What was Stephen Harper up to in 2004?

Coalitions haven’t always seemed like a bad idea to the PM

by Aaron Wherry

In response to the charge yesterday during Question Period that the Harper government had shown contempt for democracy, John Baird offered the following.

Mr. Speaker, it is the leader of the Liberal Party who is showing contempt for Canadian voters. He does not accept the fundamental democratic principle that the person with the most votes wins elections. He wanted to establish a coalition government with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP and now the coalition is back again. That shows utter contempt for Canadians.

Mr. Baird’s invoking of fundamental democratic principles was particularly noteworthy in light of what Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe had said two hours earlier in their respective news conferences.

First, to Mr. Layton, who responded as follows to a question about whether he would disavow any possibility that he might take part in a coalition in the event the Conservative’s were returned with a minority after the next election.

If I held that attitude, then I wouldn’t have attended a meeting to which I was invited by Mr. Harper when he was the leader of the opposition and Mr. Martin had been recently elected. The House hadn’t even begun to sit and he said, “Come and have a meeting with me and Mr. Duceppe and let’s make sure the Governor General understands that Mr. Martin doesn’t necessarily get to be the Prime Minister just because he has the most seats. And I’d like you to join with me in making sure that the Governor General understands that there are other alternatives here.” I attended that meeting, I signed that letter as a matter of fact, in good faith, perhaps others weren’t signing it in good faith, I don’t know. But you can be sure that that letter will be available for all Canadians to see if we start running into hypocritical positions from certain corners or certain political leaders.

Mr. Layton refers here to events that followed the 2004 election. In September of that year (See: What was Stephen Harper thinking in 2004?), Mr. Harper, Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton held a joint news conference and announced, in part, that they had written a letter to the Governor General—presumably the same one Mr. Layton refers to here—asking her to “consult” with them and consider her “options” in the event that Mr. Martin sought to dissolve Parliament.

When Mr. Harper was asked at the time whether he was prepared to form a government, he dismissed the possibility as “extremely hypothetical.” Seven years earlier though (See: What was Stephen Harper thinking in 1997?), Mr. Harper predicted in a television interview that the Liberal government of the day would be in danger of losing power when the opposition parties in a minority parliament united to replace it.

Now to Mr. Duceppe’s comments about his recollection of events in 2004.

In August 2004, he called me, he called Jack Layton, saying that if Paul Martin was to lose confidence in the House, we’ll write to the then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson to tell her that instead of launching an election she should consult the opposition leaders and the one who finished second, it was him, was to be Prime Minister.

Mr. Duceppe previously claimed that Mr. Harper discussed a potential Speech from the Throne with him.

Since his government survived an attempt to defeat it in December 2008, the Prime Minister, while regularly complaining of cooperation between the three opposition parties, has asserted various principles (See: The guardian of our democracy and How late is too late?) that he claims to be fundamental to our democracy, including an insistence that “losers” don’t get to form government.

In 1997, as a private citizen, Mr. Harper predicted such a scenario. In 2004, as leader of the opposition, he dismissed it as hypothetical. Now, with Mr. Harper as prime minister, it is apparently undemocratic. But here Mr. Layton and Mr. Duceppe seem to have described a situation in which the “losers” of the 2004 election entertained the possibility of defeating the “winner” and allowing at least one of the “losers” to form government.

What was Stephen Harper up to in 2004?

  1. Hard to tell who the CPC has more contempt for, the people who don't vote for them or the people who do.

  2. Monsieur Duceppe in Le Devoir today is quoted : «C'est lui (Harper) qui a jeté les bases théoriques d'une telle coalition!»

    (It is him (Harper) who laid the theoretical basis for a coalition)

  3. Sure, but this is hardly a stunning revelation.

    I list this as #12 of the 3,642 ways in which pre-2006 Stephen Harper is antithetical to post-2006 Stephen Harper. I don't see why we even bothering comparing the two figures any more – they're clearly not the same person.

  4. Who cares what Harper was thinking 15 years ago. Pols say conflicting things week to week never mind what they were saying in another century compared to today.

    Wherry – you seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what pols said previously compared to now when pols clearly don't give a monkey's about consistency. Pols speak out of both sides of their mouth, and other orifices, don't let is vex you so.

  5. Rightly or wrongly, Ignatieff needs to reply to the question today.

    What is wrong with saying this: "The voters will decide the composition of the next parliament. It would be irresponsible -and anti-democratic – to unilaterally rule out any legitimate outcome. It's not for me – and it's not for Stephen Harper – to tell the Canadian people when their votes are worthy of respect and when they are not. The voters will always decide and we will always respect their decision. The Liberal Party is campaigning to win the next election."

  6. It is great that Baird has finally cleared up this constitutional mess. Clearly he is correct, it is obvious that the person with the most votes wins elections. The problem was us; most of us thought this was a parliamentary democracy, silly us.

    Good news Conservative friends, your future is now, our new leader is el Presidente Jason Kenney, who with over 41,000 votes easily beat out SH, skippy, Max (my fav) and a host of BQ contenders. This would have been cleared up sooner if Pres. Kenney spoke for himself instead of going through PM Harper. (I believe in this new system, PM must stand for Presidential Mouthpiece.) So there you have it, democratic reform writ large, brought to us with the party that consistently demonstrates the most creative, versatile and self-serving takes on exactly how our system works. (at any particular point in time)

    brought to you by the citizens of Kenneyland, sponsored by Molson Kenney Lager Beer.

  7. One additional thought.

    Don't you think it's interesting that the Conservatives are so keen to have Ignatieff make a unilateral promise to limit his options without even thinking to make the same promise themselves? It seems to me that they are saying implicitly that Ignatieff's word can be trusted whereas their own empty promises are not worth the breath it takes to make them.

  8. Heck, why not say "The Liberal party were not joining a coalition. If that was our intent, I would be prime minister right now."

  9. Thank goodness nobody realized this when Myron Thompson was winning 99% of the votes in Red Deer.

  10. The Conservatives don't feel obliged to make an equivalent claim because they know that it is much less likely that they would ever get the "opportunity" to form a coalition – they look at the possible electoral outcomes and recognize that the number of likely coalition scenarios that include them is rather limited.

    OTOH, the Liberals do have the NDP as somewhat natural partners, and on that basis it makes complete sense for the CPC to try to force the Liberals to give up that advantage.

  11. the fundamental democratic principle that the person with the most votes wins elections

    Yes John, and the person with the most votes in the House of Commons forms the government. It's not rocket science.

    I'm not saying it's going to hurt them in the election necessarily, but I find it really annoying (and insulting) that a big chunk of the Conservative campaign seems to be based on exploiting a combination of ignorance and fear. Memo to Tories: Canadians are neither stupid, nor fraidy cats, and we can smell hypocrisy.

  12. I wonder what Canadians care more about right now:

    Whether a vote for Iggy means a vote for a Liberal NDP Bloc government, and all that entails,

    or

    Whether a statement made in some other context years and years ago, is consistent with a statement made today.

    That's a really tough call.

    I'm leaning toward the latter. No doubt, when Canadians go to the voting booths they're principal concern isn't who they're REALLY voting for, but the consistencies regarding years old statements.

  13. I find it absurd that a minority government resorts to this "anti-democratic" rhetoric when opposed by a group of elected officials who got more votes than they did! This is how it works, folks. The objective of parliamentary democracy is not to pick a winner. It's to have the people's will reflected among the legislators of our country.

  14. Had a nightmare at 3:00 a.m. — John Baird with Kirstie Alley, doing the Paso Doble on Dancing with the Stars.

  15. No. I don't agree at all.

    a) Dion was the Liberal leader the last time a coalition was proposed.
    b) Ignatieff signed the agreement – "reluctantly" or not
    c) You're conceeding the Conservative fiction that coalition governments are illegitimate (unless they are headed by Conservatives.)

  16. REst assured that nobody cares which way you lean.

  17. It would be "democratic",

    if they came out and said they were forming a coalition, thereby giving the public a true choice between Harper and a coalition.

    Instead they're skulking about with half denials (while they're water carriers like Wherry here play the faux outrage card that Harper is even talking about it),

    all the while intending to do so, at the first chance.

    It's one thing in failing to deliver on this policy or that after an election. But springing on the public an entirely different government than they voted for, is about as undemocratic as you can get while still having votes.

    Indeed it's precisely because many conservative leaning Liberals wouldn't vote in a coalition (and many left leaning NDP) that they don't openly announce it.

    Let them think a vote for a Liberal is a vote for a Liberal (instead of Lib NDP Bloc) and do it afterwards.

    As unseemly as it gets. But the water carriers in the media just shrug (or worse openly cover for them).

  18. Coalition stunk 6 years ago, coalition stunk 2 years ago, coalition stinks now.

  19. I do. I need to understand their motivations and their worldview so that I can then make a somewhat informed decision of who to vote for. Changing ones mind bothers me not- politicians are human too, after all, and only a Sith deals in absolutes.

    It's the utter shamelessness of politicians today, and of this government in particular, that annoys me. Mr Harper is on record as supporting the concept of a coalition 6 years ago. Today, he believes it is inconceivable and yes, "undemocratic". There is no explanation, no justification, no clarification, no acknowledgement of previous positions. He just does a complete about-face and feels no compunction to explain himself.

    Changing ones mind is NOT a weakness in my book, but a strength. It shows thought and character. On the other hand, holding an opinion just for the sake of furthering your party's interests and country-be-damned, is, well, despicable.

  20. Who cares?
    The Conservative Party seems to care enough to make it the focal point of their attack ads.

  21. It's not that much less likely since this very thread is discussing a Conservative coalition scenario that occured only seven years ago.

  22. Hmmm…there's been nothing in the World Weekly News about Harper being abducted by aliens and replaced by a robot. I think the WWN has been slacking.

  23. Maybe if this wasn't a KEY point of the Conservative non-stop campaign it would be easy to not be vexed by this. However, the extent of Mr. Harper's hypocrisy on this is truly mind-boggling.

    To keep regurgitating this crap shows an incredible disrespect for the intelligence of the Canadian electorate.

  24. Those who choose to scrutinize this (like Ivison the other day) fairly conclude that the reason the Libs have done a 180 on corporate tax cuts is precisely because they needed to align with the NDP, for a coalition.

    But they dare not be open about this most crucial aspect of the election.

    Harper is right to talk about the coalition.

    And the non partisan public knows it.

