When two tribes go to war - Macleans.ca

When two tribes go to war


This morning’s post on the boss’s interview with Stephen Harper drew a lot of good discussion and some comment on other blogs. Enough of both that it’s time for an update.

Recall — or click the link above and see for yourself — that I was struck by Harper’s insistence on framing his next confrontation with the opposition parties, and not only his last, as a one-on-one fight between the Harper Conservatives and “the coalition.” That’s the game in the next election, I decided: Michael Ignatieff cannot run far enough away from the coalition experiment because (a) there is non-trivial evidence that he supported it (yards of scrum tape, his signature on a letter to the Governor General Herself) (b) doesn’t matter whether he supported it: the last Liberal leader swore there would be no coalition until he hatched a coalition. So who will believe his successor’s denials? Harper will therefore run as Order Against Chaos once again, only the Chaos will be the jumbo economy-sized chaos of a three-headed, separatist-tailed, Layton-in-the-catbird-seat coalition.

But it took The Jurist over at the NDP-friendly Accidental Deliberations blog to take my reasoning a step further: If Cons-vs.-Coalition is the game, then how do you play the game? Quoth The Jurist:

[W]ould the opposition parties prefer to be judged on Harper’s puffin-poop-grade caricature of a hypothetical coalition, or on the real results of a cooperative government?

Translation: If the guy who roamed the country warning of Liberal tax increases, recessions, deficits, industrial collapses and crime waves last time and won bigger than in 2006 is going to fly around next time with a made-up but credible list of NDP cabinet positions and Liberal-Bloc policies, is it not better for the opposition to go to the electorate with “the real results of a cooperative government” to fight those bogeyman tales with?

I think this is a really important question because mark my words, Harper will run against his depiction of a coalition government, whether the opposition parties want a coalition or not.

Then there is commenter SAB, writing way down in this morning’s comment thread. SAB writes:

The funny part about Harper’s comments is that it implies that if there was an election, that if the conservatives won a minority, that he would actually let the Liberals govern in a coalition.

And indeed it is so. If consistency means anything (a really big ‘if,’ ’tis true) then Harper cannot run on “coalition vs. Conservatives” before an election and protest against a coalition government after, if he doesn’t have the numbers. So, to borrow my terminology from this morning, the prime minister’s is a double-down strategy. He gets his majority or he destroys his career. I don’t believe he would have much problem with such a crossroads.

But now that Harper has tipped his hand, I think Michael Ignatieff’s life just got a bit more interesting. He was at the earliest meetings where the coalition was planned. He called for a coalition publicly, in speech and print. He backed his leader, who had backtracked 180 degrees on election commitments, to the hilt. You could look it up. Harper will deploy formidable resources at the next election to pin this opulent record on Ignatieff and make him the Coalition Leader, whatever Ignatieff wants to run as.

Knowing that, what does Ignatieff do now?

Hope you enjoyed your Christmas break, everyone, because we’re already back and the game’s already afoot.

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When two tribes go to war

  1. If he’s smart, he will get serious about disciplining his own party and take back the high ground from the Conservatives. The shenanigans of the coalition disposed of Dion within hours, largely due to the motley behavior of the Liberal caucus.

    There are serious issues to be resolved, not the least of which is the complete and utter failure of any of the world’s governments to demonstrate any kind of calm or consistency in the face of the economic situation. If you think a lot happened in 2008, it was just the beginning.

  2. You are the best political writer Canada has, Mr. Wells. And I mean that.

  3. TheProphet(TM)

    • No, I wouldn’t go that far. But Wells writes about politics in a way that entertains as well as informs. How he manages to do that without a bathtub filled with warm water and razor blades at the ready is a mystery.

      • It’s like he’s playing chess, while everyone else is playing checkers!

        What?…It’s been used?

        Never mind.

    • I think that was Kahlil Gibran. But Wells is ok too.

