By Paul Wells - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
It’s not clear what Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath expects from the province’s next Liberal premier, whom the party will select on Jan. 26. She’s “open to working to get results for the people of this province,” in contrast to Conservative opposition leader Tim Hudak, who likes his chances in an election and will likely withhold confidence as early as possible to try to get one.
Does that mean Horwath wants a Liberal-NDP coalition? Continue…
By John Geddes - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM - 442 Comments
I suppose it was a tactical error for Michael Ignatieff to describe the way the parliamentary system works in his interview today with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge.
You might imagine it wouldn’t be all that risky to display a rudimentary understanding of the conventions of the House of Commons, as inherited by Canada from Britain. But there you’d be wrong. This will be treated as big campaign news, and the Conservatives are naturally all over it.
By John Geddes - Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM - 28 Comments
The question, it seems to me, is a simple one: can the party that didn’t win the most seats in a Canadian election legitimately form a government? Well, I guess it would be better to say deceptively simple.
As you may have heard, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is darkly warning on the campaign trail that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff secretly plans to try to win this election without winning. If the Conservatives fail to secure a majority on May 2, Ignatieff will, with the backing of the NDP and Bloc Québécois, deny the Tories a chance to govern.
By John Geddes - Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 3:37 PM - 129 Comments
There’s nothing like a campaign that opens with the two main combatants essentially accusing each other of the being outright liars.
So it was on the first day of the 41st Canadian general election, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hurling accusations of mendacity at each other over the matter of parliamentary coalitions.
Ignatieff had faced insistent questioning from reporters the day before on whether he would contemplate entering into a coalition with the other opposition parties if his Liberals placed second in the May 2 vote, in a bid to deny Harper the chance to form another minority government even if his Tories place first.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 9:03 AM - 37 Comments
Here’s the key question in the new Nanos poll:
“QUESTION: Thinking of our current national political scene [Rotate] some people think that political change would be risky to our economic stability while others think that if the government changed it would have no impact on the stability of the economy. Which of these two views, if either, best reflects your personal opinion?”
Just to be clear, the “[Rotate]” simply means that about half the sample was asked, “Thinking of our current national political scene some people think that if the government changed it would have no impact on the stability of the economy, while others think that political change would be risky to our economic stability. Which of these two views, if either, best reflects your personal opinion?”
Now. Do you think political change would be risky? Or do you think that if the government changed it would have no impact on the stability of the economy?
It’s a trick question. Because whatever you answer, I’m going to give your answer to the Globe and Mail and they’re going to say you were talking about a coalition government.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister yesterday in Ajax, Ont. (as noted by Colleague Wherry):
“The next election will be a choice between a coalition government of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois, or a stable Conservative majority government for this country.”
Compare that with my boss Ken Whyte’s interview with Harper just before New Year’s Day, 2009:
Obviously, if we had an election today somebody will have a majority because it will be either Canada’s Conservative government or the coalition. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 9:58 AM - 128 Comments
As we lead up to the return of the House, battle lines are being…
As we lead up to the return of the House, battle lines are being drawn over the legitimacy of the forgotten-but-not-dead coalition. Two clear positions have emerged: On the one side, there is a group we can call the Democrats. The Democrats believe that while the coalition may be constitutionally ok in a narrow, legal sense, it violates basic principles of democratic legitimacy. Two prominent Democrats are Michael Bliss and Norman Spector.
On the other side are the Parliamentarians. This group — which includes almost every academic in the country — points out that we elected a parliament, not a party or a president; that parliamentary coalitions are unremarkable in all sorts of civilied countries; and that Harper’s Conservatives had clearly lost the confidence of the House, with a stable government waiting to take over.
At the start, I was a staunch Parliamentarian, and I took Harper to task for claiming that the coalition was an attempt to overturn the results of the last election. I believed the coalition was politically a Bad Idea, but both constitutionally sound and democratically legitimate. I have changed my mind. I am now a Democrat; I have become persuaded by the arguments of men like Professor Bliss — whose piece on the Madness was the best thing he’s written in years — and finally of Richard Van Loon, who has a finely argued piece in today’s OC. Here’s the best part:
So what really makes a coalition legitimate?
International precedents suggest three conditions. One is that the country faces a compelling national emergency, usually a major war. A second, broadly applicable in less troubled times, is that voters must know in advance that they are voting for potential members of a coalition, one which will govern if its members can claim a majority of seats in the legislature immediately after the election. A third is that a party with a plurality, already in government or immediately after an election, forms the coalition and immediately seeks support of the legislature. But as the New Zealand experience in the late 1990s suggests the latter is not always a successful strategy. Stable coalitions in peacetime are virtually always underpinned by the results of an election in which voters were aware of the possibility of their formation.
The current coalition agreement in Canada does not meet any of these tests…
My interview with Peter Russell, who disagrees with me on this, will appear soon.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 11:23 AM - 12 Comments
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the reckless way Prime Minister Stephen Harper all but dared his opponents to form a coalition—providing them a catalyst for colluding and ample grounds for arguing their plan is legitimate—is that he has clearly thought through coalition scenarios in the past.
The fact that he contemplated forming a coalition of some sort with the NDP and Bloc in 2004 is now beyond dispute: along with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, he put it in writing. But there is also no doubt that he worried about the prospect of a Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition much more recently, during the fall election campaign.
About one week before the Oct. 14 vote, a change of tone took hold in Harper’s campaign rhetoric. Stéphane Dion’s campaign, after being written off by many early on, was showing signs of life in the stretch run. On the hustings in British Columbia, Harper suddenly seemed to sense danger, and he turned up the rhetorical intensity a few notches.