  25. the number of likely coalition scenarios that include them is rather limited

    Only because the Liberals and the Tories steadfastly refuse to even CONSIDER working together. That's the most obvious formulation of a coalition. Hell, I still contend that the Harper government, on almost every file, is CONSIDERABLY less conservative than we'd have if we'd elected a Liberal minority in 2004 (partly because there is no pressure on their right whatsoever to stay "conservative"). I look down the list of contentious issues in Parliament and to my mind the majority of them are only contentious because the Liberals and Tories are trying to differentiate themselves from one another. Harper Tories and Ignatieff Liberals are ideologically the most natural pairing of any two parties in the House, and if politics wasn't such B.S. they could be doing all kinds of things the majority of Canadians would like (including, imho, putting the Bloc in it's place for once and for all).

    Sadly, being PM is more important to both of the party's leaders than doing what is right for the country (though I suppose it was ever thus). I once had hopes that a minority Parliament would have all sorts of benefits for the people of Canada but I was being terribly naive. All it's gotten us is the same kind of government we've had for decades, just with different faces.

    Maybe it's just because I'm more centrist than I may sometimes come off in the comments, but I think I'd LOVE some sort of "National Unity" government consisting of the Liberals and the Tories. I think it would be potentially RIDICULOUSLY popular among voters too. But, of course, NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

  26. Agree, but start with: "Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister gets the first crack at government. If he can't find enough support among Canadian representatives in the House for confidence, then the GG must ask if anyone else can in our democratic system, just as happened recently in Britain and Australia."

  27. Exactly right. The Liberals need to stop ignoring this "applied misinformation" and speak to voters like intelligent adults.

    Don't let the Conservatives set the narrative.

  28. I am guessing that my answer would be more popular, and it's 90% + likely there isn't going to be a coalition anyway.

    If I was to propose a truthful answer, it would be: "We have absolutely no plans to form a coalition unless harper wins a minority and then tries to introduce something ugly he didn't campaign on [as he did last time"]

    Why should Iggy be forced to tell the truth while Harper can lie with impunity?

  29. I wonder what Canadians care more about right now:

    Whether the government is corrupt and anti-democratic and facing a new criminal or other investigation into its conduct almost daily, and all that entails,

    or

    A statement made in some other context years and years ago, the context of which reverses the meaning implied by Conservative ads

    or

    Attacks on a candidate's family based on lies

    That's a really tough call.

    I'm leaning toward the two latter. No doubt, when Canadians go to the voting booths they're principal concern isn't who they're REALLY voting for, but how well a party can mislead us regarding years old statements.

  30. How do you tell who you're REALLY voting for if they haven't been consistent?
    If they change their opinion because they learned something new.. that's one thing. If they change it because the wind blows north-northwest.. that's a little tougher.

    This is the primary problem I have with Mr. Harper. It's not even that he lies consistently. He doesn't. He tells the truth just often enough that he becomes completely unpredictable. Some, like psiclone, consider that an asset in the political maneuvering game. Perhaps. But the game we're in now is the electoral game.. one in which people want to have an idea of what policies the people they elect are going to follow. Electing Stephen Harper, or people that follow his direction, is a giant crap-shoot. You never know what's going to turn up on the dice.

    I think our country deserves better than that.

  31. "Whether a vote for Iggy means a vote for a Liberal NDP Bloc government, and all that entails"

    I think I'd be careful with that particular meme if I were a Conservative. People who have been avoiding the polls due to our FTP system just might be encouraged to show up and vote against the Conservatives on that basis.

  32. seems so obvious, and so easy. why do they make it so difficult for themselves?

  33. True, but how likely is it that the Liberals will get back up to around 120-135 seats this election? That'd be a 43-58 seat increase from where they are now.

  34. So to recap:

    Bev Oda not being able to answer who put a "not" on one thousands of government documents: an outrage of our political lifetimes.

    The would be leader of our next government not answering a basic question about the fundamental composition of our government should he gain power: fine, just fine.

    We're not in Kansas anymore Toto.

  35. I am guessing that my answer would be more popular…

    It's not very popular with me.

    Why should Iggy be forced to tell the truth… ?

    {sigh}

  36. Regarding statements made years ago:
    I don't hold exactly the same opinions I held fifteen or twenty years ago. I think it's quite reasonable that my views change with time, being modified by experience and new information. I would hope therefore that if challenged I would be able to provide credible reasons why I had altered my views.

    Mr. Harper's recent (i.e., post- Dec . 2008 )statements about coalitions and Canadian democracy are in conflict with his earlier statements and actions, but (to the best of my knowledge) he has not addressed these contradictions.

    One is left with the impression that these comments on “winners” and “losers” are intended purely for partisan advantage and demonstrate as well as anything, his (oft-cited) contempt for our parliamentary democracy and indeed, the Canadian electorate.

  37. He needs to reply along the lines of:

    The Liberals are running to win the election and form a government. We will have a platform, and invite Canadians share our vision of Canada. If the will of the electorate results in a minority Parliament, then we will do our best to serve the people of Canada.
    Should the Liberals form a minority government, we will be held accountable by the other parties. The opposition's seats are no less important than our own; we all represent Canadians. If we propose legislation that the combined will of the other parties opposes, then it will be defeated and that is how democracy works. It is the will of the people.

    If the Conservatives form a minority government, then they will be held to the same standard.

    Any minority government that cannot find cooperation and consensus with the other parties, risks being outnumbered by the elected MP's of our Parliament ,and that is how it works in my Canada. A freely democratic Canada.

    So no, I will not rule out cooperation with the other parties, nor would I expect anyone else to rule it out should the Liberals form a minority government. All governments are morally and ethically bound to act in the best interest of Canada, not to bend words and rules to do what's best for their own party. It's that simple

  38. But Iggy – hell, all interested citizens – need to take a longer view. Letting the Conservatives ahistorical and illiterate version of Canadian democracy go unchallenged is lending it legitimacy. There is much more than a single election that is undermined by this.

    As I sit here typing, some buffoon on the radio is talking about a "Liberal coup" again.

    You don't slink away from ignorance and stupidity no matter how loud.

  39. Is your name Gaddafi by any chance? That nasty NATO coalition with Harper/Canada in it that is resisting the will of the people (i.e. my imperial will) …. ? Ever wonder why Harper did not use that c-word yesterday?

  40. While your concerns are legitimate, I think my answer is sitll better strategically and not that far off the mark in reality.

  41. I tend to agree (SHOCKING) with the limited notion that the coalition scare tactics won't hurt the Harper Tories and could even help them. However, unless one is quite confident of the Harper Tories getting a majority, or that the Liberals will never regain their former popularity, this over the top rhetoric could paint the future Kenney Tories into a corner. I'm not saying that Kenney (or someone else) is going to replace Harper if they get another minority (which I still think is overwhelimingly the most likley outcome of the 2011 election) only that it's not inconceivable that future Tories could find themselves in a position (again) of being able to take power away from the Liberals by forming a coalition, and half a decade of them on record mocking the very notion of a coalition as slimy and undemocratic isn't going to be helpful in that scenario.

    It seems to me that no one is thinking about the long game, or what is truly in the interests of Canadians, as opposed to politicians.

  42. OK then, how about "coalitions are legitimate, in the last decade both the conservatives and Liberals have thought about entering them. but I have no plans to form one in the upcoming election." Suits the present need AND gives weight to historical accuracy.

  43. I agree.. it is one thing to fail in delivering on a policy vs. springing an entirely different government.

    Except Harper is the one who sprang an entirely different government when he not only failed to deliver on policy, but did the exact opposite of what he promised he'd do.

    Even if a coalition had happened, it wouldn't be an entirely different government than the voters voted for because the bulk of policy positions would have stayed the exact same, and the changes would have been in policies that were promised but not enacted.

  44. No Chet…we are in a Parlimentary Democracy….where we elect an MP to represent us in Parliment….I have no problem with a coalition of elected MP's….why should I….Hypocracy however REALLY annoys me……

  45. Yeah. Cooperation between groups is really such a downer on your black vs white world view, eh?

  46. Very good point.

  47. I don't disagree with that at all. My point was simply on the limited notion of a Tory coalition opportunity not being "that" unlikely. I think the Tories having an opportunity to form a coalition after the next election is EXTREMELY unlikely, but I agree that their scare-mongering rhetoric is extremely damaging in the long term, including potentially to the Tories' own future prospects of forming future governments through coalitions.

  48. Giving a 200 word answer about how parliamentary democracy works when the best answer is "there won't be a liberal/ndp coalition" IS letting the CPC set the narrative.

  49. After what is happening in Britain, a coalition, if there is to be one, will not happen between Layton and Harper. So the only viable coalition is Harper-Duceppe, which will last a few weeks, and the LibDem/Bloc coalition, which can stumble on for months.

  50. Would Stephen Harper refuse to stay in power if he had a minority or would he seek to solidify his position, maybe by offering a ministry to some, as he did with Emerson, or with a formal alliance? The contempt finding would make it more difficult, but still theoretically possible. He remains prime minister, even if his party comes in second place after all.

    We need to be reassured that all leaders vying to become prime minister can 'put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest'.

  51. Why aren't you Iggy's communications officer?

  52. I'm a little tired of "strategy" – I'd like some honesty for a change.

    Look where the strategic genius of Stephen Harper has gotten us.

  53. What's ironic is that I really believe that if the Liberals and NDP were so darned keen to form a coalition, they could (potentially) CRUSH the Tories.

    Scenario: Announce to the country that if the Tories are going to sling the "Coalition with the Separatists" bogeyman all election long that you've decided you might as well cut off that argument at the knees, so you've decided to run jointly as a coalition which will take power if it gets the most seats without needing to rely on the Bloc, but will not take power if they have to rely on the Bloc. Then, just run whichever "coalition" candidate is most likely to beat the Tory in any given riding. Lots of Dippers in B.C. with no Liberal competition, lots of Liberals in Ontario with no NDP competition, etc… It's not guaranteed to work, but it could be pretty game changing.

    Never going to happen of course, but it would be fun to watch.

  54. Yes. A much better approach in my view.

    I think Iggy's current approach of avoiding the question is not wise.

  55. You can have a winning strategy without descending to Harper levels.

  56. No it's not, because a direct and thoughtful answer will end the questions and allow the campaign to carry on. And, if you answer it in the proper tone, you can begin to change the narrative.

  57. I have to agree with Mike T. I hate the Tory tactic of treating voters like scared ignorant children, and I think it's damaging to the country and to our democratic institutions, but there's a fair bit of evidence to suggest that treating voters like scared ignorant children WORKS.

  58. "Why should Iggy be forced to tell the truth while Harper can lie with impunity?"__Everything that is wrong with partisan politics in one line.

  59. the parties will not do it (this time)
    it is up to the voters to implement this strategy

  60. I've gotta say, I don't agree at all with the premise of your point, but that's one of the most cogent comments I've ever seen you write. It's not RIDICULOUSLY hyperbolic, it's not completely illogical, and there are no weird random carriage returns in the middle of any of the sentences for no apparent reason.