  4. Did I just see an Angus Reid ad on this site asking me if Dion, Harper or Layton would be the next PM? They know something Paul doesn’t? Is Kody rigging the pollsters to lead to massive consensus on the inevitable Harper majority next time out? What gives?

  5. Knowing that, what does Ignatieff do now?

    It looks to me like he’s morphing into Harper. By month’s end I doubt we’ll be able to tell which is which.

    • Eyebrows.

      • <iBy month’s end I doubt we’ll be able to tell which is which.

        C’mon, Robert. It’s as easy as pie. Harper will the one who’s still supported by rubes, boobs, nincomoops, Ezra Levant and Kay, mère et fils.

        • Ah , good more name calling,sma ole’ same ole’ from you. Boring.

  6. To better approach this question, I decided to re-read Ignatieff’s 2007 essay on Iraq and political judgement.

    I immediately regretted this decision.

    • Okay, that one was funny and apropos, dB. Thanks.

  7. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that the Conservatives won’t lose any confidence vote for the next six months at least. There is no winning coalition strategy for Ignatieff. His best strategy is to bide his time and hope that Harper becomes more unpopular as the economy worsens, and then pull the plug.

    If Harper wins a plurality of the votes, the only scenario where a coalition is feasible is if the Libs and NDP combined win a majority of the seats (the Bloc being political poison). Also, I think a Lib/NDP majority is only possible if their “spirit of co-operation” includes the Liberals pulling candidates from certain NDP-weighted ridings (and vice versa) to eliminate vote-splitting. However, I think this kind of cooperation is unlikely from what we have seen.

  8. he will take a strong pro-Israel stand and other positions that will tie the NDP up into knots

    • That’s not true… see how quick the NDP dropped their opposition to corporate tax cuts and the afghanistan war in return for 6 cabinet seats. Pragmatism some would say, other would say something else.

      • Layton has no opposition to corporate tax cuts per se; he only opposes tax cuts to “Exxon and the Big Banks” because these entities are bad for Canadians and their kitchen tables. Or something like that.

  9. If Harper runs against the coalition he will win a majority. The question however is whether this majority will contain seats from Quebec.

    • Don’t forget that Harper has at least one or two safe seats in Quebec, including Beauce where Maxime Bernier is pretty much bulletproof.

  10. it all goes to showing that, even if the Liberals are identified with the coalition, they are the leaders of the coalition. i think iggy will just keep pumping out policies without regards to any NDP or Bloc opinion (i’m sure they’ll find a couple things to make the Bloc squirm soon). eventually, those parties will either have to capitulate to Liberal positions or test the coalition. i think its obvious that Iggy won’t bend to any of their demands.

    in the end, it comes down to leadership and Iggy will is well positioned to show some in this scenario.

  11. There is not a doubt in my mind that you are correct about Harper’s messaging in the next election campaign, whenever it may fall.

    And why wouldn’t he? He has the incumbent’s advantage that the Liberals always had…the ability to fearmonger on an issue that he’s on the right side of in the eyes of a majority of Canadians. If there is anything the last few elections in this country have shown, it’s unfortunately that fearmongering works.

    I don’t know how Ignatieff can avoid this, other than by making a very public split with the idea of the coalition right after the budget passes, if not sooner. However, since that coalition is the only leverage the opposition parties have right now, I don’t see that happening.

  12. Surely a little finessing of the facts is good for the gander, as well? Could not Ignatieff say something like:

    “Harper admitted to Canadians he wasn’t capable of governing in summer 2008 when he made parliament dysfunctional. He proved it when he ran away 13 days into the next parliament. We never expected he would introduce the most anti-woman legislation in the history of Canada, we never expected he would do absolutely nothing in the face of the biggest economic crisis of the century. So we came together and said: no more. It stops now. And we forced him down. Is it necessary to govern as a coaltion now? No. Do I regret a thing about backing it when it was necessary? Absolutely not.”

    • the most anti-woman legislation in the history of Canada

      Here we go again. Could you possibly be referring to Harper’s attempt to reform pay equity legislation so that public servants can no longer file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission?

