Too much is never enough

Four years ago I wrote about Tom Flanagan’s first book, Game Theory in Canadian Politics. This passage seems germane to the challenge facing Liberals, New Democrats and separatists over the next nine days:

One tenet of game theory is the notion of the “minimum winning coalition” – that it’s better if fewer actors share a prize than if more do, because the payoff for each player is bigger and because it’s easier to hold a small coalition intact. Say either three players can share a one-dollar prize, or two can. Well, you’d really rather be in a two-player coalition: you can win 50 cents instead of 33, and you don’t have to listen to the third guy whining all the time.

Flanagan showed that this is true in Canadian electoral politics, too. Governing majorities that greatly exceed half the seats in the Commons are rare. They hardly ever form outside a serious crisis like a war or depression. And, prone to squabbling, they tend to fall apart very rapidly indeed. “Of the four largest parliamentary majorities in Canadian history,” Flanagan writes, “two fell apart spectacularly within one or two subsequent elections.” While he cautions that “there is no iron law,” he found “some tendency for larger-than-necessary coalitions to disintegrate.”




Browse

Too much is never enough

  1. I suspect the difference being that the by breaking the coalition they stand to lose more than a share of power, if the alternative is CPC hegemony.

  2. I suspect that because they are flat busted broke, this – obviously – was the time to kick them. and because they are flat busted broke, it would be a great incentive for them to stick together until they’re back on their feet.

  3. Game theory. Figures.

  4. Then I suppose it’s a good thing the Lib/NDP+Bloc coalition has only a slim majority, or did I miss the point? When you consider that a third of the members in this coalition are not interested in advancing to cabinet, this would be one of the smallest governing coalitions in Canadian history.

  5. KOL raises an interesting point.

    What is being proposed here is not a governing majority, but a minority of Liberals and Dippers, with a promise from the Bloc to prop them up if Quebec gets what it wants.

    a) Yeah, that’ll work

    b) Yeah, the GG will just be thrilled with that proposal

    I know that the left and the media have been giddy with the thought of the opposition taking it to Harper. But I suspect that one of the reasons he chose to delay this little display of mountain gorilla prowess is because, well, what in the world are they thinking???

  6. The GG could also send Harper back to win the confidence of the House by compromising.

    I know that’s a shocking idea, that a minority government would actually work withand listen to the wishes of Members of Parliament as if they actually represented thier constituencies.

  7. “One tenet of game theory is the notion of the “minimum winning coalition” – that it’s better if fewer actors share a prize than if more do, because the payoff for each player is bigger and because it’s easier to hold a small coalition intact.”

    How often do mathematicians model human behaviour? Or human kindness? It’s a cold science.

    I want a government that resembles me, just like Christians demand a god that looks like them. I favour the greater good, not the goodness of the few.

    Some of my neighbours have lost sight of their duty to THEIR neighbours.

    Our prime political leader claims to be a Christian but acts like a Philistine. He is the product of a failed generation impoverished by an inhuman war caused by people of the sort our leader lionizes. He might have listened to his mother, but did not — our collective lament.

    “Lead us not into temptation” but “forgive us our sins” is an ancient but weak appeal.

    Who can forgive this man who holds his dominion over the welfare of his people?

    Oh, and he might be a sociopath.

  8. Game theory requires rational actors.

    Ahem.

  9. Game theory reveals self-interested actors.

  10. Dennis F:

    “I know that the left and the media have been giddy with the thought of the opposition taking it to Harper. But I suspect that one of the reasons he chose to delay this little display of mountain gorilla prowess is because, well, what in the world are they thinking???”

    Could they be thinking, ” Time to end this partisan nonsense for the good of Canadians”? Mr. Harper is a ‘constant gardener in a bed of cactus’ and he just got pricked.

  11. Personally, I think the idea of finance minister, Jack Layton is enough to cause everybody to have second thoughts.

  12. Could they be thinking, ” Time to end this partisan nonsense for the good of Canadians”? Mr. Harper is a ‘constant gardener in a bed of cactus’ and he just got pricked.

    So, you believe that Canadians won’t see the overthrow of a government mere weeks after an election as an act of partisanship?

    Whatever!

