The Coalition of the Credulous


I don’t know what’s more impressive about this: the cynicism or the naivete

A budding coalition between New Democrats, the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Liberals is an exercise in nation building, NDP Leader Jack Layton told his caucus in a conference call covertly recorded by the government.

Layton’s national unity musings were secretly recorded Saturday by the Conservatives. They held the tape for a day and then had an official from the Prime Minister’s Office deliver it to various media on Sunday.

“The ‘Coalition for Canada,’ I love the idea – (but it) could be a deal-breaker for the Bloc,” Layton is heard saying to laughter.

“‘The Coalition for Canada and Quebec?”‘ he adds, to more laughter.

Layton, however, appears deadly serious when he pitches the coalition as a potentially unifying force in federal politics.

“Nothing could be better for our country than to have the 50 (BQ) members out of 75 who’ve been elected in Quebec actually helping to make Canada a better place. We just approach it on that basis and say, ‘We’re willing to make that happen. Here are the things we’re going to be investing in and transforming together.’

“If they’re willing to work with us, we’re willing to accept that offer.”

Let’s be clear. It was wrong of the Tories to listen in on the NDP conference call, wronger still to tape it, even if we believe their story that they were inadvertently given the code for the call. That crosses the line, from hardball to creepy — if not CREEPy. (I know we in the media do this sort of thing all the time, but is that the standard we want to hold elected officeholders to — the media’s?) That they then released the transcript is at best ill-advised, in a week in which they are being universally reviled as ruthless opportunists.

But lordy. Could Layton sound like a bigger maroon? (Do the deal if you must, but do it with your eyes open.) As for the Liberals, do they really want to get into bed with this bunch? Mainstream Grits should think hard — very hard — about where this is taking their party.


The Coalition of the Credulous

  1. Ha! I love learning a new word.

    And I agree 100%.

  2. I think Layton just lost any claim to being Public Safety Minister, Defence, or Foreign Affairs… anything that involves not having a conference call over the future of a country’s governance,

    And hey – if they’re looking for a name for the coalition, why not “National Government” then Lawrence Cannon could take another shot at explaining what a nation is.

  3. Wait a minute, didn’t this post say “poltroon” instead a maroon.

    Well, whether it cam from you, Andrew, or my own imagination, I like poltroon better.

  4. Coyne:

    I think what has been done here goes beyond ‘wrong’ into ‘criminal’. Two people at least seem to have broken the Criminal Code.

  5. Andrew (not P or C):

    That hasn’t been established yet.

    Steve M.:

    I checked the meaning of poltroon — it means coward, not fool, which was the sense I wanted.

  6. Andrew, “this bunch” received more votes and more seats than any other federal party in Quebec. What are we supposed to do, wish them away?

  7. Coyne himself believes that the current electoral system in Canada is archaic. Well, if there was an electoral reform and there was a just representation in the Parliament, We had to have a coalition government and mot likely a Liberal-New Democrat coalition (Nobody is getting in bed with Coyne’s beloved: Tories). So Coyne should stop complaining about this coalition. Indeed contrary to Harper’s populist outcries this is the most democratic government we can have.

  8. Did Coyne actually write “maroon?”

  9. To be fair to Layton, I’d say that optimism and naïveté are two distinct entities. Frankly, I think it’s refreshing.

  10. Did Mr. Coyne actually refer to Mr. Layton as a “maroon?”

  11. **And pragmatism is often confused with cynicism.

    Thankfully, pragmatism and optimism can coexist happily.

    There are a hell of a lot of isms. I’m must say, though I’m glad we’re not bandying about bastardized fear-mongering terms like socialism to describe wha’ts being proposed here.

  12. Given that the Mulroney’s PC party stitched a coalition with separatists that ended up famously, what’s the big deal? That they are doing it in full view of the electorate? The audacity!

    I think Layton has a point that it is remarkable that the BQ has shown an understanding that what is good for Canada is also good for Quebec. And I also do not believe that the BQ would have entertained the idea without Dion.

    The overriding point is that a party that is more willing to pick off its democratically elected opposition rather than focus on the good of the country should be wiped off the Canadian political map. Period.


  13. I thought Andrew supported proportional representation. We are going to get a trial run of Andrew’s idea.

    Metaphorically, Harper made it a game of kill, or be killed.

  14. I think “maroon” in this context is just a corruption of moron. At least that’s how my friends and I (scholarly gentleman, all) use it. In this case I think Coyne’s usage is apropos.

  15. Shawn,

    No they are legitimate MP’s, but they make no bones about their agenda. Nobidy is saying you have to deal with them at this level.

    As AC said, not sure which to focus on the child like, actually student council like, naivite or the cyncism of it all…

    The Coalition may well end up being being 10 – 12 Blue Liberals who cross the floor for a time period formally or informally to settle it out.

    Could be a two party system soon enough, the National Unity’s (Blue Liberals and Cons) vs the Soverignty Associationists, NDP, Bloc and Left Libs.

  16. Austin, can we forego the suggestions of wiping parties off of the map? Isn’t that the very sort of idiocy that got us where we are today? I hate Harper’s conservatives, but I can dislike rabid lefties just as much when they start yapping about wiping people they disagree with “off the map”.

  17. I thought Andrew supported proportional representation.

    Andrew, a good, decent Canadian, is thrilled with what’s going on. He’s just posting these blogs to sitr up discussion.

  18. Andrew,

    In an election, Canadians vote for MPs to form a Parliament. The party with the largest caucus is, by custom, given an opportunity to form a government by seeking the confidence of the House.

    There’s not automatic granting of confidence — even if your party has the most seats.

