Scott Reid, the former aide to Paul Martin, notes the important distinction between a pre-election coalition and a post-election coalition.
Indeed, from a Liberal perspective, a pre-campaign coalition of the centre-left is far worse than a bad idea. It is a betrayal of the party’s identity, history and future prospects. Why? Because what’s being proposed is not a true parliamentary coalition. It is a political combination or, more accurately: a merger.
It’s important to clarify these terms. Typically in Canadian experience, a coalition between parties is understood to mean a parliamentary alliance established in the aftermath of a general election – usually a minority circumstance. This is in keeping with accepted traditions of both the country and the party. Post-electoral coalitions of a formal and informal nature have populated minority parliaments frequently over the past century and Liberals have often taken part. Consideration of such coalitions should definitely be maintained in future.