

    • Get back to work Baird.

  63. A coalition government isn't going to happen because Harper will win with a clear majority. And Gilles Duceppe will be crying in his poutine because the Tories will get that majority without need of a single seat in Quebec. How do I know this? I talked to Charlie Sheen.

    • Thank you for that violent Torpedo of Truth.

  64. Thanks for the defence but as Trudeau said when he heard that Nixon had called him an a**hole
    "I've been called worse things by better people" ; )

    • LOL. Good answer, Claudia! Just ignore Mike T… he's blinded by his own vitriol.

      • I know I usually do : )

  65. That's actually a pretty good response.

  66. It is up to the GG. If Harper goes Saturday to dissolve Parliament the GG DOES NOT have to drop the writ for an election immediately.

    But I bet he (the GG) will (dissolve and call an election). The legitimacy of calling on other parties to attempt to seek House confidence diminishes with every month elapsed since the previous election. I figure the legitimacy of such a move is somewhere right about nil, now.

    • Even if offered, Iggy would be a fool to take it. It would make everything Harper ever said about him look legit, and once the coalition collapses he'd be toast.

  67. If there was any doubt that the Liberals weren’t prepared for this election, or at least this question, it was removed by the histrionic answers I heard today from Ignatieff and Goodale. Boys, when your voice rises up into the stratosphere and you end up essentially shouting, you send a message: “We’re defensive about the coalition”, and ever more obviously so.

    What’s more, they continue, in my view, to give the worst possible response to it – “no coalition, cause we;re gonna win”. Well, no you are not (highly unlikely at least) and you know, you should really give some thought to how your responses tend to continually reinforce those accusations of Liberal entitlement.

    So I agree with Mr. Coyne. They have to answer the question and it has to be better than “red door, blue door”. What would a good answer be? Hmm. Be practical. Given the history of Parliament, it is quite possible that there will be a minority government after this election. Canadians are, understandably, frustrated with the disfunction that has marred the Conservative minority government for the past five years. People want government to work. And they elect the people they want to work for them. (So, John Baird, stop calling them losers). It is our job to take the situation the electoral gives us and find a solution for it. And if that means having a governing group made up of various parties, then so be it. Anything is better than the “let’s keep threatening elections until one of us thinks we can get a majority” that has gone on too long. So coalition? As possible as a minority government is. Terms? Whatever works.

    Methinks the Liberals are wrong to pound the “vote for me not the NDP because only we can stop the Conservatives” drum. First of all it is not true, because a vote for the NDP is just as likely to cause a Conservative minority as a Liberal vote is. Furthermore, I’m sorry guys, but you have to give me a better reason than – booga booga Harper – before I’d ever vote Liberal again.

  68. Or he could answer the question honestly one way or another and defend his answer.

    • How is that not answering the question? Its as legitimate as any other answer. I don't see this being posed to any other party leader, so unless the others MUST answer the question, I don't see why Ignatieff has to be any different than Harper.

      • How would Harper, Duceppe and Layton respond to the same question? I think we all know the answers.

      • What's evasive is being asked a yes or no question and answering with "Hey, look at that over there!" When you dodge a question it implies you believe there is something wrong with the truth.

    • How can he give an honest answer without knowing the situation? How can he give an honest answer when no matter what he says the Conservatives will spin it dishonestly and throw it back in his face?

      • This is the wrong answer, respectfully. The Cons are going to twist and distort and misrepresent no matter what he says… But the Canadian people are just starting to tune in and Ignatieff – as far back as he is – can not afford to be dicking around with evasions and half-truths. He's got one chance to make a difference in the public's perception and that chance comes right now. He can't win this thing in the next week, but he can damn sure lose it. If Iggy's campaign team can't sharpen up by Monday, this thing is gonna be a cakewalk for Harper.

        • this strikes me as the proper way to proceed: http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/96192

          No reason why they couldn't be done by time election day rolls around either…we have parliamentary procedure and precedent from all over the planet to draw from.

          It would require the various parties and the more hysterical factions of the press to shut the hell up and concentrate on issues instead of process. Let the experts figure out what the process is, and live by what they come up with.

          It would most likely look something like: Most seats gets first shot, tie goes to the incumbent, and they can form a coalition should they so choose; if that government falls within time-frame X, then the opposition parties get a shot at forming a coalition. No arguments, no second class (as the Conservatives are trying to make the Bloc) MPs.

  69. Andrew:

    Why does Harpy (if you insist on Iggy, then be fair) not have to state whether he would form a coalition if he found himself in a minority? He first raised this in 2004. Why the double standard?