    It's amazing the rapid improvements being made to AI software these days.

  61. Also, when it comes down to the short days, this Conservative narrative could play a part in a last minute swing of NDP/Green/Undecideds to the Liberals.

  62. I think I first mentioned this some two months ago, and Danby has expressed it much better than I have above…

    By even discussing a coalition, we have to some extent bought into the snake oil the Conservatives are trying to sell. Regardless of the outcome of any election there does not need to be a coalition formal or otherwise. There isn't one now and we already have a minority government, why would we need one in the future?

    If the coming election leaves the results pretty much the same as we have now (Conservatives in a minority but with the most seats) they should have an opportunity to form a government and present a throne speech. If the rest of the MPs are smart, they will, at the first opportunity, defeat the throne speech.

    The Governor General will then have two choices. He can either immediately throw us in to another $300M election, or he can ask the leader of the opposition to attempt to form a government and present a throne speech.

    If, under this scenario, the Liberals form a government and present a throne speech, it will stand or fall on a vote in the House.

    People! Talk of a coalition is a canard. It plays upon the ignorance of the electorate to not understand how a parliamentary democracy works. We have had 5 years of minority government with no formal coalition in place. How would it be any different if some other party was in power?

    Mr. Harper and the Conservatives must be laughing at all of us, that we are so easily fooled by this idiocy.

  63. Wonderfully put, SanDiegoDave.

  64. I feel compelled to defend chet; he is one of the most consistent and principled contributors to this blog. His position is really not that hard to parse.
    A Conservative, Bloc, NDP coalition is not a coalition, rather it is just one of many forms of legitimate Conservative government.
    A Liberal-NDP coalition is completely illegitimate, especially if the Bloc supports – making them separatists by association.
    Those are his principles, they are both clear & consistent and consistently self-serving.

  65. But why should Iggy have to tell the truth when Harper is apparently allowed to lie?

  66. We are going to have to agree to disagree on the likelihood of your technique working in this situation.

  67. Yes, but what WORKS has brought us to this point.

    Maybe it's working for you, but it ain't working for me.

  68. Okay.

  69. It could, although I'd hope it doesn't. The Liberals don't really represent the NDP or Green views very well and those voters deserve representation in the House. Nanos noted that the undecideds were growing though, and he seemed to think that was some sort of sign of something changing.

  70. He should switch it around, though. Something like:

    "I have no plans to form a coalition. What bothers me is how Harper has lied not only about my intentions but about how parliament works,especially when he tried ot make a coalition work."

  71. and both in Britain and Australia, it was considered that the winning party should be part of any coalition, otherwise it would lack legitimacy.

  72. Iggy could never hire danby as his communications officer because, when danby is proposing his scenario with a Liberal minority government, the assumption is the Liberals would need to win the most seats to acheive that.

    Even Iggy knows that is impossible.

    The only way Iggy can become PM, if Harper doesn`t win a majority, is to convince Canadians that the country would be better off with him as leader of a coalition then Harper is as leader of a minority Conservative government.

    And that is impossible.

  73. There is also the future scenario of the Conservatives wanting to form a coalition with a right-leaning Liberal Party to keep out an NDP government.

  74. Harper could make Pat Martin the Minister of Ethics in a Conservative/NDP coalition.

    I would actually pay money to see that.

  75. Excellent points all!

  76. I'm thinking more that the Conservatives "Majority or Bust" strategy might backfire on them in the end. As you said, it may get a lot of disgruntled voters off the couch, and it may see a lot more Greens & Dippers & perhaps even Bloc voters "loan" their votes through strategic voting.

    If the Conservatives are insisting that another Con Minority will not have a legitimate mandate, then their Coalition fear-mongering may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  77. I'd be worried about the backlash in that case…NDP and Liberal loyalists are likely to greatly resent not having their party as a choice on the ballot.

    It would reduce the vote split greatly though. I think it would be worth a couple of ridings for the NDP in Saskatchewan and a couple (one for the Liberals, one for the NDP) in Manitoba though. Likely a bunch elsewhere too.

  78. I'm hoping for a Conservative majority for the simple fact that it will give the Liberals several years to rebuild a party that never really recovered from the sponsorship scandal. Three elections and five years of minority government have done nothing but stunt the (re)development of the Liberal Party. Since 2006 they've gone from one lackluster leader to the other with the only present alternative being Bob Rae the man Michael Ignatiff was parachuted in to block.

    If Canadians want some semblance of order brought back to the House, the cycle of minority governments and the constant threat of imminent elections needs to end, so that the Liberal Party may be given time to make the structural changes it needs and groom the serious leadership it desperately wants. Without a respectable Liberal Party to act as a credible counter balance to the Tories the future entails several more years of hyper-partisanship, and feeble policy.

  79. Yes, well put. But note, in the 2004 letter Harper does not use the word 'coalition' or in any way suggest that such an arrangement would be democratic.

    I remain deeply troubled by bergkamp's position,

  80. Hey, if people cared about honesty, accountability, and thoughtful policy, Harper and the CPC would be polling in single digits.

  81. I think the big problem with strategic voting is that so many don't understand the strategy. In the last election I talked to a lot of people who were voting Liberal to keep the Conservatives out. The problem is that in their ridings the Liberals run a distant third and they should have been voting NDP. I assume that works both ways…that people don't check the numbers in their own ridings and end up voting NDP, Liberal, or Bloc based on erroneous information.

  82. Going by your logic, Harper shouldn't mention getting a majority, because that's truly impossible.

    Just like Jack Layton shouldn't campaign on being Prime Minister back in '08.. oh wait…

  83. LOL

    Yeah but do you think the Liberals are going to win by outdoing the Cons in terms of duplicity and ignorance and fearmongering? In a race to the bottom, we all lose.

  84. A minority without the disruptive influence of the Conservatives in charge can be very productive though, and lead to the Liberals actually listening to the electorate and rebuilding themselves accordingly.

    I also take issue the inference that today's Liberal Party is the same party that existed under Chretien and Martin in the past. It looks very different to me.

  85. Let's not get bogged down in minor details like how Stephen Harper's ideals and morals shift to suit whatever the polls tell him today, or what happens to be in his own best interests to grab power quickly. Nevermind that Stephen Harper of 2008 called an unnecessary and reckless election which he at the time said was actually extremely important. This time it's reckless and unnecessary because… well, because.

    Why do you mean people keep expecting logic or consistency out of Stephen Harper? Can't a poor leader just do whatever a coin flip tells him without getting flak for it?

  86. I think that social media may change all that though… for instance, the site mentioned by Northern POV a couple of times and – one of my favourites from previous elections, the Election Prediction Project.

    The tools available to strategic voters are very powerful, it only takes the will to co-operate around a single "hub."

  87. Following my answer in no way stoops to Harper's level and I can't see why you would think it does.

    My plan merely fudges what I think is the true position – there won't be a coalition unless Harper suddenly springs something ugly on the other parties (ie, a coalition is possible, but not likely). It's hardly the worst thing to say "there will be no coalition" when really you mean "there is only a very small possibility of a coalition."

  88. I think it is possible for Harper to increase his seat count by a dozen and achieve a majority.

    I don`t think it is possible for Ignatieff to increase the Liberal seat count by 50 to gain the most seats.

    And even the folks who vote for Layton would not want to see him as PM.

  89. Although the Bloc are actually very well behaved political party, it is true that their underlying objective is the splitting of the country. Of course, this is the reason they were not a member of Dion's coalition. It would be interesting to know more about the structure of the Harper04* coalition. In any case, both Dion and Harper04* felt compelled to reach out to the Bloc based on what I believe is a fallacious assumption that while parties can form governments without a majority, coalitions cannot. This is simply ridiculous in a many-party parliamentary democracy.

    A major challenge to arriving at a functional solution with the reality of a regional, separatist party is that the GG is constrained by convention rather than clear rules. I suspect it will take years of successive GG carefully nudging us towards a workable system, a process that many will find painfully slow. Personally I am more interested in the long-term, while Harper09, Harper10 & Harper11* have been nasty they done remarkably little permanent damage to Canada. I wish His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston and his successors the best in their task.

    * Please note I have adopted a novel naming structure for highly principled individuals whose principles suffer from temporal instabilities. It was inspired by that used to denote dangerous radioactive isotopes.

  90. You're absolutely right, and if Iggy is just going to play the same games that Harper does, then, well, I'll just continue to support Harper.

    If on the other hand, Iggy shows me that he really is interested in being a different breed of politician, then I'll have cause to reconsider.

    Otherwise, I simply don't see why I should stop supporting one liar in order to support another.

  91. "an entirely different government than they voted for," — ??? If a coalition is possible then a majority of Canadians voted against a Conservative government — simple math, no???

  92. What are you talking about?

    In both cases, there was a minority. In both cases, it was to be put to the existing government first if they could gain the confidence of the House. In both cases, there was furious negotiations by the two leading parties for the coalition support of the third party. In Australia, the existing government won over the support of the third party and stayed in government. In England, the Labour Party could not win over the support of the Liberal-Democrats (and even if they did they'd need still more votes from the other parties) and so conceded to the Conservatives.

    In every single case, including these two (and Ontario in 1985 for that matter), all that matters is whether the party that is going to form government has the support of the House for its throne speech.

    So no matter what happens on E-day, the GG must first ask Harper if he has the confidence of the House. If Harper says no, then he turns to the party with the most seats.

  93. Only slightly off topic, but does this mean that the release of Afghan detainee documents ..
    awaited breathlessly, I know .. is a non-starter ? Whoodathunk !
    Oh, Jack , Jack .. how could you ?
    Guess I'll have to ask Petey when he hits the campaign trail … and if he allows a follow-up
    maybe I"ll ask about this …
    http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1234627.html

    Anybody seen that loose-lipped guy around lately ?

  94. "if they came out and said they were forming a coalition, thereby giving the public a true choice between Harper and a coalition."

    So are you calling the Conservative government in Britain undemocratic? Because Cameron actively and strongly campaigned against anykind of coalition with the Liberal-Democrats and even said it would be a disaster for Britain.

    Or is this a rule that only applies to Canada's government, er, sorry, I mean, The Stephen Harper Government (TM), post 2006?

  95. Are you kidding me? He is going to kiss — literally and figuratively — Layton and Duceppe's butt to stay in power. Even Iggy's Russian butt.

  96. Unfortunately, you, and I, and LKO, and Mike T, and those who care about the system are in a minority of those who vote. The best and worst thing about democracy is that the majority rules.

  97. "I also take issue the inference that today's Liberal Party is the same party that existed under Chretien and Martin"

    Yes it is different; it is in shambles and is void of solid leadership.