    Harper and his confederacy of dunces have quite unilaterally LOST THE CONFIDENCE OF THE HOUSE.

    All the rest (election financing, right to strike, fiscal stimulus, taping private meetings) is window dressing.

    At no point do you address the crux of the matter: Why has Harper done what he has to lose the confidence of the house; how might he regain it quickly enough to stay in power; why on earth is this guy playing parlour games (badly) when we have a war on (one that’s spreading), looming trade problems with our biggest market’s new government, a collapsing manufacturing sector coupled with falling commodity prices, etc., etc.?

    Instead of impugning the motives of opposition politicians — fun, but easy sport — why not weigh in on the “is he having a stroke?” and “what can he do to pull it out of the fire?” lines of inquiry vis a vis our suddenly benighted PM?

  19. This is like Watergate……except without the cover-up. Nixon should have come out and said……”Last night we burglarized and wiretapped the Democrats”. How does Harper get away with this crap? Beyond my comprehension.

  20. I think “maroon” in this context is just a corruption of moron. At least that’s how my friends and I (scholarly gentleman, all) use it. In this case I think Coyne’s usage is apropos.

    I know what it’s a corruption of, Olaf. I’m just beside myself thinking an eminent Canadian such as Mr. Coyne would stoop to using such debased language.

  21. We in Quebec are living in a period where the traditional polarization is beginning to dissolve. Federalists are embracing the idea that Quebec is a nation. Sovereignists are recognizing the a majority of Quebecers want to move beyond divisive referendums and find some reasonable common ground.

    This is a watershed moment for the BQ as well, as Layton rightly points out.

    Why NOT deal with them?

  22. FYI: “What a maroon” or “ultramaroon” are Bugs Bunny’s favoured put-downs.

  23. And what, pray tell, should Layton have said? Badmouthing the Bloc IN FRONT OF YOUR ENTIRE CAUCUS , when you are trying to put together a deal with them is a little silly. And that’s even when you DON’T know that you’re being secretly recorded.

  24. Whatever, we’ve entered the Twilight Zone anyway. Andrei Tarkovsky is the new Eugene Forsey.

  25. AC, I think when Gerry Ritz was making jokes about PEOPLE DYING on a conference call/meeting you were all, this isn’t a big deal. Are jokes out now?

    Seriously, AC, you are lining up with the CPC almost every time you post anymore.

  26. “Mainstream Grits should think hard”. Scott Reid said it all in the Globe. Harper does not want to win, he wants to conquer. The Grits fight now or it’s all over for them. It’s Harpers Waterloo

  27. I would disagree about Mr. Coyne’s use of Maroon.. probably more related to a Freudian slip.

    Every time he is forced to consider the very existence of the NDP he gets an instant mental flash of swarms of Maroons sweeping down from the Jamaican hills.

    He can’t help himself.

  28. At the end of a long week Liberals will get exposed as; greedy, desperate, and blind fools, how very fitting??

  29. Shawn,

    So your saying this is part of the great kum ba yah and that now the BQ will put down there ams in brotherhood with their ideological mates the NDP, sign the constitution and pledge fealty to Canada……

    (slaps head) how could I have missed it.

  30. Uh… Mark…did I say any party in particular? But thank you for filling in the blanks.

    A party _any_ party, that seeks to destroy legitimate opposition over and above governing in the interests of Canadians should be wiped off the political map. So spare me the “lefty” epithet…I would be all for the return of the PC party of Canada to replace this travesty of a political party.


  31. Yup, the new issue of the day is Layton’s rhetoric, like we haven’t had the pleasure of it ad nauseum.

    As for mainstream Grits thinking hard about where this new arrangement might take them, it’s just within the realm of possibility that for the moment at least, they’re more concerned about where it takes the country – out of Harper’s grasp.

  32. A conspiracy to do the right thing and get to country back on track, which they also happen to be reporting on by the hour. Big whoop.

    I think all eyes are wide open here actually. It just happens to be that there are miles of common interest between all the other parties left of Harper, which are not very left at all actually.

  33. Here’s what I don’t get.

    Everyone on the left thinks this is great democracy. Really? With the exception of the Conservatives, every other party depends on the Dole to run a campaign? How is it that Canadians, who apparently love their marxist overlords (after all the Conservatives got something like a paltry 35% of the popular vote), are wholy unwilling to put their money where their mouth is? After all, if Obama was able to outspend McCain 7:1 without resorting to government handouts, surely Layton and Dion, who claim to want to make Canada a better place, could, you know, match the Conservatives in this realm.

    It is often pointed out that Canada’s system is flawed, in that you simply need a plurality to win. The Conservatives have a larger percentage of MPs elected with a simple majority than any other by a factor of 2. And something like 3 times the number with an overwhelming majority (70%+).

    Yes Harper miscalculated, but he blinked the wrong way. Everyone knows that the 3 loosing parties are upset about loosing their handouts. They complained about everything else. They should have reversed everything except the cuts to the political parties and called their bluff. That would have shown them for the completely self serving vampires they are.

    Not that I’m upset or anything.

  34. “As for the Liberals, do they really want to get into bed with this bunch? Mainstream Grits should think hard — very hard — about where this is taking their party.”

    Personally, I don’t think BQ should be allowed anywhere near the levers of power but I can understand arguments from NDP and Cons that the separatists are just like any other party.

    However, I really wonder what the Libs are thinking. One of their few remaining bases of support is Montreal and I am curious to see how they react to this. Also the Libs are always selling themselves as the only party that can hold back the rising tide of Quebec separatism and they are about to lose that selling point.

    The Libs are going to lose a major selling point of theirs in order to usurp power from the government right when the country appears to be headed into a recession. What are the eggheads within the Lib party thinking?

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