    As I said on the other thread, there’s only one party asking Canadians to voice their opinions publicly on this. And, guess what? It ain’t the ones plotting a coup.

  13. I would vote for Paul Wells as the leader of the ‘Conservative and Liberally Allied Socialist (Sometimes, or at least Yearly) Party (CLASSY for short).

    And our anthem?

    The Dead Flag Blues by Godspeed You Black Emperor

  14. Spouting John Baird’s nonsense I see Terry86. The Conservative staffers and bots must be working double Overtime trying to get the rhetoric and hyperbole ratcheted up to ridiculous levels.

  15. Well, a broad post-apocalyptic coalition is definitely a possibility these days.

    (Especially in Alberta. Here’s an under-reported story: Can Harper still count on all those western donations when oil is cratering?)

  16. Also, it is the height of insult to call this a “coup”. It is essentially an accusation of treason; that’s probably actionable.

    (By the by, I’m still interested in finding out what Quebec’s reaction to Harper calling the BQ a pack of traitors is going to be. Speaking of under-reported stories.)

  17. Dennis F:

    Mr. Harper (or his minions to be named and blamed later) have begged to be “overthrown”, or have you failed to notice? Your guy has been playing 3D Vulcan chess without realizing that politics is more like Backgammon. Harper has been “blitzed.”

  18. I don’t think the predictions of game theory have been validated outside of studies on men in the US … probably most of them college undergrads at that.

    Setting that point aside, the point made by commenter KOL above, “When you consider that a third of the members in this coalition are not interested in advancing to cabinet, this would be one of the smallest governing coalitions in Canadian history” is an interesting one.

    I’m actually wondering if, in the end, the Bloc will be satisfied to be outside the tent. They undoubtedly know they can’t be there now. I’m just wondering if there aren’t a few members amongst their very talented caucus who in the end may wonder if it isn’t a more interesting proposition to participate in making the decisions, than to merely facilitate but observe them being made.

    If that ever wound up being the case, the ground would have shifted yet again in Canadian politics.

  19. I’m a little bit weary of Flanagan being trotted out in Maclean’s via Paul and The Globe and Mail like some prophet or medium to Harper and his now broken crystal ball.

    Considering his pronouncement in the Globe that Conservatives can now abandon Quebec in any winning coalition in pursuit of the “fourth sister”, the ethnic vote, it’s way overdue for him to be put out to stud.

    However, here I’ll make a reference to something he said myself.

    I can’t quote it verbatim as I don’t own “Harper’s team” but he said something like, ‘There is the opportunity for the government to fufill a sweeping agenda in crises where the public feel frightened because they will give the government leeway for extraordinary measures’.

    I think it was a kind of off-the-cuff remark. It’s not a new idea but it’s interesting that it’s been considered by Canadian Conservatives. Does the current crisis qualify?

    It would be great if someone the quote exactly.

  20. A reader:

    So then, what motivates the Bloc?

    Some wise authority figure cautioned me in my youth to avoid confrontation and join the establishment if political change was my goal. Duceppe has done so… no? What has changed?

  21. reader: just because the Bloc isn’t in Cabinet doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be party to decisions. Their support is needed, and I doubt the Lib/NDP would be dumb enough to repeat Harper’s mistake of dictating to the Bloc.

  22. Okhropir: that is more commonly known these days as the Shock Doctrine, I guess. Maybe SD is more sinister, as it involves engineering crises.

  23. Yes, Andrew, I suppose that’s the closest thing to it.

    I’m not a big fan of Naomi Klein.

  24. Okhropir rumiani

    “It would be great if someone the quote exactly.”

    Wait for it, someone will. Your instincts are highly tuned, I think. We are being hoodwinked.

  25. Nor am I. I don’t think she is far off on this one, though.

  26. Here’s the thing about that crisis bit: it goes both ways. Progressives who were aching for some kind of Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition were waiting for some kind of crisis to stop the squabbling and bring them together.

    It reminds me of a different quotable character, Hans Gruber: “You asked for crises, Okhropir, I give you the C.P.C.”

  27. It seems awfully naive to think that the differences between the 3 parties will suddenly be forgotten. I think a lot of left wing optimists are only seeing the parties as generically left of centre, instead of having fairly divergent views and goals (even past the obvious issue with the seperatists).