      Hyperbole is a normal and accepted part of political discourse, but this kind of thing really crosses the line.

      • but this kind of thing really crosses the line.

        What? Did some Liberal have a spontaneous orgasm or something?

        • I hope not. Those can be dangerous when you’re straddling the middle.

          • Why is it necessary to take sides? Wouldn’t the current split in the country be better represented by a centrist (middle-straddling) government?

      • That’s why I said some finessing of the facts might be in order, and noted that the other side had already engaged in it. You may also have noticed that the other parties might not actually be proposing a coalition at the time Harper says they are.

        • Harper will only be banging the coalition drum because the coalition is a credible outcome for the next election. Otherwise, that particular drum would be ineffective.

          Meanwhile, I’m optimistic that Iggy is a good enough communicator that he will be able to rely on truth-based rhetoric, as opposed to the BS-based rhetoric of his predecessors (Harper=Bush, soldiers in our streets, hidden agenda, women will lose their rights, etc.)

          • Why use truth and balance when “THE LIBERALS SUPPORT CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND THE TALIBAN!!!” has seemly worked so well?

          • Apparently, Mike, you belong to the “liar liar pants on fire” school of moral equivalency.

  13. Ah, now this is why Wells is King. Quel post.

    The timing could be tricky for the Coalition. We’re not going to feel the real pain of the recession for some months, and the Count must strike soon if he strikes at all, constitutionally and in terms of public perception; but if he strikes soon then he will be the target, as PM, of recession frustration. It’s a big game of musical chairs in which nobody wants to be PM in June.

    The logic of Wells and The Jurist is very strong. Iggy needs the initiative: look what losing it did to his predecessor. Crashing and burning as Coalition PM would not necessarily be the end of his career, as he could blame failure on bald, extenuating circumstances with moustaches.

    No one can deny that Harper has guts. I guess we’ll soon see if Iggy is in his league. And it all stems from an interview in Maclean’s! Kudos to the magazine for doing what a political magazine should do: taking centre-stage.

    • Further to the above thought, if the Count wishes to mitigate the problems of being PM in June, recession-wise, and if he’s going to go for it now, it seems to me he has to dial up the “Harper has caused this recession” rhetoric immediately. (Unfair, untrue, whatever.) He has to hit that so hard that the public somehow comes to think of it as the “Harper recession,” long after the Count is PM. I’m not sure rhetoric would be enough in that regard: he would also have to set at least two PR traps for the Tories, so as to keep the “You had an option, sir” tack available; the “Flaherty did nothing” line has a very short shelf-life, since the public would quickly forget who Flaherty was.

      • That’s an interesting strategy, Jack. If Ignatieff wants to be PM he should dial up the lying. He should lie to Canadians about the cause of the recession (unfair, untrue, whatever… it’s politics after all). He should lie to Canadians so skilfully that they come to believe his lies are the truth. He should dupe those simple-minded voters into buying the concept of a “Harper recession”.

        But, as you point out, bald-faced lies and dishonest rhetoric will not be enough. He needs to set up at least two whoppers – two magnificent lies that will trap Harper and squash him like a bug. Forget trumped-up plagiarism charges or “you had an option” tacks – that’s been done. Iggy needs to find a big lie and stick to it. After all:

        Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

        I’ll leave it to you to find the source of that quote. The scary part is that the Liberal party is likely to adopt your strategy. Meanwhile, I’ll continue in my naive belief that Iggy is smart enough to persuade Canadians to vote for him without resorting to deception.

        • Quoting Mein Kampf is a new low, even for you.

          Anyway, the notion that Harper has behaved any differently than what I was suggesting for the Liberals is laughable.

          • I wasn’t quoting Mein Kampf, I was quoting a 1941 American psychological evaluation of Hitler that has become required reading in many 2nd year poli-sci courses because of its relevance (“the big lie”).