    • If it was asked of Harper, what do you think his answer would be?

      "I would respect the will of the electorate".

      Now back to Ignatief.

      Harper will get his tough questions on things he doesn't have a good answer for. If he is smart and well prepared he won't flub it like Ignatief did today.

    • Would it satisfy everyone if someone asks the PM tomorrow, and he says "No"?

    • I think the PM was clear when he said alongside UK PM Cameron that the party with the largest seats forming a coalition is a situation that makes sense.

      Seeing as the Conservatives have to win the most seats for there to be a Conservative government, that's all he has to say.

      He could add that the likeliest coalition partner for the Conservatives would be the Liberals, seeing as they've supported them the most in the past two parliaments. But then maybe say that at present "the Liberals it looks like want the office and limo's over and above seeing many of the policies they agree with enacted".

  70. One might almost conclude [ if one was cynical] that the no option was purposefully contrived to free up SH as much as possible should he be returned to office with a minority, and head off any future possibility of a coup against king Steve. Some might call that smart politics when you don't have any natural allies in the house; others might call it a deliberate distortion of our parliamentary system.

    • I don't know that it was premeditated, but that is what it's become.

  71. While I do have issue with any party that formalizes a coalition with the Separatistes, the Liberals have cornered themselves into not answering the question… not because they fear it, but that they fear the follow up, which would go something along the lines of…

    "Does that mean you don't expect to win an outright majority… or a worse… plurality?"

    As much as I get the sense that Donolo has seen "The Matrix" far too many times with this Blue Door, Red Door business, there's nothing worse than telling your campaign workers and voters that you don't have a hope THE DAY BEFORE THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS… Just ask John Gerard and the Liberal Party of Manitoba about that trick…

  72. All of which is true, up to a point. But only up to a point: worse, it's beside the point. There's nothing wrong with coalitions in principle. But not every coalition is the same. What made the coalition of 2008 so dubious were the particulars of the situation: the weakness of the Liberals, the absence of a credible leader, the potential for blackmail given the Liberals' palpable fear of another election, and most of all, the involvement of the Bloc.

    Isn't it a pity our PM didn't make all of those arguements in 08, and in that context. Instead he opted to scream traitors and socialists to save his skin, like a 7 year old boy thats had his toys taken away. That's not the worst of it – he may have rendered part of our parliamentary structure invalid.
    I may sound a little bitter on this but didn't the media drop the ball on this at the time? I'm not so sure you weren't part of the problem yourself Andrew?

    • That's not the worst of it – he may have rendered part of our parliamentary structure invalid.

      Remember, Harper keeps campaigning AGAINST the coalition. There could be no higher compliment to its legal legitimacy than to repeatedly invoke it as a real possibility.

      • I forgot that you made that point before – it's a good one.

        • Thanks. Feel free to return to it as needed for comfort. No charge!


          • Oh I do, when insanity starts on this threads I really get comfort from your telling like it is statements : )

  73. He can go to the GG and ask for an election.

  74. Ummm, perhaps I'm missing something…

    Here is my basis:
    – in the preceding 2000 election the results were CON=78, LPC=172, BQ=38, NDP=13 (Liberal Majority)
    – after the June 2004 election the results were CON=99, LPC=135, BQ=54, NDP=19 (Liberal Minority)
    – the letter is dated Sep 9, 2004

    So certainly Harper didn't lose the 2004 election on the basis of the 2004 letter. And I truly don't recall whether the Conservatives campaigned about coalitions (either for or against) – I'd guess that the topic never came up in any substantive way.

    Rather, a few months after the Liberals got elected to minority government status, the Conservatives et al are advising the GG to consider all of her options should the government fall, which is perfectly fine – of course the GG should consider all constitutionally available options and then select the one that is most appropriate for the specifics of the situation.

  75. Why doesn't Ignatieff just reply with "I am as likely to form a coalition with any other party as Mr. Harper is."

    Because it's just not credible. They are not at all "just as likely." You want likelihoods? Try this. The probablity of:

    CPC Solo Majority roughly = to CPC Solo Minority > LPC Coalition Majority > LPC Coalition Minority.

  76. I guess you need to look up the definition of the word LIKELY.

    Harper will not need to form a coalition, whereas it would be Ignatieff's only (outside chance) hope. There will not be a coalition involving the CPC. If there is a coalition, it will involve the LPC. So, "I am as likely etc." is not a credible statement.

    • That's goofy for a couple of reasons though.

      First of all we're at the beginning of an election…the writ hasn't even dropped yet…and your (or anybody else's) claims that you know how it will turn out are as much partisan spin and wishful thinking as anything else.