  28. Games theory is too trite to capture both the subtleties, and gross realities of Political brinksmanship on this scale. The initial impetus to negotiate coalition in this case was fear of extinction. It was about the only measure that could preserve the Liberals and NDP intact. The Bloc plays along for the exact same reason Sober second thought showed the ‘players’ that the unthinkable wasn’t only thinkable, but was actually pretty good compared to a re-run of the last couple of years. I’m sure we’ll have another election next year, but we’ll have had a taste of co-operative parliamentary politics in the interim. Instead of looking backwards and theorising about past political behaviour, we’ll be trying something perhaps better, but definitely new (federally).

  29. This whole thing reminds me of the Harris years in Ontario.

    Every issue was proclaimed a big crisis by the government or made into one. Then some outrageous action was proposed to ‘fix’ it. A huge outcry followed and Conservative supporters (the sensible ones at least) were left wondering what Harris (Baird, Flaherty, et al) were thinking. In the end the ‘fix’ was usually altered to be more compatible, but at the same time it still seemed to go further than the average voter wanted it to go. The government got what it wanted. This happened over and over again…until the electorate was thoroughly sick of it.

    One difference with current situation is that Harris had a majority.

    Harper seems to have overplayed his hand here and will backtrack, BUT he will still get part of what he wanted in the first place.

  30. Yeah, Harper may have misplayed his hand, but surely even the suggestion that Jack Layton may have a voice in Cabinet during this time of global economic turmoil should be enough to scare most rational Canadians.

    I call on all Canadians to say no to Finance Minister Layton!

  31. Dennis F said:
    “But I suspect that one of the reasons he chose to delay this little display of mountain gorilla prowess is because, well, what in the world are they thinking???”

    Okhropir rumiani said:
    “There is the opportunity for the government to fufill a sweeping agenda in crises where the public feel frightened because they will give the government leeway for extraordinary measures’.”

    Methinks Harper is giving himself a week to frame a new War Measures Act. Something like:
    “We are in deep do-do and we need these emergency powers to stop petty partisan politics from getting in the way of governing the country” (tongue firmly in cheek).

    Or maybe not.

    If you have read Klein’s book, you’ll know that this type of thing is a neo-con specialty.

  32. In defence of game theory’s relevance:
    “game theory requires rational actors” – most of the political parties have been stunningly rational, they just aren’t playing the game you care about (the national interest), but rather the game of politics (winning elections). Minority parliaments tend to drive a wedge between those two, because the latter becomes so ever-present (that is why the US house of Reps is so utterly horrid).

    “the fear of extinction is so great that it negates Flanagan’s suggestion” – well not quite, but there is a tension there. Flanagan captures that by referring to crises – for the Bloc, eliminating the subsidy would be a crisis. If you look at all kinds of situations, this basic Olsonian logic holds. For instance, multipolarity in the international system is much more war-prone than unipolarity – and the stakes of war are surely higher than those of Canadian politics.

  33. Paul is prorogation at the end of next week, out of the question?

  34. Prorogation is really the only thing left for Harper now. This one week delay actually helps the Liberals especially to clear up their internal leadership issues.

    In fact, Paul, what exactly will the MPs do all next week? I’m not sure the optics are going to help Harper at all when there is absolutely nothing going on in the House, unless he has a big stimulus package ready to be dumped soon.

  35. “I’m a little bit weary of Flanagan being trotted out in Maclean’s via Paul and The Globe and Mail like some prophet or medium to Harper and his now broken crystal ball. ”

    Amen to that one…

  36. It is an assumption worth questioning that the crisis was manufactured by the Cons. Not saying it wasnt but lets look at this another way for a moment.

    What was all the discussion when Dion said he would stay on till May…..it was that he had this weird hope that the Government would be defeated and he would be PM. Everyone laughed and said another example of his crazy thinking….although acknowledged as technically possible.