    Canada's five year experiment with minority government has resulted in abject failure. Weak Grit leadership–in a desperate attempt to stop the disintegration of their base–has adopted a strategy of polarization. Instead of the Grits time tested strategy of grabbing whatever issue was flapping in the breeze, making it 'theirs' and then running as the party of progressive policy, they've been reduced to rejecting everything the Tories stamp their name on and have as a result relinquished their position as the party of Canadians.

    Unless the Grits can rebuild their leadership and become the policy innovators they once were instead of the policy contrarians they are now, they will forever remain in the political doldrums.

  98. That's so funny, because here I thought all the stupid (that's the proper term, right?) people vote Conservative. Hmmm…

  99. Fact: "Loser's don't get to form coalitions" is a hypocritical statement, if uttered by someone who tried, as a loser, to form a coalition. End fact.

  100. Instead of playing these silly fantasy games about what might have happened seven years ago if there had been some kind of coalition formed to overthrow the Martin government and how that may have been similar or different to the actual agreement between the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Agreement of 2008, it might be more useful for Liberal supporters to attempt to understand why Canadians believe a coalition like the 2008 proposal would be so destabilizing to the economy that only inside-partisan-types from the opposition parties are even considering it.

  101. He's already considerably better than harper. Maybe not fantastic, but better than Harper.

  102. $105 billion in debt repaid between 1997 and 2008 wiped-out:

    http://taxpayer.com/federal/debt-clock-marks-mile

    Conservatives erasing all the debt paid by the Liberals (mostly). Hmmph…

    When the word "Progressive" was taken out of the party name, they really meant it. We are now back in '97.

  103. You seem to miss the whole point.
    By suggesting it applies to a Liberal minority, it raises the question of why this would not also apply in a Conservative minority government. Why is Stephen Harper against democracy?

  104. This doesn't sound like the same Lawrence Garvin who used to post at Garth's blog; but I'll bet it is. I think you have changed, man.

  105. FYI here is Jonathan Malloy discussing coalition governments from 2008. This is confusing.

    How would a coalition actually be formed here?
    It's hard to outline the steps because this is all uncharted waters. Certainly, the government would have to be formally defeated in the House of Commons first. Then Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have to tell the Governor General that he has lost the confidence of the House. Then it gets really fuzzy.

    How would you define a coalition government?
    A formal definition would be a government in which the different cabinet portfolios are divided up among members of the different parties. You may have a Liberal running the ministry of finance but a New Democrat running the Ministry of Health. That's what a coalition government really means.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/11/28/f-

  106. Because of the constant silly cheerleading of the Wherry followers, I don`t spend much time on this site anymore so I have no idea if Atchison is a Liberal or Conservative supporter or a non-partisan, however these last 2 posts of his may be the best I have seen from anyone in years.

    Those of us that want to see good government in Canada know that it is crucial that there be 2 strong centrist parties so that voters will use their democratic right to choose to alternate between these two parties. Right now there is only one–the Liberal Party has shown no signs of having any more insight or vision then they had 7 years ago.

    Atchison`s posts should be required reading every morning by every Liberal in every room until Liberals are ready to form government again.

  107. Well, I certainly can't argue with logic like that.. although if you actually presented some, I might.

    But the stunning level of arrogance you display toward the intentions of NDP voters is, well, stunning. Not to mention completely irrelevant. If your point was the parties shouldn't campaign on what's impossible, what those who vote for Layton actually believe is irrelevant.

    However, let's give you the benefit of the doubt. Why, I don't know, you certainly have done nothing to earn it, but I'm feeling generous today.

    So. Your logic as it currently stands:

    A party can not campaign on what is impossible UNLESS the voters for said party do not actually want to see it happen.

    There seems to be a significant amount of evidence that even among those who vote for the Liberal party, Ignatieff is not who they'd want to see as PM. Which means you're wrong yet again, even under the most generous terms we could give you.

    Let's face it, you simply don't have a clue, even in your own fantasy worlds.

    Makes the name kinda funny, though.

  108. More destabilizing would be a prime minister who cannot 'put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest'.

  109. "I don`t think it is possible for Ignatieff to increase the Liberal seat count by 50 to gain the most seats. "

    I didn't think it was possible for the Liberals to add 94 seats in 1993, either. But guess what? Funny things happen in elections. Just ask Bob Rae.

  110. I am the same Lawrence Garvin and I probably have changed (at least a little, I hope). But what way do you think I've changed? For the better, right?

  111. It is almost like Liberal supporters refuse to understand basic math.
    In 1972 the Liberals won 2 more seats then the PC`s—it`s a Liberal minority government.
    In 1979 the PC`s won 22 more sears then the Liberals —it`s a PC minority government
    In 2008 the Conservatives won 66 more seats then the Liberals—it`s a Conservative minority government.

    i don`t care how many contempts, or prima fascies or coalitions the opposition play around with, I know Canadians will not tolerate these disruptive and dysfunctional opposition tactics—-these tactics will now probably force many voters to choose a Conservative majority as the best option.

  112. That's it exactly. Well said, Sir.
    What I also suggest is that Mr Ignatieff throw it back to the Conservatives by stating what he would accept from the opposition if he led a minority government.
    This could very easily be recast as an ethical question and I think it would be smart to do so.

  113. Show me how the Canadians feel that they have been living in a destabilizing environment for the past 5 years—please don`t give me the "ted betts list " of Liberal talking points where he plays with words like corrupt and contempt and coalition.

    I think Canadians have shown remarkable unity recovering from the recession in the past 2 years.

  114. This scenario has been suggested in comments on previous posts, where I've argued it would be a legal sinkhole for both the NDP and the Liberals. The non-compete arrangements would have to be negotiated at the national level of each party. They would, almost certainly, trigger a flurry of legal challenges at the local riding level in either/both parties, challenging their party's right to deny local authority around candidate selection. And, even if the exercise survived such challenges, the foot soldiers at the local level in those ridings whose candidates were sidelined by non-compete agreements would be so demoralized, they'd boycott the entire election.

    IMO, it's a non-starter.

  115. Again, you seem to miss the point.
    Try rereading the statement. It isn't about winning a minority for the Liberals, but about raising the question of how minority governments work; about democracy.

  116. If you look at what the Liberal party today actually is and is doing, instead of what the CPC portrays it to be, you'll see that you are, in fact, completely wrong.

  117. You're just wrong as a baseline.

  118. I concur. Ignatieff has wisely refused to get drawn into unnecessary speculation about post-election negotiations, especially since all the other parties seem to be getting a free pass on the question..

  119. From my understanding of the events in the UK, there was more common ground between Labour and the Lib-Dems, yet the Tories had won a minority, so a coalition excluding the Tories was seen as a 'coalition of losers' and was ruled out by the Lib-Dems, who didnt want to be seen associated with such a coalition of losers.

    Im not saying a coalition would be unconstitutional, but that it would be ill-advised.

  120. Well thanks for your generosity—I can`t imagine what you would have said about me if you had not been so generous.

    Look, I don`t think it is wise for a second place party to have a fall-back position in an upcoming election that if the election results are similar to what they are now then they will just have some back-room discussions with the third and fourth place parties and attempt to replace the first place party.

  121. Agreed—anything is possible in an election, but I suspect Stephen Harper`s campaign abilities are superior to Kim Campbell`s.

  122. It's not working for me either, my point is simply that it's working for the Tories. I agree that stopping that nonsense is what's best for the COUNTRY, but when was the last time a politician gave up something that's been helping their party get elected because it's what's best for the country?

  123. In theory, that's an exciting prospect. In reality, voters won't do it.

  124. I'd be worried about the backlash in that case…NDP and Liberal loyalists are likely to greatly resent not having their party as a choice on the ballot.

    I don't think the backlash would be that great and besides, what are they going to do, vote Tory? I think anyone who was going to abandon the Liberals for the Tories has already done so, and I don't see any NDP voters swinging that far right. It could drive down the Liberal / NDP vote (less supporters at the polls) but even if such a coalition came in second, they'd still be in a better position in Parliament than they are today. A single caucus of 114 MPs is a bigger barrier to the Tories running roughshod over Parliament than two separate caucuses of 77 and 37. The Tories would need to court the Bloc on any legislation the Liberal-NDP caucus opposed, leaving the Tories with only two options, negotiate with the coalition, or negotiate with the separatists.

    Again, NEVER going to happen, but it would be interesting to see!

  125. And, of course, that's all the way down at #6 on the very long "reasons this won't happen" list. Still, hypotheticals are fun.

  126. Let's not get all CRAZY with our hypotheticals! (lol, j/k… good point).

  127. I was wondering myself if Atchison's post (which makes some good points) was an example of legitimate concern or a post by a "concern troll".

    I'm pretty sure which side of the divide your post falls on though.

  128. The problem is, almost no one is looking at what the current Liberal party actually is, and what they're doing. All they see is an effete, elitist, America-loving, Russian prince coming at them from their T.V. screens as though he's emerging from the red bowels of Hell to form a new government of communists and traitors.

  129. Sorry, you are making stuff up – and by that I do not mean you are deliberately trying to mislead us, simply that your "understanding" is not based on anything that was happening at the time other than Harper's own self-interested assessment and maybe you weren't following what was actually happening all that closely.

    The only person to have ever said that a coalition of Labour and Lib-Dems would be a coalition of losers was Harper. He is the only person to have ever introduced or pronounced this new idea.

    On May 6, 605 MPs were elected. No party had the confidence of the House. After 4 days of furious negotiations by Labour and by the Conservatives to woo the Lib-Dems, Brown realized he couldn't do it (in fact, at one moment they were close but the SNP wanted to extort too much) so as Prime Minister he recommended to the Queen that she choose Cameron as her PM.

    In other words, the Lib-Dems and Labour could not reach a deal. It wasn't about not wanting to be associated with or about a coalition of losers or being ill-advised.

  130. A formal definition would be a government in which the different cabinet portfolios are divided up among members of the different parties. You may have a Liberal running the ministry of finance but a New Democrat running the Ministry of Health. That's what a coalition government really means.

    The Tories don't define a coalition that way, they can't. One can't use that definition of "coalition" if one wants to continue pretending that the Bloc were a part of the proposed 2008 one.

  131. Of course not.

    Many of them don't vote at all.

  132. It's surprising the number of things that can be explained by the notion that Stephen Harper is a robot.

  133. Well put.

    That said, here would be the Conservatives' simple yet effective response to that statement:

    'Are the Liberals planning on forming a coalition? Michael Ignatieff says he "will not rule out co-operation with the other parties" in the future.

    Don't let Michael Ignatieff and his coalition partners try to steal Canada's democracy again. Vote Conservative.'

    Or something like that.

  134. We agree, Canadians have shown remarkable unity while recovering from the recession due to the economic action forced upon the Conservatives by the prospect of the de-stabilizing coalition.