      Second of all…and this where Harper and his people really fall down…is that our system depends a lot on precedent instead of hard and fast rules. The precedent they are setting here is dismally myopic and just downright stupid because they are essentially creating two classes of MP and attempting to delegitimize bi-partisan cooperation. It turns governing into a hockey game instead of a careful consideration of policy.

    • Except it is. Just because polls say one thing now, does not mean that in 6 weeks they will be the same. I am not saying the Liberals are going to get a majority, but to make such ridiculous claims now, just because you think that thats how its going to stay and that one rule applies to one party and not the other is foolish.

      The reply I stated is true. Are you stating the opposite? Bearing in mind that the cons have done the exact same thing in the past.

        • I'm saying that in a situation where an official opposition needs to look to other parties to form a coalition government the Libs are as likely as the Cons to do so. I think its pretty simple.

          Feel free to use as much semantics as you like though.

          • Well, now you are making up a new sentence entirely. Plus, you also stated that you expect an nonsensically wild swing in public opinion during the campaign as justification for your first nonsensical sentence.

            So you have improved slightly with your latest attempt (and don't worry, we can just gloss over the it's-just-semantics defense fail…). But you're still wrong. The CPC does not have natural allies in the House like the LPC does. No way does any other party (except, curiously, the LPC!) come close to forming a healthy political alliance with Harper in the House.

          • Uh huh. Sounds like more spin to me. My statement has not changed. And there is no justification, but you certainly sound like you are attempting to justify your claim of a LPC led coalition with the 'natural allies' claim.

            Spin away.

  77. On the CBC Action Panel you and the others have commented on people not trusting Stephen Harper but not one of you has raised the obvious question or challenged Ignatief to deny or explain his statements that "the only thing he likes about Canada is Algonquin Park" and "Canada's Peace Keeping reputation is totally bogus", also that "our flag represents a limp beer label". Would anyone in Canada want a Prime Minister who feels that way about Canada or trust him??? I can't believe you let him make statements like that unchallenged.

  78. Is the video of the Ignatieff scrum available online anywhere? I've been looking, but it seems to be conspicuously absent from the CBC site so far. I'd like to see it for myself.

    • If the scrum was in the foyer, and I will asume it was, try out CPAC's web site, or keep the cable channel on for as many hours as you can stand.

      • I've found yesterday's scrums on CPAC, but nothing from today yet. Thanks for the suggestion – I'll check it again tomorrow!

  79. There is a growing theory that the extortionist Duceppe, who would sell to Harper for 5 Billion, has sold to Layton for that price and a bit more. The theory gains credibility when Layton was given 50% of his budget requests, but rejected them claiming it wasn't good enough-can he do better as a major architect of the coalition?

  80. I don't recall Harper making it a campaign platform plank in 2004. Was he campaigning on it? If not, then EeeOar's suggestion keeps the voters far better informed than Harper did under the same conditions.

  81. Eat this Libbies!

    The Harper Conservatives are at the threshold of a majority government as the country plunges into the fourth election campaign in seven years, according to an exclusive Toronto Star/La Presse poll.

    The Angus Reid poll shows that the majority will most likely be won or lost in Ontario with a particularly pitched battle in the 905 belt around Toronto, where the Conservative have worked overtime on the reeling in the ethnic vote.

    The survey of 2,365 Canadians reveals the Conservatives are in the lead nationally with 39 per cent support, the Liberals at 25 per cent, and the New Democrats at 19 per cent. The Bloc Québécois has 10 per cent support and the Green Party 7 per cent.

    Published moments ago in the Red Star. 2nd majority poll prediction in as many days.

  82. Do you actually believe that if the Conservatives get second best they would attempt to form a coalition?

    • Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for.

  83. I don't know if a leader could put forward that "if we're within 90% of them" argument, just b/c it looks like you're a loser party making up your own rules.

    90% of the 2008 scores would've been 129 seats for the LPC, or 52 more. That's quite a lot for them to get! Of course, if they get a seat it will likely mean that the CPC seat number will go down.

    When the Ontario Liberals ousted the PC's in 1985, they were only 4 seats behind, and had actually won the popular vote in that election.
    (cont'd …)

    • (cont'd)

      In the 1972 election, on election night, it looked at though the PC's would win the most seats (109 to 107), but in the final count overnnight those results were reversed. But if the PC's under Stanfield had come out ahead, would Trudeau have resigned? I doubt it, seeing as he won 3% more of the vote, and the NDP was there with the seats needed to make a majority. The NDP had the balance of power, and could've backed either Trudeau or Stanfield.