    Well, surprise it is here. So the question becomes which came first….the party financing bill, which was hardly the reason to pull this stunt, especially when it gets withdrawn…..or that the party financing bill was a response to a known threat to defeat the government no matter what. The cons needed the story to be about something else and the Libs/NDP want this to be about the lack of Treasury draining….depending on the day because before it was about the Treasury not being filled enough. Anyway……

    Cons see Libs and Dips are going to do this anyway, provide their own narrtive to something that was goign to happen anyway……I am finding the speed of “the coalition” surprising. Always worth asking the questions, I could be totally wrong but I suspect this was going to happen anyway.

    Why do you think Dion was soooo angry he was going to be pushed aside? When its your plan you get angry.

    So here is the next question…..what do you think the liklihood is that the convention goes ahead as planned? That there isnt a threat to stop it in the name of “the crisis”?

    For all those claiming to be thinking about the Canadian people ask yourself the question, what is the difference between a stimulus package delivered January 1oth by a “da coalition” and one delivered January 28th by the cons? While there may be some changes in size or content the answer is is 18 days. Do you really think there is some huge difference, and if there is what is that difference, perhaps it shoudl be laid out ahead of time.

    If the differenc eisnt laid out then isnt the answer about the difference really one of who is in charge, as in there is some magical quality to someone else being in power.

    Churchill was able to dethorne Chamberlain becasue Chamberlain’s policy failed. He signed Mucnich, despite being warned, and then the tanks rolled into Poland. So where is the equivalent of the Muchich document, the decleration of Peace in our time and the tanks rolling into Poland.

    This is serious stuff, and while it may be constitutional nobody, and for the moment this includes our host, is asking the hard question of what is different, why we need to overturn our own convention of the most seats gets the fair chance to present a full agenda, which essentially includes a Throne Speech, accepted, and a budget that backs up the Throne Speech.

    Great Drama, wonderful inside baseball, but honestly there is more going on here and it isnt someone looking after my interest….mind you if the Tories are so bad at getting their story across then maybe they deserve whats about to happen.

  37. That’s absurd, stephen. If Harper was truly worried about the opposition defeating his government, perhaps he would have attempted to be seen to be reaching out to opposition parties to “make Parliament work”, as our MPs like to say. Perhaps he would have introduced an aconomic update that wasn’t full of measures the opposition could not support (civil service strike, pay equity provisions, etc.) and attempted to hide a deficit. Don’t you think that would make a better “narrative” than ‘Bully Boy Steve is using the economic update as a pretense to play his cheap partisan games and lie to Canadians about the true state of the government’s finances’, especially at a time when Canadians are very concerned about their economic well-being?

  38. Is it not possible Harper et al secretly welcome this coalition and possible success of their intentions? I’m hardly a fan of the man or his attitude, agenda or otherwise, but if I’d be positively delierious with joy if this unfolds as suggested. Go ahead and let a shakey coalition of left parties take a stab at governing. Regional separatists with absolutely no care or respect for the wellbeing of the majority of the population of the country + an urban leftist party fond of saying pretty much whatever it wants knowing full well they’ll never be in power so don’t actually have to be rational, let alone stand by their policies + a former political juggernaut in the midst of an implosion in the midst of a leadership race still led by the recently deposed leader with most party heavyweights unwilling to run for said leadership and the only two serious leadership candidates are a former blowhard from an American university and a former leader of a provincial urban leftist party that actually had power during the last big recession and managed to blow that opportunity all to hell. This coalition is going to govern during potentially the worst financial crisis in several generations all because the Cons are taking away their money (albeit it an admittedly juvenile provocation). And how can this not end up being a terrific turn of events for Harper? If I were him I’d already be preparing for my majority government 2009/2010.

    Now I must go vomit……all of it makes me sick!

  39. A theoretical question about Game Theory, which is so often mistaken for nihilism.

    If –

    When the One Great Scorer comes
    To write against your name
    And mark not if you won or lost
    But how you played the Game,

    as somebody said, would that not induce the actors to avoid winning or losing, knowing that the One Great Scorer is not so much concerned with winning as with playing the game? So the object at any particular point would not be to advance one’s interests but to keep breathing — thus explaining Wells’s Rule #1.

    (I’m still calling it Rule #1, btw, and not Generalisation #1, because it doesn’t say “Nothing will ever happen.” In any case the postponement til the 8th is a true-blue instance of Rule #1.)