    I don't disagree the Dion-lead coalition would have been a bad thing. The Conservatives won a not just a plurality of seats but a large plurality. Moreover from Bett's list of misactions, at that time very few were more than accusations of illegality or unsavory political maneuvering, i.e. there were lots of reason for concern, but not nearly enough evidence for a conviction (Ted will no doubt disagree which is fine). As a result, the transition to the new Harper government should have been straightforward but it was anything but.

    I do recall that the Dion-lead coalition did not occur simply because the Liberals lost an election, but rather because after winning an election the Conservatives immediately pulled an (un-campaigned for) change in the financing of future elections that was decidedly in their favour. All parties push procedural rules & conventions to varying degrees to gain a short term advantage especially leading up to an election. To some extent the public accepts this as political gamesmanship. Long term attacks on democracy are another issue and I think in Canada, wrangling over riding boundaries is fairly carefully done to avoid accusations of gerrymandering, although there are certainly regional disparities (which largely hurt the Conservatives) and rural-city disparities (that help them) To my knowledge, this is the first time any party has attempted to gain permanent political advantage in every riding in the country through such a policy maneuver. The Dion-lead coalition would have been a very bad thing. Fortunately, the threat of that coalition stopped something even worse from happening. Personally I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean who saw us through the mess Harper & Dion conspired to create.

  135. We need to be reassured that all leaders vying to become prime minister can 'put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest'.

    We're going to have to start by getting rid of every single incumbent in Parliament for that to even begin to work.

  136. This is all perfectly fair and reasonable. That said, playing to fear and ignorance actually tends to WORK in elections so while I agree that even discussing it is to take the Tory bait, NOT discussing it is to let the Tories frame the narrative – and their narrative is of an elitist Russian prince sent by the Americans to undermine our nation by installing a government of communists and traitors through a coup d-etat.

    I agree that the Tories are probably laughing at the electorate for falling for this, but they're laughing because the electorate ARE FALLING FOR THIS.

  137. Although the Bloc are actually very well behaved political party, it is true that their underlying objective is the splitting of the country.

    I'm not even certain that this is technically true. The PQ's underlying objective is to break up the country, however, I believe the Bloc's underlying objective is simply to get as much out of the country for Quebec as they can until that happens.

  138. Good First. You really should sign up with a full account.

  139. That's because they're currently just "The Opposition".

    Once the campaign gets underway they become "contenders" and the media gets more interested in policy statements so that they have some nice, easy comparison articles to write.

    And while the CPC has been busy attacking the Liberals, from what I can tell from their websites, the Liberals have actually been busy getting their policies ready.

  140. I'm enjoying agreeing with my opponents this week.

  141. Ba-dum tshhhh!

  142. That's a dream come true, since it strongly implies a post-government John Baird.

  143. It should not matter what you think of either Atchison or myself. If you are really concerned that we have good government in this country then you should be receptive of constructive criticism.

    If you just would like the Liberal Party back in power for even a short time, no matter what the methods of operation, then carry on.

  144. Oh chet, you were never in Kansas, ever.

  145. You can see how Harper reached his conclusion then. He simply saw what he wanted to see[ in other words drew an erroneous conclusion] and everything else flowed from that…as it often does with him.

  146. I don't think the backlash would be that great and besides, what are they going to do, vote Tory?

    Somewhere, Elizabeth May just got a tingly feeling all over and doesn't know why.

  147. That would indeed be refreshing and encouraging.

  148. Well, I certainly agree that the different environment of an election could change things, that's an excellent point.

    I'm still not convinced though that policy and earnestness would win in a fight over ignorance and fear.

  149. LOL,

    OK, that was a good one. Responding to my accusation that your last poll was concern trolling with a second post that is another stereotypical example of a concern troll post?

    BRILLIANT.

  150. "Any minority government that cannot find cooperation and consensus with the other parties, risks being outnumbered by the elected MP's of our Parliament ,and that is how it works in my Canada. A freely democratic Canada."
    '

    [Viewed that way you could make the case that maintaining the confidence of the house is a form of PR - at least in minority govts - a form of PR that is sorted out after the election. Now if there was only a reasonable check on the power of a majority, other then public opinion. But i guess that's democracy - as long as it's available to all parties it is legit.]

    You know that; and i know that. But it seems an awful lot of Canadians don't know that. If Harper wins a minority cue the howling if the other parties don't support his throne speech and an election doesn't ensue automatically, after a visit to the GG.

  151. But by recasting it as a question of democratic ethics, he avoids being painted into a "yes" or "no" corner. Even worse is to avoid addressing the question.

    The Conservatives are going to twist sound bites and out of context quotes into attack ads no matter Michael's response. Better to reframe the question, stand on principle and draw it into a bigger picture. What has he got to lose that wouldn't also be lost by answering "yes" or "no".

    Michael Ignatieff's job in an election is to sell himself, his party and ideas – sometimes in contrast with his opponents. There's no reason he couldn't sell this if he got the nuance right.

    Don't play the game by Stephen Harper's rules; you can't win if you let him make the rules.

  152. That was a thoughtful reply. I know it is not a good idea to imagine how things may have been different in the past if circumstances had only been slightly different, however, I suspect that Harper would have found it impossible not to take the stimulating economic action that almost every other nation did at that time. If he did not realize it was necessary himself, then there would have been an excellent opportunity for the opposition to get behind the wishes of the Canadian people and pressure the government to act, as well as the pressure they would have received from fellow G-20 countries.
    Since we are using hindsight today, don`t you think that there were several better options available to the opposition in Dec. 2008 then the extreme action they took ?

  153. If whomever I vote for wants to form a coalition, I just have one Canadianism in response:

    Giv'er

    The only time I have ever given money to a political party was to support the coalition. It was the first concrete move in my lifetime to de-centralize power away from the PMO and one specific party. It's a multi-party system that weighs thousands of competing and diverse interests. If parties work together in a positive fashion, that is progress and indicates a healthy democracy.

    I don't fear a coalition. I do fear intention misleading and fear-mongering coinciding with a greater concentration of arbitrary power operating in greater secrecy.

  154. 2008 would seem to be the example that proves your point, but I would suggest that example shouldn't be taken as too reflective, as Dion was dealing a host of other issues, not the least of which was his own (lack of) performance during the previous two years. His playing the real-politik game of no-show that Harper devised turned off, I believe, many potential Liberal voters. His campaign performance and mocking by the media (specifically Coyne… remember Richard Peregrino?) were also factors that I think served to undercut the policy and earnestness he was attempting to provide.

  155. As I said carry on. if your head in the sand approach is similar to that of the leaders of your party, then you will probably have many more years watching a Conservative government from the second or third or fourth place seats.

  156. Not with SH anyway. If only Lord had run and won the Tory leadership race things might have been considerably different.

  157. From the 2004 letter to the GG "to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority" No mention of a coalition yet we assume that was what is inferred? "What wicked webs we weave when we aim to decieve", lol!!! Yikes, politics, guess we will never know.

    The opposition parties in Canada's Parliament in 2004 ask the Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, to consider a coalition of the parties as an alternate government to Paul Martin's minority Liberal government. The proposal, authored by Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe, and Jack Layton, suggests an even tighter relationship between the Bloc and other opposition parties than that proposed in the 2008 coalition agreement.

    This document is a facsimile based on text found reposted by several bloggers, the CBC, and Maclean's magazine.
    The original, signed document could not be sourced.
    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/56785628/2004-Coaliti

  158. I'm a PC who is legitimately concerned about the fate of the Grits, a party which I tend not to agree with, but respect because of their contribution to political discourse. The Grits today pale in comparison to the Grits of the past sixty years. I see a party which is lacks leadership and is unfocused.
    The public doesn't react to ‘scandelettes' like Bev Oda, contempt of parliament, etc. This just feeds into the Tory line–“he didn't come back for you” —that the Grits will force an election over any issue to grab the reins of power.

  159. The Liberal's dynasty stemmed from their ability to run on a central policy issue that resonates with Canadians. This is where the lack of leadership is most affecting the party. You're right to say that “no one is looking at what the current Liberal party actually is”. Why should they? What reason have they given?
    The Grits need a leader who can take a central issue that resonates with Canadians and beat the hell out of it right to the polls. Look at <a href="http:// (http://www.liberal.ca/issues)” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(http://www.liberal.ca/issues)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.liberal.ca/issues). Nothing jumps out and says this is what Canada needs, this is what Canada is missing, and this is what Canadians want. It's just more of what we've already seen; a scattershot of a few ideas but nothing in particular.

  160. I'm gonna take Garvins side in this. It doesn't help at all for the libs to not take a position on this[ Harper's going to be relentless in any case] and it doesn't fly with me to not take the high road simply because the low road is working for the other guy – besides it reeks of cowardice – something the elctorate will not reward: " Hell they can't even stand up for themselves Mildred. I not gonna vote for someone like that"__IMO MT outlined the best strategy above – stand by your rights and promise to follow the spirit and the letter of the law, while pointing out the fact that Harper used to think that way.[ It'll help to way that 04 letter around lots everytime Harper mentions coaltion]__There's no need to be stupid about this. But in the end i'd rather lose and have done the right thing then to have cravenly ceeded to Harper's law.

  161. I'm with you. Assuming that we get another minority parliament, if we ended up with a Con-NDP, Lib-NDP, or even Con-Lib coalition, we'd end up with a government that is more representative of the population as a whole than one party trying to stickhandle solo as a government. As the last six years have shown, the adversarial approach hasn't been doing anybody any good. And, given that we keep electing minority governments, isn't safe to assume the public wants a bit more co-operation?

  162. Goodness. You appear to be concerned about the future of the Liberal party. Quite noble, really.

  163. "I'm a PC who is legitimately concerned"

    Well, I'm relieved you're not illegitimately concerned. I'd hate to think you weren't being sincere.
    Thanks for clearing that up in the first sentence.

  164. Aaron, this is the 50th time you've posted on the "but Harper did it in 2004" meme. I don't think it's going to gain any real traction.

    Yes, it's hypocritical, but keep in mind…. we are talking about politics.

  165. I'm not entirely sure it works the way you're thinking. The first election I ever voted in (Ontario 1995) gave me John Baird as an MPP. I was so turned off by his behaviour, I didn't bother to vote again until 2004. And the only reason I voted then was Harper had been all, "Maybe we'll get a majority if the polls are right" which disturbed me, and I disliked Paul Martin's "it's my right to be Prime Minister" stance (and my Lib candidate was pro-Iraq war defense minister David Pratt, which didn't make not voting Liberal a hard choice to come to), so voting NDP was my protest against two awful parties. Had the NDP not been a choice on the ballot due to an agreement between those Libs/NDP, I would've just voted Green, or any other independent candidate.