            I wasn’t trying to invoke Godwin’s law or attack you personally, I was just making the point that it’s time to stop rationalizing deception in Canadian politics because “the other guy does it”. Also, I don’t think Harper is any more or less mendacious than other Canadian PMs. I just wish that someone in our politics would have the guts to reject lying based on principle, even if it is not politically advantageous.

          • Ah, well, sorry. And I’m perfectly in agreement with you about how much lying there is in our politics and how disgusting it is. I would vote — nay, volunteer tirelessly — for any party that could win without it, almost regardless of ideology. But as things stand, any party that commits itself to sincere truthtelling is simply going to get crushed. We’d need a 180-degree swing in public tolerance for deception of the non-factual kind, and God knows when that will ever happen. I don’t know if it’s possible in a democracy, where the itch to pander and frighten is so well rewarded.

  14. General question: how long would Ignatieff want his Coalition to last? Surely not the full 18 months, assuming that were even possible. He’d want to get his own minority. In terms of whether he could improve Liberal fortunes, I guess the big wildcard is whether Harper himself would stay on (or be kept on) in case of a Coalition government. I presume he would be, but where then would Iggy hope to gain seats? Is there any instance in Canadian history of a government gaining seats during a recession election, i.e. in which the economy had significantly deteriorated since the last election? I can’t find one on wikipedia.

    • To answer my own question about a goverment adding seats in a recession:

      1896 (recession of 1893): Tory majority > Liberal majority
      1921 (recession of 1918-21): Tory majority > Liberal majority
      1930 (Great Depression): Liberal majority > Tory majority
      1935 (Great Depression): Tory majority > Liberal majority
      1974 (1973 oil shock): Liberal minority > Liberal majority
      1980 (1980 recession): Tory minority > Liberal majority
      1993 (early 90’s recession): Tory majority > Liberal majority
      2004 (9/11-dot-com recession of ’01): Liberal majority > Liberal minority
      (2008 election doesn’t count as the recession hadn’t really started yet in October)

      So it looks like 1974 was an exception to the rule — the “Zap! You’re frozen!” election, IIRC, in which Stanfield’s solution of price controls was rather zany (though, of course, later adopted by Trudeau).

      • hmm Jack… don’t these stats indicate that Conservative governments cause recessions.

      • “1993 (early 90’s recession): Tory majority > Liberal majority”

        Of course, the splitting of the right with the rise of the Reform Party, an option for disaffected western Canadian voters, wasn’t relevant?


        1980. Joe Clark. Does that count? I think not.

        • Of course, I wasn’t saying anything of the kind. You can read? Bull.

  15. The coalition is the way to go for the Liberals and Progressives in this country. Conservative fear tactics either have to be challenged forcefully (and its getting pretty late in the game to do this) or, in effect, the Liberals will be signaling that the Conservative myths about the coalition are legitimate.

    I’d actually like to hear a coherent arguement AGAINST the coalition from an LPC point of view. I only hear vague statements that the coalition would “destroy the Liberal brand” for years to come (and usually this ragument is made by CONSERVATIVE pundits like Andrew Coyne) without much reasoning behind WHY it would do so. Surely that depends on how effective the coalition would be and what policies it chooses to pursue (which the LPC would have the largest say in determining since a Liberal would be PM and Liberals would form 2/3 of the Cabinet).

    An excellent article by Aaron Wherry that appeared over the holidays seemed to suggest that some “senior Liberals” were worried about a “reverse takeover” by the NDP. Well how would that happen exactly? When the Canadian Alliance and PCs merged, was it the PCs (the smaller, weaker party) which ended up in the driver’s seat? No. So why would it be different under this scenario? Even at a relatively weak moment in its history, the Liberals represent a much larger constituency than the NDP.

    Anyway, all of this is academic since there is no guarantee that just because the Liberals and NDP formed a coalition they would then merge. Again, that would surely depend on how successful the coalition was, and whether such a merger seemed to be in the interests of both parties and would be politically viable.

