John Ivision and I appear to be on the same wavelength here – Minority time is up:
It is majority government or bust for the Conservatives in the coming election. The more the leaders of the Liberal party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois talk, the more it becomes apparent that they are prepared to form a coalition of losers, in the event the House of Commons returns in something approximating its current form…
[Inserted link is mine and just for the record, my blog post was published early yesterday morning.]
The whole column is a must-read.
While the notion of a coalition is not an illegitimate one in our Parliamentary system, there are a few issues that need to be clarified. Ivison brings up the “Coalition of Losers” aspect here:
…Mr. Ignatieff, wary of walking into this potential minefield, refused to rule out a coalition, instead wittering on about the election being a choice between walking through blue doors or red doors.
But the Liberal leader knows his chances of becoming Prime Minister without the NDP’s help are slim to none.
In the past, he has defended coalitions as “perfectly legitimate” and said he’d be prepared to lead one after the next election. Clearly, in his mind it would not be a coup if his party came second and tossed the largest party from government.
While Mr. Ignatieff is right that to do so would be legitimate from a constitutional point of view, Canadians are used to governments being formed by the party that wins the election.
A similar situation in the U.K.-last year, where the second place Labour Party and third-place Liberal Democrats held discussions about trying to form a government, was met with apprehension by voters…
So if the next election produced a weak Liberal minority and the NDP formally agreed to support it, I would call that a legitimate coalition – even if we had to tolerate Thomas Mulcair and Bully Pat Martin sitting in cabinet.
However in the case of a Conservative minority, one wonders if voters would have a similar apprehension that the British had to a Liberal-NDP loser coalition – especially if it required the written support of the Bloc to keep it going.
I suspect that optics of that kind of situation would not sit well with voters anywhere west of Quebec – and especially in light of the Bloc’s insatiable appetite for “squeezing more milk out of the old ROC cow,” since their only mandate is to look out for La Belle Province.
That one’s going to be a tough sell.
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Lorne Gunter: Libs, NDP will get burned unless they’re honest about coalition – Full Comment (H/T Springer)