  166. Except an election isn't just about one party. It's a comparison of those on offer.

    So compare, if you would, the site you provided with http://www.conservative.ca/policy

    The site's most recent change is almost two years old. How on earth are policy ideas that are two years old any more what Canada needs or is missing? And if they are, what kind of job does that indicate the CPC has been doing?

  167. No question, but there's always the possibility of a Myron Thompson Moment, or a rogue party hack putting out something unforgiveable on his youtube account. Sometimes, it only takes one flub.

  168. Some of YOU SHOULD be in the Liberal's communications department. Whoever their director of communications, he/she is incompetent in my opinion. They rarely if ever hit the nail on the head on any issue-generally missing the point that would resound with Canadian voters.
    I.E. Yesterday on TV M.I. said something to the effect that-Harper has shown a lack of respect for Parliament and our Institutions-. Big Deal.
    What's Parliament? Who cares or knows? Would it not have had a better effect to say something like…..Parliament represents Canadian people. By having been in contempt of Parliament Mr. Harper has actually shown great contempt and a total lack of respect for the people of Canada..

  169. Suddenly, I want veal.

  170. "Aaron, this is the 50th time… I don't think it's going to gain any real traction."

    He's got you counting his posts. That's traction.

  171. But yet iggy is better than Harper. Why not everybody just votes for the better candidate?

  172. It's funny that the Tories site hasn't changed. I guess it reflects their platform of–expect more of the same.

    The Tories have done a lot in the last five years: income splitting for seniors, reduced the GST, re-equipped the military, reduced the credit criminals get for time spent in custody , $1,200 yearly child care allowance, steered Canada through the recession, de-centralizing federal government, tax credits for public transport, tax free savings account, tax credits for sports and music for children, tried to kill the long-gun registry etc.

    The Tories have done alright but its come at a slow pace. My dream is to see income splitting for all Canadians, something that the Tories have hinted at.

  173. LOL

    It just doesn't end!!!

    (Also, it's not exactly "my party". Frankly, I didn't even vote for them in the last two elections).

  174. well, i dont follow uk politics that closely, but it seems to me to be rather odd that Brown recommended that Cameron be PM. so forgive me for not taking your word for it. Besides, I remember quite clearly at the time that UK public opinion was quite opposed to a coalition composed uniquely of losing parties. it may have been Harper who coined 'coalition of losers' (Good on him, it's a beauty, and we'll be hearing that alot in the next few weeks), but the concept was well understood by uk voters and was not a popular one.

  175. I think it's pretty obvious that Bat Boy is keeping is hiding the true story from us.

    (Used to LOVE the WWN, now they're only online, and the material is a little lacking IMHO :)

  176. My dream is to see the Tories come out with an election platform before being mocked in the Leaders Debates for not having an election platform halfway through the election.

  177. What's Parliament? Who cares or knows?

    Oh, God. It's not THAT bad, is it?

  178. Here is a discussion on the UK possible turnout – this whole coalition thingy has me confused. It seems you can make a deal without actually forming a coalition.

    "An ally says of the "shopping list": "You can wield influence without being in government. You could even negotiate a programme for government through a Queen's speech with 40 to 50% of your ideas taken up, or negotiate on individual bills." Clegg is opposed to forming a coalition because aides and senior MPs argue it would be highly dangerous for the Liberal Democrats to become minority partners in a coalition government on the grounds that the majority party could manipulate the timing of the next election to suit it. The Lib Dems have long campaigned for fixed terms at Westminster to deprive the prime minister of the initiative on election timing."
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/feb/14/li

  179. ye gods, this is boring,

  180. A coalition of the Liberals/NDP/Bloc after an election which gave the Conservatives the most seats of the four parties would be "unstable, politically illegitimate, divisive and profoundly and durably divisive for Canada."

    At least according to Michael Ignatieff…those are his words not mine.

  181. You guys must have huge wallets.

    …or maybe from Quebec.

  182. Touché

  183. Contempt is in the eyes of the beholder. The fact is, Canada's laws are rarely exposed until the straw breaks the camels back. For example, most Canadians are disgusted by the current practice of the Criminal Compensation Board but they do not understand the politics behind the provincial agency's bizarre rationalization. As long as that is the case, nothing will ever change.

    This is not surprising because most Canadians know little or next to nothing about the law. If however, you have been the victim of an injury and you have been denied entitled compensation, you clearly understand the process. Thankfully, most Canadians have not been victimized in this manner.

    The ethical lapse (self love) that is behind this denial was clearly illustrated by the piercing intellect of Spinoza, who said the following:

    "After man has persuaded himself that all things which exist are made for him, he must in everything adjudge that to be of the greatest importance which is most useful to him, and he must esteem that to be of surpassing worth by which he is most beneficially affected. In this way he is compelled to form those notions by which he explains nature; such, for instance, as good, evil, confusion, heat, cold, beauty and deformity; and because he supposes himself to be free, notions like those of praise and blame, sin and merit, have arisen."

    These self-serving urges are responsible for replacing the rule of law with bizarre rationalizations that deny justice, and that is essentially the issue that is being ignored.

    This website, albeit messy in part, exposes valid points of law, and it is probably a good idea to review it for that reason:

    http://ahabit.com

    I hope that the Government of Canada does not continue to ignore the law because it is supposed to be driven by the values of ordinary Canadian Citizens, not the self-serving, bizarre rationalizations that have been recently exposed.

    But don't hold your breath. As long as lawyers pad their pockets, why should they protect the most vulnerable -their meal ticket.

  184. Sorry, I meant to say that Canada's Laws are rarely enforced.

  185. We will have to wait and see what policies they run on then.

  186. Pat, it's not the coalition that most Canadians find distasteful. It's giving the Bloc the balance of power in our federal government.

    Quebec already has provincial government representation which amounts to a strong voice at the federal table. To add another provincial party at the federal level amounts a perversion of Canadian democracy. Federal parties should be required, by law, to be governed by a mission statement that includes the entire federation. That means an expressed purpose to represent all provinces. Else, what's to stop a Bloc Nanuvut, Bloc P.E.I. or Bloc Alberta?

  187. I am one of those highfalutin hoity-toity young non-partisan middle-class urbanites who wouldn't mind giving someone else a try at running government. Harper hasn't bribed me with my own money yet and the cynic in me is willing to believe obtuse, narrow, arbitrary government shouldn't be encouraged and allowed to flourish.

  188. I think you should have stopped after " i dont follow uk politics that closely". In fact, from what followed, that statement is made perfectly obvious.

    Canadians were "quite opposed" to the particular coalition (Lib-NDP with support of Bloc) at the particular time (right after an election and a throne speech was passed) led by that particular leader (Dion). The British certainly seemed to favour the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition over a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. That probably had a lot to do with why the Lib Dems were reluctant to enter into a deal with Labour and why Brown recommended to the Queen that Cameron become PM.

  189. Woah, woah, woah.. your first few I"ll grant.

    But steered Canada through the recession? They were in the process of engineering it by removing bank regulations and blowing through surplus and cushions when the US melted down right in front of them. And even then it took the threat of losing power to the coalition to get them to smarten up. Decentralizing federal government? The budget of the PMO refutes you all on its own, to say nothing of Harper demanding agreements from would-be senators, and the general activity of "Harper's way or the Highway" that's been implemented on the CPC benches. Tax credits for public transport.. because that's something, as you put "jumps out and says "This is what Canada needs, what Canada is missing"

    Your own logic defeats you, all you have to do is look objectively at it.

  190. It's time for legislation to be introduced requiring federal parties to incorporate a mandate that has a view to governing the entire federation. Federal parties should be made to have a federal focus.

    Quebec already has a provincial government which voices Quebec concerns at the federal level. The Bloc gives Quebec double the provincial representation at the federal level. Not only is this completely unfair, but it is a perversion of Canadian democracy and completely undermines federalism.

    What's stopping a Bloc Nunavit, Bloc P.E.I. or Bloc Ontario? Our country would come apart at the seems. The Bloc Quebecois is a disgrace to the Canadian flag. I'll begin to respect Quebec when they grow up and vote in a party that seeks to represent all Canadians.

  191. You should have stopped after " i dont follow uk politics that closely".

    Canadians were "quite opposed" to the particular coalition (Lib-NDP with support of Bloc) at the particular time (right after an election) led by that particular leader (Dion). The Brits favoured the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition over a Labour-Lib Dem coalition but it was nothing like here. It was just less popular. That probably had a lot to do with why the Lib Dems were reluctant to enter into a deal with Labour and why Brown recommended to the Queen that Cameron become PM.

    That had nothing to do with what you claimed up above that the winningest party should be part of a coalition. No one was jumping up and down claiming that a Labour-Lib Dem coalition would be anti-democratic or would lack moral authority or somehow not legitimate the way Cons claimed about the Lib-NDPs. It was simply less popular. Nor did people see the Liberal-NDP coalition in Ontario in 1985 as being anti-democratic.

    It's fundamental to the very nature of Parliamentary democracy that the gov't have the confidence of the House. All that that means is that it is able to win over a majority of the MPs. Period.

  192. Feel free to leave then, your presence certainly isn't required.

  193. The coalition has sneaked a coup on a sleeping public

    Its project to drastically remodel British society is speeding ahead without any regard for what it told voters last year
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/

    It appears some of the progressives in the U.K. have used the same inflammatory language in describing a coalition.

  194. It's nice to talk ideology and philosophy, but let's look at the real situation here. The current potential for a coalition government involves giving the Bloc the balance of power. This HAS to be more distasteful to you than carrying on with the status quo.

    Let's deal with coalitions at a more opportune time. I, like most Canadians, am not opposed to coalitions. Heck, I, like most Canadians, am all for a positive shake-up to our current governmental situation. However, giving the Bloc the balance of power is unacceptable.

    P.S. Is there any reason why the opposition couldn't just let the current term run it's completion? By then the Conservatives may have hung themselves, the Liberals would have galvanized and swallowed the NDP and things would swing hard to the left. As it is, the Liberals seem intent on self-destructing.

  195. Nik Nanos did a recap on October 15, 2008 and suggested the bulk of the shift came on the last weekend with family and friends over Thanksgiving. The Nik Nanos clip is in 1:36 into the Groundhog Day clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JQq84nGBWU

    [youtube 8JQq84nGBWU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JQq84nGBWU youtube]

    The Liberals will have to improve their scripts. Trust and credibility won't work in 36 days with 10 million in mass advertising. (Dion will be vindicated)

  196. Please explain to me how the Conservatives are any more obtuse, narrow or arbitrary than any of the other options. Many Canadians find the grassroots conservative movement to be a breath of fresh air; replete with it's concern for the taxpayer and healthy splash of libertarianism.