    The other arguement seems to be that if the coalition was successful it would be the NDP that would get most of the credit, and if it was unsuccessful it would be the Liberals who would get most of the blame. Well WHY exactly would it play out that way? It actually seems to me that the risks are greater for the NDP. The coalition will have to govern in a pragamtic, centrist way. Surely this is going to piss off the NDP’s hardcore ideological partisans (the one who always argue that Liberals and Conservatives are basically the same) more than the Liberal base. For example what have we already seen from the coalition agreement: the NDP had to abandon their plan to scrap their $50 billion corporate income tax cut (and opposing corporations is basically the whole point of the NDP) while the Liberals only had to drop the Green Shift which was politically dead anyway and something of a departure from traditional LPC policy anyway.

    • Jean, the theory, as I understand it, is that there are large swaths of the Liberal base who dislike (/distrust/dismiss) the NDP even more than they do the Conservatives. If the two parties govern as a Coalition but don’t run as one, the Liberals risk alienating that anti-NDP support of theirs while still splitting the anti-Harper / progressive vote at the polls. Worst of both worlds, really.

      Seems to me that, if the Coalition comes to pass, the Liberals would need to push right, so as to reassure that constituency while hoping the NDP likes power enough to tolerate it. Iggy’s the man for that, at least.

  16. I don’t know maybe my perspective is distorted because I live in Montreal, but most Liberals I know have much more of a problem with the Conservatives than the NDP. I think the Liberals are basically a progressive party at heart, just more pragamatic and fiscally responsible than the NDP. No doubt there’s some distrust and dislike between the Liberals and NDP, but I think those sentiments pale beside how Liberals feel about Harper. I know from my point of view I despise Harper, while I find Layton to be more of an annoyance.

    I agree that if the coalition govt came into being it would have to position itself more to the right than might be expected (to counter Conservative fear campaigns that it would be some kind of radical govt controlled by “socialists and separatists”). I would expect it to govern in a very similar style as the Obama administration. So I can see a definite upside for the LPC.

    • I’d say that a lot of Liberal voters — perhaps not activists — identify, to put it mildly, with the status quo, so NDP rhetoric about economic injustice can seem threatening to them. Also the NDP track record is not one of fiscal restraint, an idea which resonated with the middle class and which the Liberals owned (and still own to a large degree). I’d suggest that you belong to the progressive wing of the Liberal party?

  17. Harper’s biggest advantage is its easier to write about two camps than five.

  18. jean, it is because you live in montreal. if NDP actually won seats regularly in quebec (if the Mulcair wins were a real long term trend and spread) the Quebec libs would march to the right in a hurry. Quebec libs think the dippers are kind of cute, furry creatures from another planet , don’t understand them and bring them home like pets, kind of like that Gremlins movie. Ontarian libs understand the visceral hate much of their voter base has for the 1990-95 experiment

  19. Oh! Of course! That’s what’s going on. People are thinking of 1990-95 Ontario situation. Thanks keitch c.

  20. Although, when you think about it, is the analogy correct…

    (a) Isn’t the NDP’s surprise election win in 1995 mostly attributable to Bob Rae’s appeal and wasn’t it kind of a fluky thing anyway?

    (b) You could also argue 1995 was in the long-term interests of the Ontario Libs because it permanently removed the NDP as serious contenders for power.

    • The NDP won in Ontario in 1990. They lost in 1995.

  21. Paul Wells —you can be cruel
    Just when most folks were agreeing with you and I and most rational thinkers that this coalition was bizarre at best and downright dangerous at worst,you go ahead and throw a post out there and revive the whole thing again.
    You must have known that just by bringing up the possibility that Iggy might try that coalition thing you were going to get the old coalition forces all lathered up.
    You woke up Jean Proulx and Jack Mitchell got himself so twisted into a pretzel that he was proposing Iggy would take 2 left-wing parties into a coalition and then move the whole mess to the right. Now there`s A Big Lie I`d like to see play out.
    Actually ( since everybody else is doing it ) I`ll say you`re a helluva writer—–and I do have your book——-$34.99—–someboby must have given it to me.