  40. The crisis I was referring to was not the current political crisis but the economic one.

  41. KOL,

    Perhaps it is absurd….just saying it strinkes me as odd the speed with which this is moving. Lets take Harper out of the equation for a second as an proactive participant. This still leaves opent he possibility that opposition was waiting for AN opportunity. Which of course casts a different light their motivation and intent. Now, I shed no tears since Politics is an adult game.

    Perhaps I am the only one but this is all a little out of proportion to the trigger and not really in keeping proportion to what is going on….as I said, agenda accepted budget coming in 8 weeks. All legal etc but lets not fool ourselves into thinking it is anything other than a manouver….there is no policy response that is being put forward, especially after the policy offers were recently tested in the election and th conservative one had the most support.

    Point is, lets not fool ourselves as to what this is. The technicality of it is that if there is a government that can command the support of the House the this is the government. But why now and for what reason? It either is or isnt about political funding, and if it isnt show me where the critical, repeat critical and relevant, policy difference is.

    All parties ran on no deficit…including Dion and te Liberals, he is still leader isnt he. Layton said he would pay for with corproate tax increase. If bets on no deficit are now off then circumstances have changed for all. If circumstances are so radically different from the last moment that the people made a choice then failure to gain confidence would generally mean another election, to let the people ascent to the choices presented that the new circumstnaces allow.

    The argument for no election is based on an inability to gain confidence, but not changed circumstances…..but with an election so recent, a month ago, if the policy prescriptiuons of all have changed so radically isnt it appropriate to let Canadians see what those are…..either through letting the government propose and the opposition offer an alternative OR through letting all parties present in an election.

    This mechanical process that is assumed for the GG is not an accurate one. She is either to exercise some judgement or exercise none. If no judgement then why not an election in this case, if the PM asks then the GG should comply.

    So the argument is we are in a grey area, which implies GG judgement, since there are no rules. Then if that is the case then these other questions need to be asked, what is the likely stability of the government over time (which might imply a qustion of who the BQ is not a run of the mill party) what is the mood of the people, has the government really had a reasonable shot at this, is there anything other than political gamesmanship that justifies a change (equivalent to Churchill and Chamberlain) . Even then Chamberlain didnt recommend an election and he handed it over.

    If the GG has judgement, which I think most would say, then she has to ascent to the PM’s request, if she has judgement then these other requirements need to be taken into account and weighed. My issue is these questions are not being asked, there is an assumption that a coalition with less seats than the current government gets to rule automatically. It may happen but the GG shoudl not be let off the hook as saying she has no choice.

    Lets look at Ontario 1985. The opposotion could put together more seats and a proper majority, apparently a little more clearcut, but the LG stated that more than handshake was required, and he was able to see the threshold of majority status was passed. In this case there is only minority status supported by a party that has no interest in 80% of Canadians. How you judge that is another matter, I would say that taking them at their word is naive, simplistic and disingenuous.

    If there is no choice Parliament is disolved because of a PM request. If there is choice she, the GG, has to show evidence of considering these questions and should properly justify her decision with sound explaination. While she has no legal requirment this is all about legitimacy.

    The fact that the result isnt for certain will make all of the players deal with the uncertainty and trim their sail appropriately.

    Once again, there really isnt a proper airing of this debate, too much whos hot and who is not and play by play. Nobody is aksing these questions or laying out the issues…..

  42. A Harper-led government is likely no longer a viable option for the majority in the House of Commons. The Conservatives, to retain government, must then offer the House of Commons another option, an alternative to the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

    Harper and Flaherty should step aside and let Prentice (as PM) and Ablonczy (as Finance Minister), or some two other MP’s, seek the confidence of the House next week with a promise to take input from all the opposition parties on the stimulus package.

    I think this would be an attractive option.

    For the good of the Conservative Party and to save the government, Harper and Flaherty should step aside for Prentice and Ablonczy.

  43. Seems to me the Bloc has been doing real well without ever sitting at the cabinet. I’m quite sure Gilles Duceppe is spending a very satisfying weekend. I can just imagine Jean Chretien on the phone begging Duceppe to play nice. How entertaining!