      If they backed Stanfield, it's possible they might've killed off Trudeau's political career. More likely though, is that such a move would've increased popular support for Trudeau and the Liberals, and that the NDP couldn't work with the PC's for much longer than a couple of years. I'm sure the fact that the PC's and NDP only secured 2 seats total in Quebec also played a big factor.

  84. Nicely put!

  85. Liberal IGGY IS A LIAR; when he says he has ruled out forming a coalition government; he has flip-flopped because he supported the idea previously and stated he would be prepared to lead a coalition government. Iggy now states he offers a Liberal government, not a coalition government; well Canadians can bet he has made big money deals & other underhand deals to the NDP & Bloc if they agree to support Iggy & let him be king of the castle behind closed doors!! Well Canadians, where do you think all this money is coming from & guess what province will receive $5-billion of your tax dollar$?? These left-wing, naive, bleeding hearts will also drain our treasury with their liberal & socialist causes.
    Stop this insanity from the Liberals, NDP & Bloc!!!

  86. Jack the weasel
    Jack the rat
    Stealing power
    Is where you're at

    Extortion fees
    Are never too high
    Pay off the Bloc
    Watch out country die

    Jack the weasel
    Jack the rat
    Stealing power
    Is where you're at


    This is true:

    A separatist/provincial party – the BQ – runs within federal elections, thereby makes it less likely for any of the truly federalist parties to gain a majority, and because minorities are more likely, the BQ has thereby secured itself a position to form the balance of power.

    In short: a separatist/provincial party is being paid by Canadian tax dollars, to secure a minority government more often than not, and by doing so , the same separatist/provincial party will have greater influence over our Canadian parliament.

    I have never ever seen such underhanded form of democracy at work. Not in any country. Not within any democratic mindset either.

    But if Mr.Coyne believes he sees it differently, then I would urge him to write a lenghty address about this Canadian problem so that we may finally come to the root of all things being equal.

    • How often – and on how many different threads – do you plan to post this drivel?

      You can't forbid the BQ to run – or, if elected, to sit in the house – and still maintain Canada is an open, democratic society. To do so would be censorship of the worst kind – and a breach of the Charter.

      No one says you have to like them – God knows I don't – but that's the price of a democracy.

  88. “Let me be perfectly clear. Unless Canadians elect a stable, national majority government, Michael Ignatieff will form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois."

    What do you think Harper means by that statement, Mr. Coyne? Do you think Harper means that if the Conservatives win the most seats but only a minority that he will refuse to form a government and so the GG will have to ask the opposition to come up with something?

    I would not put it past Harper to refuse to govern with another minority – but I am a bit surprised that he is openly implying this at the start of the election. It would be useful to get a clarification as to whether Harper would agree to try to govern with another minority or not.

    • Catherine, he means that if he's returned with only a minority, that the opposition in the House will defeat him at the first opportunity, and then Ignatieff will be installed as PM, and the NDP and Bloc will back him then.

      I thought that was crystal clear coming from Harper. He said he would be honoured with a minority mandate, but that he didn't think the opposition would accept it, and so the only way to have Harper continue as PM is to elect a majority Conservative gov't.

  89. Previous jobs of the 4-Federal political leaders:
    1. Joke Layton was a car salesman. Hmmmmm.
    2. Iggy taught school. Knows how to expel a lot of hot air.
    3. Gilles DupesUs – no one cares about him outside of Quebec.
    4. STEPHEN HARPER is a qualified economist, an expert in the field of economics!

    • You start out by saying "previous jobs", but Harper, while holding a master's in economics, has never been employed as an economist as far as I can tell. And given he was denying we were in a recession long after everyone else said otherwise, there's probably a reason for that.

      As for him being the only one with experience as PM – no one has experience as a PM before becoming PM. That was true of Harper in 2005. Are you saying we were wrong to elect him then? (I would – but not for that reason)

    • Out of the $136.3 million Harper's government spend advertising the Economic Action Plan; there wasn't one ad that said: Canadians we are lucky we the Conservatives took the advice of the coalition parties to provide stimulus spending during the world wide economic crisis. At first we the Conservatives didn't see the economic crisis coming and when we realized it was upon us; Mr. Harper's advice to Canadians was; those who could afford to get into the stock market.

      We Conservatives didn't care if companies would go bankrupt during the economic crisis; we didn't care if people lost their jobs. Thankfully the coalition parties convinced us to provide stimulus spending and out of the stimulus spending; our Economic Action Plan was set into motion.