    • FWIW, I wasn’t suggesting that Iggy move the Coalition rightwards, I was suggesting that he move the Liberals rightwards inside a Coalition, in preparation for destroying it. Preferably he would provoke the NDP to call it off so that he would reestablish the difference between the Liberals and NDP in time for an election. That’s not, technically, a “Big Lie” at all — a “Big Lie” is when you alter public perception of fact so as to make a lie become the accepted truth. This would just be spin of the normal, everyday, hi-how-ya-doin’ political sort.

  22. When I read the title, I thought PW would be writing about the simmering Iggy-Rae or the Iggy-Dominic war (ref – Star story today on grumblings about the “Rosedale Circle”).

    The interesting thing about this is that Tom Flanagan has a column in today’s G&M that disses the coalition with some convoluted Poli Sci 101 mumbo jumbo. Makes ya wonder if TheStrategist ™ is planning something that would enable him to actually run against the coalition.

    I mean, let’s face it – the last thing Harper wants is to govern through a recession. He’d much rather be running around calling people names and picking fights with imaginary opponents.

  23. Iggy is between rock and hard place and I don’t see how he can get himself out of it. He’s wearing the Coalition for the next one or two elections no matter what he says/does because the public don’t follow the minutiae of daily politics and all they will remember is the photo of the three leaders signing that document.

    I think Iggy and his Toronto staff have some interesting problems to face, and the first one is the budget. I have read lots the past month or two about how Libs were really demoralized when they continually voted with Cons, or abstained, under Dion because they weren’t ready for election. So now Libs are all fired up about not propping up Cons again but they might have little choice in the matter because nothing suggests to me they are ready for another election while NDP and BQ seem quite content to go to polls again.

    I am really interested to see how Iggy/Libs handle budget vote in few weeks. Vote against budget and Libs are back in bed with ‘socialists and separatists’ or vote for and they are propping up Cons again on a budget that is likely to contain measures they don’t actually support.

    • I think the coalition needs a way to declare victory and go home. The cautious route: Ignatieff can point to large, near-term stimulus in the January budget and take credit for making that happen, then go coast to coast with the message that the coalition served its purpose and is now dead.

      He may even need to pick a fight with the NDP to prove his point.

      However, I fully expect Harper to stick another poison pill in the budget forcing Libs to publicly hold their nose and vote for it regardless. In this case Iggy can at least claim to be putting Canada’s best interests ahead of his own party’s.

      Whether Canadians will believe this messaging is a different story, but I don’t see an alternative.

      • Agree that Iggy needs to vote for budget as long as there is nothing too extreme, like some read meat policies for so-cons or somesuch. Maybe Libs voting for budget is the fight with NDP you mention because I think NDP/BQ have already said there is no way they are supporting budget.

        I have no idea how Libs get past people’s visceral dislike of Coalition, BQ specifically. Cons have basically turned themselves into Lib-lites now and during election they will be talking about Lib/BQ coalition all the time. Libs have been playing on peoples fears for a long time now when it comes to Cons but now that they have revealed themselves to be non-threatening, maybe Cons will be able to use fear against Libs.

        Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting for us political junkies.

  24. I firmly believe the narrative will go like this:

    Conservatives provide $30B (spending + tax cuts). Coalition will be declared DOA by Michael I. Basic reason for coalition – no stimulus until May. Stimulus provided in January? Pat on the back to the opposition, the threat of the coalition scared the government into acting.

    Will the voters buy it? We’ll see.

    But I think more time as opposition leader helps not hurts Ignatieff, and if he’s smart, the Liberals will not bring down the government. If.

  25. Paul, as per my comment you made reference to above in your post:

    I am clearly an incredibly poor writer….to much time writing in ‘bullet form’ for powerpoint! Damn corporate Canada!

    Glad you could find the logic in a rather inarticulate comment.