  44. Flanagan’s point is interesting. I know the Libs are talking about a coalition with NDP and the BQ not part of the official coalition but the separatists are clearly vital to any coalition the Libs and dippers are cooking up at the moment. It’s pure sophistry to talk of coalition between Lib/NDP and not mention BQ.

    I can foresee some kind of existential crisis for Lib party and supporters once they get past the glee of bringing down the hated Cons and realize they have just hoped into bed with the separatists. Since when Is ensuring Lib consultants, pollsters and other riff raff have a job more important than not teaming up with the separatists? My, how the mighty have fallen.

  45. I’ve volunteered on Dion’s 2004 campaign (when Martin was leader), I’ve met Dion, I admire his courage, his intellect, his strong pro-Canadian stance. I don’t consider him a good leader, and I voted Tory in the last election, but I nonetheless admired him very, very much as unity minister.

    And yet, all of that respect for him would be thrown out the window if he entertains the idea of a Bloc-supported coalition. For Dion, the former minister of “national unity” to hobble together a coalition with the support of the Bloc, is unbelievably regrettable, and reeks of political opportunism more than anything else.

    The Libs don’t care about my support, because they already lost it a while back. However, how many current Liberal (or NDP or Bloc) supporters will continue to support their parties if this coalition occurs?

    And as an aside, Paul, I noticed you called them “separatists.” Good for you. Too many PCers insist on “sovereignist.” Let’s call them what they really are (heck, even the spell-checker rejects “sovereignist”). Unfortunately, if Dion is seeking support from the Bloc for a coalition, I’m sure Dion will call Duceppe whatever Duceppe wants to be called, whether sovereignist or some worse “softer,” more “polite” and more “PC” term.

  46. To JWL,

    What’s wrong with hopping in bed with separatists? I could show you a lot of like-minded female separatists who definitely look desease free. One could do worse. I have a few names in mind, but separatist or not one has to remain nice and generous.

  47. PS I read the front page of Le Devoir this morning at the supermarket. It was all doom-and-gloom for the Tories. I couldn’t help but laugh. Today, it’s gloomy headlines for the Tories. But how long before the doom-and-gloom headlines shift to the other parties and away from the Tories? Maybe that’s why Harper gave the opposition another week? So that the absurdity of the left’s coalition really sinks in.

  48. Yves,
    Nothing wrong with hopping in bed with separatists. But if you’re going to do that, you’ll probably have to call them “sovereignists” or some other PC term before they’ll let you into the bed :)

  49. To Mike 514,

    I went out of my way to use the term ‘separatist’ and not sovereignist for fear of being accused of being politically correct. Gosh, can’t win for losing.

  50. Mike 514,

    Do you really believe that separatists resent being labelled …separatist? I’ve just read some of your former posts to learn that, among other things, you do admire Stephane Dion. Well, it has been eloquently demonstrated that the feeling is not shared either inside or outside of Quebec. It is to this day laughable to see that his cherished Clarity Act is treated as gospel in the ROC and as some kind of a joke in La Belle Province where it really matters.

  51. >f you have read Klein’s book, you’ll know that this type of thing is a neo-con specialty.

    Shock Doctrine is not a “neo-con specialty”, nor is the concept new; history offers many examples of exploitation of crises. The pendulum can be swung in any direction, depending on who obtains power at the time of crisis.

  52. I’ve defended Dion unreservedly, but that was on the environment and unity and his courage and before this economic meltdown. Now, they’ve got a Harvard guy with no baggage, we need a Harvard guy with no baggage.
    In six months this week of Conservative propaganda ahead will be forgotten but the Libs and NDP must stay focused and not be distracted. But it has to be Iggy at the wheel or this bus will run off off the road by that armed Hummer with Doug Finley at the controls..

  53. Unless Flanagan predicted adscam, his crystal ball is useless.

  54. Yves,
    I live in Montreal, and from what I’ve seen, the “sovereignists” will bend over backwards to avoid being labeled separatists. It’s probably because the word separatist sounds so harsh and negative, and also probably because it spooks people. With “sovereignist,” it’s not so harsh, and the PQ can push the idea of some sort of semi-independence, rather than flat-out separation (which would also spook people). Massaging Quebecers’ fears about separation is much easier when you call it something other than separation.

