The trouble with imaginary cooperation


Bill Tieleman finds various reasons to reject Nathan Cullen’s pursuit of joint nomination meetings.

First, electoral cooperation plans have always failed miserably. In the 2011 election, several groups promoted strategic voting — endorsing the candidate they felt had the best chance of defeating a Conservative, or retaining a close opposition seat threatened by a Tory. Project Democracy says over 405,000 people consulted their strategic voting website, and many others heard about their efforts. But while Project Democracy targeted 84 ridings, they were successful in only 26 of them, where non-Conservatives were elected. Conservatives won the other 58 ridings — or 69 per cent. Interestingly, Project Democracy admits it endorsed the “wrong” candidate in 11 ridings, meaning they promoted the candidate who it turned out had less of a chance to defeat a Conservative than another opposition candidate. Oops…

Second, it’s highly unlikely that the NDP or Liberal parties will agree to the joint nomination proposal. Aside from it requiring party constitutional changes, a majority of members would probably reject the idea.

Third, as Aristotle said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, you can’t simply add up Liberal, Green and NDP votes in any riding and presume they will all go to a “unity” candidate against the Conservative.

Note: Tieleman has endorsed Peggy Nash.


The trouble with imaginary cooperation

  1. Aaron, now would be a spectacular time for Macleans to commission a poll to determine if Canadians endorse this concept.  Because if they don’t, it is dead.  If they do, I expect the parties will consider how to get it done.


    • Why should Maclean’s be in the business of doing research for Canada’s left-wing? Wow.

      • Why not? The Sun and the NP regularly do shill polls for Cons. Angus Reid anyone???

        • So Macleans is now a shill for the left-wing, is it, and it’s not just Aaron Wherry? Thank you. Oh, and by the way, only a left-wing type would categorize all outlets they don’t agree with as being shills for the other side. Again, thank you.

  2. I don’t think joint nomination meetings have much of chance at moment, if ever. I was surprised that I agreed with much of what Tieleman wrote because I am not use to agreeing with dippers. 

    NDP just got into power, why would they want to share with Libs? Cullen’s idea might have been good one right up to May 2011 but now it is craptacular. 

    And I believe the animosity between Libs and NDP base is powerful, do two groups of political foes hate each other more than NDP and Libs? I know 2 dippers and they will never ever vote Liberal, no matter what, and I am certain there are lots of others just like them. 

    Pols are only interested in power while base are ideologues. 

    • I actually agree with you on this comment but all I have to say to you today is:

      AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal

      Sunderland 2-0 Arsenal

      Even Lee Dixon says he loves watching Spurs.

      • I’ve been following Arsenal since ’95 and this is first season I’ve felt existential despair about Gooners – 8-2 spanking by Man U was shocker, I will never forget.

        Also, I am not at all happy that I have to listen to uppity Spuds supporters. My best friend supports Spuds and the world seems upside down and inside out since I have to listen to his constant snark this season.

        And it’s Arsenal,
        Arsenal FC, 
        We’re by far the greatest team, 
        The world has ever seen….

        • I    –    O    I    –    O
          We are the Tottenham boys
          I    –    O    I    –    O
          We are the Tottenham boys
          And if you are a Arsenal fan
          Surrender or you’ll die
          Cos we all follow the Tottenham
          We are Tottenham,
          We are Tottemham,
          Super Tottenham from the Lane,
          We are Tottenham, super Tottenham,
          We are Tottenham from the Lane.
          It’s a grand old team to play for,
          It’s a grand old team to see,
          And if you your history,
          It’s enough to make your heart go whooa-oh,
          We don’t care what the other teams say,
          What the hell do we care,
          For we only know that there’s gonna be a show
          And the Tottenham Hotspur will be there.

    • I think your sample is a little suspect.

  3. I think many Canadians would like a new party….a complete merger of Libs, Dippers and Greens…with a new name and direction, and without the baggage and old war horses of the previous parties.

    Barring that I think they like Cullen because he’s at least willing to try cooperation in order to move forward.

    • Whatever you’re smoking must be good stuff.

      • Polls have shown that most Canadians are open to the idea.

        Do you really think we’ll go on this same way for the next century?

        • My question is, why are those polls two years old now?  Where are the new ones?  What I mean is, why was it okay to poll the question back when nobody was talking about it, but now that we’re talking about it, nobody does a poll?

  4. A rather liberal test would be to look at how many NDP supporters have the Liberal party as their second choice and vice versa. During the 2008 campaign period survey of the Canadian Election Survey, people preferring the Liberals as their first choice had the following second choice preferences…
    NDP: 38.6%Tories: 24.3%BQ: 3.8%Green: 14.8%Nobody: 11.6%Don’t know: 6.3%Other/multiple: 0.6%For NDP leaners it was:Liberal: 38.1%Tory: 18.7%Bloc Quebecois: 5.1% (this would be higher in 2011)Green: 19.5%None: 13.3%Don’t know: 5.3%
    What that suggests to me is that the net bleed-over is pretty small. Taking out the Liberal candidate in an average riding will help the Tories almost as much as it does the NDP. Then you have to consider the organizational costs of this approach. Prospective Liberal and NDP volunteers aren’t likely to be as active if they live in parts of the country that either party has abandoned. And the loss of prospective members represents a long-term cost, whereas any such agreement would likely be tenuous). Moreover, the campaign spending ceiling is set based on the number of ridings a party runs in, so both the NDP and Liberals would be less able to spend. 

    Lets look at a really favourable example – Etobicoke-Lakeshore in 2011. It was a close race, and it would be the NDP not fielding a candidate, presumably (this scheme works better with the NDP off the ballot). Assuming those second choice numbers hold, you’d get:
    CPC: 44.14%
    LPC: 42.8%
    Green: 7.91%
    Not voting/uncertain ex-NDP: 3.77%

    So essentially you’re denying 11,000 people their first choice of candidate in order to shrink a 4.5 point loss to a 1.5 point loss – and that number ignores the organizational and financial costs of such a move. And that is on top of other problems, such as whether such a plan would experience backlash (the fallout from Dion’s deal with May suggests that it probably would). 

    Both the Liberals and NDP have limited political capital with which they can improve the internal workings of their parties. I suspect that there are far better ways to become more competitive, although this solution will probably remain appealing as a magic bullet for those that despise Harper above all else. 

    • This is exactly why we need a poll, asking the question under consideration, not some gerrymandering of answers to some other question.  You may be right, and if the Canadian population (and most specifically the population in certain ridings) is not in favour of it, then I don’t have to go out in the cold on Saturday. 

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