    The Liberals and the NDP haven't had a good idea in decades. It's the same 70's pant suit "the Government will look after you and tell you how to live" baloney regurgitated over and over again.

  197. I think we may have identified a fundamental flaw in the Liberal Machine.
    Even those who spend countless, thankless, hours volunteering for the Liberals say they don`t vote Liberal.
    The only one who consistently contributes to the party and identifies himself as a voting Liberal is danby—well maybe tedbetts, if he remembers to put it on his list on voting day.

  198. Exactly,

    When the Leafs stacked up on veterans in 2003 and proceeded to get eliminated early I felt that they needed to break the team apart and start from scratch. Rebuild with new talent and good draft picks. They failed to do this, giving the Muskoka 5 no trade clauses. They have been a perpetual loser since.

    It's only this year that the idea of rebuilding with a youth movement and re-inventing their identity has really gained traction in Leaf management. However, 10 years have been wasted.

    The Liberals haven't gone back to the drafting board and began the rebuild that is necessary. They will continue to be perpetual losers until they do.

  199. Good read, thx. I enjoy the comments, which certainly reflect Cameron making so many changes the Brits head's are spinning.

    Interesting times with Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand all in minority/coalition governments.

  200. 9 out of 11 isn't bad. I'll address your three points individually.

    Sure there was a rough start to the recession but in the end we exited unscaved with the smallest defecit in the G8. I remember the opposition demanding more stimulus (which they didn't get) only later to complain that the Tories spent to much.

    The Tories have been fiscally decentralizing the fed by fattening transfer payments to the proviences however political power is as central as ever.

    I never said that the Tories need to run on a central policy that resonates to Canadians thats the Grit modus operandi. The Tories are a values party, that's what expands their base.

  201. "People! Talk of a coalition is a canard. It plays upon the ignorance of the electorate to not understand how a parliamentary democracy works. "

    Perhaps a few opposition MPs will catch the Ispos-flu and miss a vote tomorrow.

    I have full confidence in the public rewarding the coalition attempt in November 2008. This general election will set the record straight of our PM vs the coalition in the opposition. (Don't worry be happy)

    Tories shrug off opposition attacks, surge to 19 point lead http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/24/jo

    The following seat projection is based upon a blended sample of three weighted polls conducted by Ipsos, Nanos and Harris-Decima from March 10 to March 20. (152 seats- CPC) http://www.wlu.ca/lispop/seatprojections.html

  202. Actually.. we're volunteering for truth in governance.

    And it wouldn't be so much work if you guys didn't work so hard against it.

  203. And what's the value behind cutting the GST while taxing income trusts, raising personal taxes half a point, and raising employment taxes?

    What's the value behind promising to "hold the US to the agreements they made" and then giving them a billion dollars of our lumber industry's money?

    What's the value behind promsing no unelected senators, and then appointing Michael Fortier on pretty much day one?

    The value behind creating a playbook on disrupting parliamentary committees?

    Or on preventing the press from freely asking questions?

    What's the value behind "If Canada were going to have a deficit we'd already have done so"?

    Or the value behind Clement's Gazebos, In-and-out, Carson's dalliances, Cadman's bribe? Behind the "Harper Government"?

    Basically you're saying the CPC doesn't need policies because they have values. Okay then. Lay them out. Show me what values they have that they haven't already broken.

  204. Just in from the national post.

    Majority government in the pending federal election is there for the Conservatives to lose, if you believe a new poll taken after the budget this week.

    The Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia News has the Tories entering the campaign in majority territory at 43%, almost 20 points ahead of the Liberals, who have fallen back to 24% support. The Harper government recorded a healthy lead over the Liberals in almost every region — ahead by 16 points in Ontario (46 versus 30), seven points in Quebec (25 versus 18) and 28 points in British Columbia (50 versus 22). It also leads among young people, the middle-aged, seniors, men and women.

    Unless Michael Ignatieff is playing a long-strategic game and targeting the under-18s, it would seem fair to suggest his attempt to unseat Stephen Harper as Prime Minister has not started quite as well as he might have hoped.

    Suck on it Liberals

  205. Hmmm, yes, let me think about that for a moment…

    Perhaps I shouldn't have said "would ever get", but instead should have said "will, in today's context, get". Which is to say that I'm agreeing with LKO's number of seats analysis, above.

    Even if the election result is (eg) CPC=107, LPC=113, BQ=49 and NDP=37, with all the coalition moaning and groaning that we have heard from the CPC and its supporters over the last 2.5 years, you aren't really suggesting that Harper would immediately turn on a dime and start phoning the GG, making his case to get the first try to form a government with the willing assistance of the NDP are you? Wait a minute, that's exactly what you are saying, isn't it!! ;-)

  206. Yes

    Yes

    Hmmmmm

  207. I wrote a long answer, (and timed out). Short answer. Yes, I think Harper would have gone alone with some stimulus just due to international pressure. However, I agree with Coyne, the stimulus spending in Canada was borderline useless… it simply came too late to matter. (I have some conservative elements in my philosophy, better to leave money in the bank if you dont know how to spend it.)

    As to killing/delaying the change to party funding. I cannot think of any other carrot or stick other than the lose of power that would have deterred Harper at that point in time. It was truly a grab at long term power, perhaps the only chance for long-term stable majorities in our current political climate. It was wrong to do it unilaterally then and still would be following the next election. My guess is that the Conservatives will campaign on the issue and make it legitimate, win a minority and a process will be established that implements a compromise (for Conservatives watered-down, for Liberals tolerable). Hell, this is Canada.

  208. it's not surprising to see the Liberals in the media cynically selling the Liberal/Separatist/NDP coalition, because thats the only way they can"get back to power". The media can sell this narrative all they want, but if the Conservatives win the most votes in this coalition forced election and the inserted Liberal leader then try's to insert himself into the PMO after losing there will be hell to pay. Sure, AW and other hardcore Liberals want power at any cost, but that is not a view that is widely shared in the country. If the Liberals and their agents in the media were smart they would rule out seizing power after losing the election they are about to force, and mean it. The Liberals and Separatists in the media are not helping their cause by ineffectively selling the Liberal/Separatist coalition. It's just a constant reminder to the electorate that it doesn't matter who wins the Liberal forced election, the Liberals/Separatists will seize power anyhow. The media can sell the Liberal/Separatist coalition as legitimate, but it is truly contemptable and beyond arrogance to force an election and then ignore the results. Desperation and hatred makes people act irrationally, and the selling of the coalition of losers by the media is a profoundly irrational act.

  209. "What's stopping a Bloc Nunavit, Bloc P.E.I. or Bloc Ontario?"

    Only the lack of a proportional representation electoral system!

  210. bergkamp, you dutiful little Con shill!

    Must be thrilling to know that the Cons have made your ignorance a virtue.

  211. Actually, Harper said that if Canada was going to have a RECESSION we'd have had one by now, not a deficit.

    He said we'd NEVER need to go back in to deficit.

  212. so you fancy yourself a little uk politics buff? awesome, im sure chicks dig it.

    anyhow, according to your superior knowledge of uk politics, i am correct, the british did not like the idea of a coalition between the loser lib-dems and the loser labours.

  213. PS: ipsos reid says its 43 to 24, this coalition talk might be a little premature.

  214. I don't think Harper is at all significant.

    It appears that we have inadvertently stumbled upon the real problem in government. Unethical people within government are padding their pockets instead of looking after the people's business, and that is why we have so many desperate needs that are ignored.

    http://ahabit.com

    Is that not the straw that broke the camels back? Our politicians come and go. Our bureacracy screws us over again and again and again and again……..and it never ends.

  215. An educated man like Ignatieff should come out and say that, although he is not planning on a coalition, it is a viable option in our parliamentary democracy. Harper does a disservice to our system of government, not just with all his government's contempt, but with arguing a coalition is undemocratic.
    It is only convention that the party with the largest number of members should form a government. The golden rule, if you will, is that the government must maintain confidence of the House of Commons to govern. In 2008, it appeared that he was going to lose confidence and argued against the coalition and prorogued parliament so he could keep power and stave off the coalition taking power.
    If the conservatives are returned with another minority, convention has it that they should form a government. If that government fails to conduct itself properly in a minority situation, it is perfectly legitimate for the opposition to have an agreement on a coalition and attempt to govern… read the history books, its happened before.
    In the current situation in Britain, the Conservatives united with the Liberal Democrats (I think) before any government was formed which could also happen here, likely only if the top parties were extremely close in terms of the number of seats they each held. It appears that in Britain, in order to have a more stable and productive government, a coalition allows parties to form majorities through coalition agreements. One might think that, if it were to be done here again, that if opposition parties can form a majority coalition government, they should be able to do so, for all our sakes.
    I am also sick of people, including the PM, arguing against this because of the separatist BLOC. That party is democratically elected, and any agreement would have them signing on and pledging to govern or support accordingly… I doubt the Liberals or the NDP would let them go overboard, and the media and public opinion could also keep them in check.

  216. Dude,t his way I am off the grid and can't be traced!!!!

  217. "The person with the most votes wins elections"?? Not in 1979, when Trudeau got 3% more votes than Joe Clark, but Clark got more seats and was able to take power with the help of six Creditistes.

  218. exactly. This could include a minority rule as Harper has or a coalition if the numbers warrant it, but it is up to voters to decide by how much we support the parties.

  219. they are really voting for their local member of parliament to represent their interests in whatever way they judge to be most appropriate once they get to ottawa. That's how our system works.

  220. he can't know the answer until he sees the numbers can he? He can't rule it out, its a perfectly legitimate option given a minority parliament, as Harper talking to the NDP and Bloc demonstrates, as the ruling UK coalition demostrates using the exact same system as us. Why should he disavow it OR promise he will form a coalition. It really depends on the outcome of the election. That's all he should say, "it depends, we'll see what happens. I want to win a majority. But we will do what we can to form a government that represents the largest number of voters that we can after we see the results of the election. The Canadian voter is in charge here."

  221. depending on the numbers a Lib-NDP coalition could rule more stably even with a minority. The Bloc would agree with them more than they do the conversavtives even if they are not part of a coalition, so they will get more done. As long as the conservatives don't try to obstruct using their unelected senate majority, ahem.

  222. At least they've had some ideas in the past couple years. Judging by the CPC website, their thinking stopped the moment the polls closed in '08.

  223. I'm still trying to figure out how the coalition would give the Bloc the balance of power any more than it has now. After all, if the Bloc turned around and voted for the government on Friday, the government will stay in power. That seems like they hold the balance pretty solidly right there. So how is that in any way different from if a Liberal/NDP Coalition were supported in a similar fashion?