  26. “I think this is a really important question because mark my words, Harper will run against his depiction of a coalition government, whether the opposition parties want a coalition or not.”

    The danger in that is he will reinforce the idea that the ballot question could be, ‘would you like a united right government versus a virtual united center-left government?’ Purists might be disenchanted but if all those Alliance and Progressive Conservatives moved past their angst, Liberals, Greens and New Democrats will too. I guess in Quebec we’ll see how it plays out with the Sovereignist Bloc versus the Quebec-First Bloc.

  27. Paul- You didn’t take your argument to it’s conclusion. You state, quite rightly, that Harper will run against the coalition and, if he is held to a minority he will have to either fish or cut bait. By legitimizing the coalition he cannot allow it to govern. A catch 22 situation by your logic.

    You forgot one tentacle of the argument. By running against the coalition Harper will force Iggy to state unequivocally where he stands. If he continues with his mantra ‘a coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition’ he will drive centrist voters to the CPC. If, on the other hand he comes out and clearly states, which I believe he will, that he is not running as a coalition then where does that leave him if he does not win a majority.

    If Harper is returned with a minority Iggy will be ‘hooped’. He will be unable to form a coalition as he has run on a platform stating that he wouldn’t. He will be forced to either go back on his word which will infuriate the voters or support Harper in his minority government. As I do not see any credible scenario where the Liberals will get more seats than the CPC next time I believe that it is Iggy who is in the untenable position.

    If he equivocates he will look like Mr. Dither’s. the sequel. Just asking. Cheers.

    • Sandra – I agree with everythng you said except:

      “As I do not see any credible scenario where the Liberals will get more seats than the CPC next time”

      The world changes very fast indeed, especially with a leader who has potential but is not very well known.

  28. jean – is there much point in engaging you? 1) bob was elected in ’90, not 95, but maybe you don’t get west of dorval much / weren’t alive then. 2) bob has undeniable political gifts, but the NDP won on mostly a protest vote. a lot of ontario middle of the roaders were uninspired with the Liberals and Tories of the time and decided what the hell, let’s take a chance on these guys. most of those voters regretted that decision. It follows that it’s no accident that ontario libs subsequently bet (correctly) on the rightish McGuinty rather than leftish Kennedy as the one to bring them back. Witness the barely concealed extreme discomfort with the coalition exhibited by Scarborough lib MPs like McKay and Karygiannis – they lived through that painful time. 3) 1995 was in the long term interests of the Ontario libs? LOL. Well, since I can’t tell if you really mean 1990 or 1995 (both years were rather sucky for the ontario libs) it’s hard to respond. It’s a pretty funny parallel for you to draw with your coalition support though – the lib-ndp-separatist coalition will be such a disaster that it’s good for the liberals long term – they will return to power in 2018 with a crushing majority! That’s the most awesome theory all day. best regards, keith

    • keith c,

      thank you for the dick-ish tone of your message.

      The point i was trying to make is that if the NDP are the ones that end up benefiting from a successful coalition experiment and end up finally winning an election afterward, this could be to the long-term benefit of the Liberals (i.e. if a Layton NDP govt was as much of a mess as the Rae-led NDP one).

      Basically I am saying that power would expose the NDP. For once they wouldn’t be standing self righteously the sidelines criticizing the actions of a Liberal or Conservative govt.. They would have to make real decisions and try to square their ideology with political and economic reality.

  29. Paul,
    Brilliant point.
    And to toot my own horn, exactly the point I posted on Wherry two days ago (even before the latest Harper comments) ….and shamelessly repeated (cause I thought Harper had just proved my point) ….on the Whyte interview comment board yesterday.
    The only response I got was from a conbot saying that I was delusional!

    So welcome to the delusion!

    • But it is a delusion and despite your self-congratulatory tone I don`t think it`s right to for people to lead you on and contribute to your delusion.
      Just think for a minute.
      Most voters think the coalition was a really bad idea.
      Warren Kinsella is an advisor to Iggy.
      Warren thinks the coalition is a really bad idea.
      Warren knows really bad ideas don`t win elections.
      Warren likes to win elections.