    As for the clarity act, I recall that when it was introduced, public opinion in Qc was generally for the clarity act. I remember that it frustrated then-premier Bouchard so very much, it was likely one of the main reasons that pushed him to quit as leader of the PQ. So while the papers here don’t mention the clarity act much, I believe public opinion is very much (still) in favour of it.

  55. The Bloc doesn’t need to be part of a formal coalition, they’ve just got to vote for its business.

  56. Darrell – which means if the Libs and NDP want the Bloc`s support, they will have to support the Bloc`s “business”.

    How long do you think THAT will work for Canada?

  57. How is this for game theory, trying to predict the Canadian political short term future:

    the GG will be asked to approve the formation of a new government, cobbled together as NDP, Lib and ‘unofficially’ BQ.

    GG: who will be the leader of this new government?

    they: Ignatieff

    GG: is Ignatieff currently leader of any of the participating parties?

    they : no

    GG: then how will I be able to appoint him as PM, as representative of which party?

    they: the Liberal party.

    GG: but he is not their leader.

    they: the Liberal party will make him their leader as soon as you have given the go ahead for the installation of this new government.

    GG: but would it not be unconstitutional to appoint a new government without an elected leader

    they: but he will be elected in a hurry after you’ve given the approval.

    GG: I see, so Mr.Ignatieff being elected as party leader will be as result of appointing him PM first?

    they: yes.

    GG: and that would be as if acting within a constitutional responsible manner.

    they: Yes, (maybe).

    GG: what if I do not appoint him PM prior.

    they: then Mr.Ignatieff will not be elected as party leader now but perhaps will be elected later when he’s earned it by having run in a well fought race,

    GG: I need some more advice on this, I think.

  58. Every Game Theory assumes that players have the money to play with, however little money in whatever form it might be. Problem with applicability of Game Theory to current crisis is that the Liberals are broke not only financially but in every other way imaginable. Being broke they represent liability to any other player in the game. The only player who could possibly save them in a coalition agreement of some sort is the one who can afford to assume all of their liabilities and there is no such player in this game.

    Case in point: beginning of current crisis was statement by the government of its intention to eliminate government subsidies for political parties. Nothing actually happened on that issue no subsidies were cut but Liberals are three million dollars in debt and what otherwise would have been just a warning shot caused that the Liberal ship started to sink rapidly.

    Why did Conservative government decided to fire this warning shot?? Because they knew that Liberal ship would immediately start to sink.

    What is the best outcome for all players other than Liberals??

    Stand back and do nothing hoping that Liberal ship sinks and their crew joins other ships.

    What is the best solution for the Liberals?? Send all crews to work the pumps, stop the leaks and keep their ship afloat.

    What did they decided to do instead?? They called on other ships to try to mount an attack on Conservative Man of War.

    Smelling pending disaster and easy loot other two ships approach Liberal ship with an offer of assistance.

    If the Liberal ship sinks who stands to gain?? There are 75 crewmen on board of Liberal ship and some of them could jump Liberal ship and board NDP ship providing that they are not barred from entry on board.

    Others could also jump Liberal ship and try to board Conservative man of war providing that they are not barred from entry on board.

    Conservative Man of War has an immediate need of twelve new crew members to man their cannons so the first twelve swimmers that make it to Conservative Man of War are almost guaranteed their entry on board.

    NDP ship is much smaller but it has much more need for new crew providing they are willing to work the sails and the cannons instead of trying to depose the captain of NDP ship.

    In the end Captain and all the officers of Liberal ship are the only ones that will get stuck on sinking Liberal ship, so they will have to build a raft and try to sail on it to the best of their abilities looking for some safe harbours.

    That is the outcome when con artists are trying to play the game with empty pockets.

  59. It will be interesting to see if you’re still posting here after next Tuesday, Karol. You similes may start to wilt a bit next week.

  60. Jack Mitchell,
    World is watching, so as an alternative to a script that I have offered you we could see a replay of Orange Revolution. For all that money that we have recently spend on them it would not be such a bad idea to see couple of Leopard tanks parked in front of Parliament for couple of days.

  61. Francien,

    The PM doesn’t have to be the leader of his party. The GG can invite anyone she likes to form a government. They just have to be able to maintain the confidence of the House.

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