  90. The coalition issue is real. It is not some fiction created by the Tory war room. It is a cancer eating at the Liberal campaign, and it is only going to grow over time. That's why Ignatieff doesn't want to answer the question.

    Excuse me Andrew, how many times does he have to answer that question. show us by link where he did say he would form a coalition? NOTthere right?

  91. While your at it Andrew, why is Harper not answering question and walking away? Because his big mouth proves himself the liar he is ? I can also form my opinion such as yourself. You of all people should know better.
    A CPC fake for a coaltion party of Reformers, Alliance, and Peter mckay. Now that's what I call a coalition Fake party. You know Andrew most of us know how to goggle for staements made by Harper and words he stated are there for all to read.

  92. was reading that thread and thinking at least Harper can give a straight answer, Iggy talks out of both sides of his mouth at same time

    Thats a laugh, Harper does not answer questions asked by the reporters unless the questions have been formed by the king himself and he has had the time to practice before his mirror how he will answer..Harper is a joke and so are his trolls and supporters

  93. I thought the Red door Blue door response was perfectly clear and understandable. Ignatieff is not campaigning for a coalition government, but for a Liberal one. To provide any encouragement to coalition thinking is to invite failure. I thought it was quite sensible. Forming a coalition in a Westminster Parliamentary democracy comes when the party with the most seats, a slim minority, immediately fails to gain the confidence of the House – that's when other parties can attempt to form a coalition, to see if a government can be formed and avoid another immediate election. Now, tell me, why should anyone absolutely rule that out in advance? A coalition is a response to an inconclusive election, not a strategy for winning.

    This is just one of the ways that PM SHrug has corrupted the public understanding of how our system works. The C.R.A.Party has re-written the rules of Parliament to the extent that we are gradually losing some of the fundamental checks and balances on our system. We will devolve into a country of mob-rule if we're not careful. We pay a price for our freedom. Don't let us lose it by shrugging off fundamental principles as "just a vote in parliament". Harper, the only PM in all Canadian history to be found in contempt of these fundamental principles of our Parliamentary system, is a true disgrace. This is his legacy, please Canada, let it be his last.

  94. just to be fair and balanced, if we call Mr. Ignatieff, Iggy we should call Mr. Harper Harpy

  95. Harper is a lying hypocrite.

    The only party leader not to have signed a coalition agreement in this election is Michael Ignatief. Harper once again is treating Canadians like we are idiots, that we can't read or something. That letter from 2004 is a coalition proposal – no matter what Harper and Coyne say. He wanted to form a government with the Bloc and NDP. That is a coalition government, by definition.

    Lets stick to the facts without the con spin, the only party leader not to have signed a coalition agreement in this election is Michael Ignatief. Harper is and was the first to the coalition party and I hope he keeps harping about it. It just makes him look more idiotic every day.

    Harper is a lying hypocrite.

  96. Ignoring all party spin, I think the evidence that a coalition is part of the Liberal post-election plan has to be obvious when considering the existing ‘facts' both before and after the election,. Fact- a few days previous both the polls and the political pundits, were predicting there wouldn't be an election. Why, because everybody knew there'd be no clear winner and both Jack and Iggy have to achieve some sort of win or their political careers would be over. Fact- Duceppe's position would be enhanced if he could get to play a active role in government. Fact-The only solution for all three lay in a coalition. Fact-Then consider Iggy's reluctance to give a definite answer when a simple ‘no' would have ended discussion. Fact- Then consider that Harper didn't opt for a coalition in 3 elections. If he had been willing to compromise, he'd still be in power.
    Factors in deciding possible guilt in a criminal case usually start with motive, and the above is all the motive any detective would want to consider Iggy first choice for being guility.

  97. Ignoring all party spin, I think the evidence that a coalition is part of the Liberal post-election plan has to be obvious when considering the existing ‘facts' both before and after the election,. Fact- a few days previous both the polls and the political pundits, were predicting there wouldn't be an election. Why, because everybody knew there'd be no clear winner and both Jack and Iggy have to achieve some sort of win or their political careers would be over. Fact- Duceppe's position would be enhanced if he could get to play an active role in government. Fact-The only solution for all three lay in a coalition. Fact-Then consider Iggy's reluctance to give a definite answer when a simple ‘no' would have ended discussion. Fact- Then consider that Harper didn't opt for a coalition in 3 elections. If he had been willing to compromise, he'd still be in power.
    Factors in deciding possible guilt in a criminal case usually start with motive, and the above is all the motive any detective would want to consider Iggy first choice for being guility.

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