      • Let’s see:

        PW is a respected journalist who fearlessly slags all politicians for their foibles regardless of their stripe (or even his former admiration).

        WK is a hopelessly partisan player who has slagged the Liberal party for at least 4 years and doesn’t like the coalition cause it didn’t adhere to his plan for the future (ie WK calling the shots and being indispensable to the new leader).

        hmmm tough call

        • Well ,I think you better check with Wells before you side him up in the Delusional Coalition and Kinsella is no Saint but he is rational.

          • He just doesn’t mean half of what he says.

  30. Wells *is* a good writer. But, by the way, so is the Jurist who has been writing up a storm over at Accidental Deliberations for quite awhile. What’s remarkable about Paul is that he may be the only gallery member to actually read the Jurist, or write about it anyway. That’s what makes this blog a mandatory read: the willingness to read and consider multiple points of view, and the commitment to present them.

  31. Definitely a severe case of over-thinking it. Just translate the proposition as follows:

    “Chretien will deploy formidable resources at the next election to pin this opulent record on Harper and make him the Two tier American-style Reform Alliance Leader, whatever Harper wants to run as.”

  32. So goes the USA Canada is not far behind…Aint that crappy.

  33. You all are fighting the last war.

    It is also apparent that you have been spending too much time reading the Hill Times and political blogs and not enough time reading Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Report on Business.

    We are about six months into a very long, deep and seriously painful world-wide recession. Optimistic projections have the USA economy contracting 2.2 – 2.5% this year with an unemployment rate of 10% by the end of 2009 and a budget deficit close to 20% of GDP. The other G-7 countries are in a similar position and there is every indication that this trend will continue for at least the next three years. Flaherty is talking about a $30B deficit this year but that is wildly optimistic. Unemployment is up again this month. The auto makers – both Asian and American – have suspended production for 2 weeks to a couple of months and it is probable that Chrysler will seek bankruptcy protection next month. The resource industries are shedding jobs like falling autumn leaves and crude oil and gasoline reserves are so high that crude prices are continuing to fall, giving Alberta major heartburn. And to top it off, in spite of the best whining by Stelmach and Harper, the USA Admin this summer will press ahead to ban the import of “dirty:oil”, thus paving the way for Fort McMurray to become the next Elliot Lake.

    Does anyone seriously think that six months from now the folks in the UI line-up or at the Welfare office are going to be weighing the relative merits of some obscure political event that happened eight months previously? More than likely they are going to be worrying whether it will be fried bologna or hamburger helper for dinner that night. If the Calgary Chicken thinks he can drum up sufficient fear of a distantly remembered “Coalition” to get the electorate to vote for him at a time when parents (and their parents) are struggling to feed and clothe their children, he is even more out of touch with reality than Inkless described a couple of days ago.

    “It is the economy, stupid” and it is bleaker than anything we have ever seen in the past.

    • “The resource industries are shedding jobs like falling autumn leaves and crude oil and gasoline reserves are so high that crude prices are continuing to fall, giving Alberta major heartburn. And to top it off, in spite of the best whining by Stelmach and Harper, the USA Admin this summer will press ahead to ban the import of “dirty:oil”, thus paving the way for Fort McMurray to become the next Elliot Lake.”

      Yah think? I think not, because “secure energy” trumps “dirty oil” every time.

      As for crude prices falling, how long do you think it will take for OPEC to step in, more significantly?

      The reality is, oil is a commodity. It may be falling in price right now, but I’d argue that’s more a reflection of a combination of the over-inflated oil market of last year with the economic downturn. And the fact that oil is a commodity, very different in nature from uranium, makes your Elliot Lake analogy relatively lame. A town with populations varying between 6k and 36k compared to a province with a much more diverse economy than ‘just oil’? Give your head a shake already.

  34. “When two tribes go to war”

    What a great blog post title..