    Hell the only real difference is that the Lib/NDP group had the foresight to get a Confidence & Supply agreement from the Bloc.. in effect taking away the power that the Bloc had.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to the Bloc, far too many Canadians stop thinking and looking at evidence, and just go with their first knee-jerk reaction.

  224. Okay. So given that Harper is the only one saying there will be a coalition, and given we already know he's quite comfortable lying… I assume you're quite confident in the knowledge that there'll be no coalition?

  225. Yeah, but from Baird's point of view, that was them. This is now us.

  226. Or in Australia, where the Conservatives got 47% of the vote – beating Labour handily, but got shut out of office by a Coalition.
    Or in Germany in 1933, when the second place party did something really bad. (Godwin's law wins again….)

  227. I don't get it. It seems that the more scandals they have going, the higher the Conservatives get in the polls. What are people thinking?

  228. People aren't all brainwashed Liberals, and they can see through the contrived manufactured smears.

  229. Here wew go again; the rabid left pretending their parasites are squeaky clean while the opposition are dishonest. LOL. Honest politicians (of ANY stripe) rank right up there with pacifist Al Qaeda members.

  230. Lowering GST stimulated consumer spending. I bought a G6 before the NSDippers jacked it back up to 15%.

    Filling the Senate with Tories means that if they get a majority in the House it will make it that much easier to send a bill through to make it elected.

    Committees are a waste of time to begin with. They don't accomplish anything in majority governments and it seems that's equally true for minorities.

    In-and-out? The Tories refused to take the reimbursement and were forced to by Elections Canada.

    Values are: anti-long gun registry, elected senate (senates stacked to pass the motion), fiscal decentralization (more money to the provinces), serious jail-time for violent criminals, strong military (finally up to the funding levels of the 1980s), reducing taxes on individuals (income splitting stops punishing families for having a patriarch), letting Canadians chose how to spend their money (childcare benefit; for my son childcare is $900 a month I'm finishing my Master's my wife makes less than $20, 000 with subsidy and the benefit we pay $200 a month same as Quebec), etc.

  231. "The tradition in the Canadian system is the leader with the largest number of seats gets to meet Parliament and form a government." Nonsense: in 1985 Frank Miller met the legislature, was defeated, and made way for the Liberal-NDP Accord.

  232. you must have missed the "feel free" part huh….

  233. anti-long gun registry. They killed their own bill on that.

    Elected senate. They've made zero moves in the constitutional arena required to enforce that.

    Fiscal decentralization. HST gives the feds MORE control, not less.

    Serious jail-time for violent criminals. The minimum sentences they're imposing are less than the average sentence handed out by judges already. They are putting up minimum sentences for crimes that involve *no violence*, and that's not even getting into the problem that our prison system is little more than violence training school right now. Not to mention that all of that is ignoring that they killed their own crime bills.. twice. The only value I can see here is one of "power at the expense of everything else"

    Reducing taxes on individuals: Again, HST, employment taxes. They're not reducing taxes one iota.. they're simply hiding them better. The GST brought the manufacturers tax out of hiding. Now they're trying to shove it back in there because, hey, if people don't actually see the money go away on the tax form, they don't complain as much.

    You happen to be in the very, very narrow range of people for whom the child care benefit makes as much difference as a national daycare plan would. Congratulations.. I guess you get to put one over on everybody else, eh?

    As for your responses, seriously, was it really that 2% that was holding you back from buying it before? You looked at it and went.. "Damn.. if only the GST were 2% lower, I'd go for it." Really?

    You can't make the senate elected just by sending a bill through it. Read up on our constitution.

    And you apparently have no clue about either committees or what the hell in-and-out is about. Although even if you did, you're still comfortable with a government that would put out these kind of shady dealings? The ends justifies the means, eh?

  234. ROFLMAO

    OK, now you're just playing for laughs.

    Also, I would have thought the Liberals would take heart at the fact that there are people like me who haven't voted for them since Martin's first minority, yet might be persuaded to vote for them again. I've been persuaded to vote Tory in the past too, but at this point you couldn't get me to vote for the Harper Tories if you paid me.

  235. Mr. Wherry. Always interesting to read your feeble diatribes and see how many fomenting liberal hacks leap out of the woodwork to support them.

    While I happen to think that Stephen Harper has done an excellent job of leading the government, I'll acknowledge that there are some issues the opposition parties have raised which need attention. By continually making frivolous accusations instead of focusing on responsible debate of the important questions that face the country, however, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. They are also doing us a disservice.

    Supporters of all political parties would agree that parliamentary democracy at the federal level has become a painful process to observe. The lack of decorum and respect in the house and even more so in the committees is disgraceful.
    Conservative member John Baird's antic's, Liberal member's David McGuinty's stupid assertions and the negative spewing of a couple New Democrats all contribute to and exacerbate the situation. I'm pleased to see Peter Milliken step down. My hope is that whoever replaces him will take steps to re-establish and enforce the rules of debate and decorum in the house in an aggressive manner.

    All parties are clearly misusing the committee system. It is intended to provide an opportunity to discuss and explore issues away from the environment of a politically charged and debate centered house. Instead it has been turned into a unruly politically motivated farce. There are no innocents here. Taking away the their toys in the form of removing television cameras might improve the situation.

    There "are" issues that I, as a conservative supporter, would like the government to revisit and provide a clearer explanation of. I wonder, for example, whether F 35s are really the right choice to meet Canada's needs in terms of air patrol, defense, international commitments etc. I'm concerned about the cost but also about the viability of the aircraft in terms of it's ability to do all the things it will be required to do. I've heard non-partisan discussions and read articles in which experts suggest we'd be better off with 2 or 3 different aircraft, each of which would perform individual roles better than the F35. The suggestion is that it could be done for the government's projected costs or even less. In such a partisan political environment there doesn't seem to be an opportunity for the government to slow down enough to take a second look or to change course. In the campaign I'd encourage the governing party to openly discuss this issue.

    While there may be a benefit in having a parliamentary budgetary officer I find the manner in which it operates to be partisan in that is focused only on criticizing the governing party. Whether or not it is actually the case, it regularly appears to be alligning itself with the opposition and thus contributing to political turmoil rather than providing insight and clarity. I prefer the manner in which Auditor General Sheila Fraser operates. She provides insight and information and a good deal of criticism but does so in a non-partisan manner.

    These kinds of things are of much more interest to me than Wherry's ongoing propensity to focus on silly little political games.

  236. jayardi…it is your opinion that the PBO is partisan…to me he is not, just doing his job and has pointed out several errors in the Harper Government's math. This actually surprises me, as he was appointed by the Harper Government, and I really expected he would be just another Harper Government lap dog. If the Conservatives get the most seats in the upcoming election…I'm sure this guy will be gone. He does not regularly agree with Harper math…and this is a no..no. He actually seems like a straight shooter to me, and if the coalition forms the next government…hopefully the PBO would speak out when their math is also faulty.

  237. What grassroots conservative movement? You think Harper doen't trample any blade of grass that dares to speak up? Why aren't the Conservatives allowing democratic nomination meetings in their constituencies? Rob Anders for one should have been long gone.

  238. It's just a Harper lie.

  239. Let us say that this election leads to about the same results, namely Cons with the greatest number of deputies (but not a majority), followed by Libs, then Bloc and NDP. Let us further assume that Harper gets the first call to form a new government. And then let us assume that when the new government will ask for its very first vote of confidence, it will lose it. Those who are totally against the coalition, what is their solution? Another election?

  240. Isn't sending a bill through the Senate to make the Senate elected about as constitutionally useful, on its own, as sending a bill through the Senate barring leprechauns from owning unicorns?

  241. Aaron Wherry is hedgeing the bets,one never knows when the liberals could lie their way back in power and willing to reward a senate seat to a member of the liberal media for throwing around some liberal talking points when they are needed the most and at Mcleans no less.The facts are, in 2004 Mr Harper was trying to remove from power a liberal goverment that was in Que passing around brown envolpes full of cash and one can only speculate as to what they did to lead up to that and your going to tell Canadians that it some how compares with Oda's "not".Really liberals give me a bloody break,i know you think we're all stupid but that's a bit much even for liberals.I think and i'm sure many more right minded Canadians would have agreed and by the way,at the first opportunity Canadian voters did just that, they thru the bums out.To try to compare this situation to 2004 is just stupid.Haper may not be all that conservative over the past 5 years but when you put him up against the coalition of losers he looks pretty darn good and when the dust settles i think that right minded Canadians will to.

  242. If any party or group of parties are acting within the confines of the rules of parliament (and making a coalition government is within those rules), and the governor general agrees (as it is their job to adjudicate the meanings and intentions of parliamentary rules) then the action is consistent with what we've agreed to as "democratic". If you don't like those rules, put pressure on your representatives to change them.

    I didn't like that Harper twice prorogued parliament, but I didn't blame him for manipulating the rules, I blamed the governor general that allowed it. Prorogation may, at times, be necessary for the well-being of a state. Coalition governments may, at times, be necessary too. That's why they're in the rules. But we, tacitly, write the rules of parliament and we could, if we stated it explicitly, rewrite them if we find something not to our liking. Or, as some may say, don't hate the player, hate the game.

  243. Harper is a CONVICTED FELON in the court of Canadian Democracy.

    He is a hypocrite caught in his own lies!

    HARPER'S COALITION WITH SOCIALISTS AND SEPARATISTS — was it any less democratic in 2004 than it is now?

    Harper's a LIAR! Please send this country bumpkin (village idiot) back to his Firewall Province to hide his head in shame!

  244. Why is Mr. Harper so paranoid and Angry when it comes to promoting Fear in Canadians for a Coalition that does not exist?

    Canada does not deserve a Prime Minister who is going to get our vote based on Fear and Lies!

    I'd vote proudly for Jack, Gilles, Ignatieff or May—ABC!

    I refuse to vote for an undemocratic government that was found in contempt of our Parliamentary democracy.

    I don't want my Ottawa Hill turned into TAHRIR SQ.

  245. Pele – I don't necessarily disagree with anything you say. Perhaps you and I are listening to different news reports, but I don't hear the Bloc mentioned lately in any of them. The message is: coalition = undemocratic, and I think it shows a deep ignorance of our parliamentary system.

  246. Just curious, but what's contrived or manufactured about the government refusing to give the house the information it requires to do its job?

  247. Oh good grief, another concern troll, whining about how the government can't act better because they're in a minority government situation.

    Hint: They *have* to act better because they're in a minority government situation. If the governing party would stop doing the things they're getting accused of by the opposition, the accusations would stop.

    And I love the PBO criticism. "I like the idea of a Parliamentary Budget Officer, but why oh why is he criticizing my beloved CPC just because they're the ones who make the budgets of Parliament."

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