At a new conference in Victoria on Oct. 8, he caught reporters off guard by presenting the hypothesis that Stéphane Dion might actually become prime minister, but not necessarily in the usual way. “If you get Prime Minister Dion either directly or by the opposition parties helping him take power,” Harper said, “…interest rates are going to be going up.”
Leaving that interest rates warning aside, clearly Harper was thinking about something like the scenario we now face. Which makes it all the more surprising that he allowed it, or even caused it, to unfold. If he hadn’t really considered this possibility, he’d might seem less culpable. But since he demonstrably saw in various contexts how a coalition might emerge, his strategic blunder appears all the worse, and the damage to his reputation as a parliamentary strategist that much more severe.
By selley - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 4:11 PM - 15 Comments
Must-reads: Greg Weston, John Ivison and Chantal Hébert recap election night.
If anyone’s happy about what went on last night, we haven’t found them.
The National Post‘s John Ivison says Stéphane Dion “has no ability to subject others to his will; no capacity for calculating the resistance and prejudice his ideas might generate; and, no sense of how to turn complicated events to his own advantage.” Sounds about right to us. In the past tense, it might make a fitting epitaph. Perhaps Winston Churchill could have sold the Green Shift to Canadians, Ivison suggests, but not Dion. (Trippy. We dreamed about Churchill pitching the Green Shift last night!)
On the bright side for the Liberals, Don Macpherson notes in the Montreal Gazette, “the distribution of seats in the next Parliament is such that the Conservatives can’t be defeated on a confidence vote until [they] are ready to do so.” As for the dark side… well, y’all know what the dark side is already, right?
By selley - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 12:14 PM - 3 Comments
LONG-WEEKEND ELECTION DAY ROUNDUP!
Must-reads: Scott Taylor on shortsighted thinking in Afghanistan; …Chantal Hébert
LONG-WEEKEND ELECTION DAY ROUNDUP!
Wasn’t that fun?
Congratulations to Canada’s political leaders on a job… done. Now, let’s talk about high-speed rail!
Memo to anyone being interviewed by the Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe: if she agrees to start the interview over again, she really hasn’t. “CTV was on solid footing,” she writes, in deciding to air Dion’s confusion over what she calls “a simple question.” Why? Because “voters surely were entitled to make up their own minds” about what, if anything, the exchange meant. This strikes us as rather weak, especially if CTV has any other political do-overs in the can, but we certainly agree with her second point—which is that Harper’s reaction to the tape represented yet another needless and counterproductive “meany” moment.
“Harper’s move was perhaps cheap and dirty,” says Sun Media’s Greg Weston, “but such is the current five-week mudfest.” Thankfully for Canadians, he adds, “Dion’s faulty earfull [whatever that is] didn’t happen during a crucial tete-a-tete between prime minister and president at the White House.” Indeed, we hear both John McCain and Barack Obama rely heavily on hypothetical questions that transcend the space-time continuum.
By selley - Friday, October 10, 2008 at 12:46 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: John Robson on our “disgusting” politics; Don Martin on the Dion interview; …Chantal
Must-reads: John Robson on our “disgusting” politics; Don Martin on the Dion interview; Chantal Hébert on Harper’s Quebec debacle; Lorne Gunter on the Canadian economy; Rosie DiManno on negotiating with the Taliban; Jeffrey Simpson on Dion-mania.
“We got nothing”
In which Canadian politics touches bottom in the cesspool, and starts digging.
John Robson‘s column in the Ottawa Citizen isn’t about what you might think it’s about, but his lede is entirely apropos today: “With the election just days away, it’s not enough to declare that contemporary Canadian politics is disgusting. You need to show it.” His evidence, as usual, involves the dozens of asinine, self-congratulatory, “redolent of the frat house” press releases that arrive in his inbox every day during the campaign, and the unalloyed lies political leaders spew on the campaign trail—such as Jack Layton’s assurances, “despite clear evidence to the contrary from the Quebec National Assembly’s Journal of Debates,” that Thomas Mulcair never advocated exporting fresh water. “It’s the tone of angry self-satisfaction that I find not merely unjustified but actively disgraceful, given public disenchantment with the whole business,” he writes, eliciting firm nods of agreement throughout the land. “OK, guys. You got them, and they got you. But we got nothing.”
On the National Post‘s Full Comment blog, Don Martin contributes the best-yet reaction to CTV’s jaw-dropping hatchet job on Stéphane Dion. “Aside from the questionable ethics of CTV airing a segment when both Mr. Dion and interviewer Steve Murphy twice agreed to restart the interview to clarify the question”—questionable at best, we’d say—”this is a damning insight into how desperate the Conservatives have become in their battle to belittle a Liberal leader they never dreamed could pose a threat to their government,” and “may actually provide more telling insight into the character of Stephen Harper.”
By selley - Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 1:49 PM - 29 Comments
Must-reads: Colby Cosh on arts funding.
Welcome to the ‘final desperate phase’…
Must-reads: Colby Cosh on arts funding.
Welcome to the ‘final desperate phase’
Elbows up! Brass knuckles on! Steel-toed boots at the ready!
The Toronto Star‘s Thomas Walkom attributes the ongoing Liberal turnaround, if that’s what it is, to Stephen Harper’s “muffed” reaction to the financial crisis and also to Stéphane Dion’s performance in the debates, which, “after watching months of Conservative ads attacking the Liberal leader as weak,” finally gave Canadians the chance “to judge [him] themselves.” (Hmm. He did make a few speeches here and there, didn’t he?) Nevertheless, Walkom didn’t really appreciate the fact that the Grits might “pull off a coup” on Tuesday until he witnessed a waiter in a hotel banquet hall react to a Dion speech with “furious” applause and the following outburst: “That’s my party, man. Doesn’t matter whether you like the candidate or not. Focus on the party. That’s my party.” Dude sounds like either a plant or a speed freak to us, but perhaps we’re just being cynical.
George Jonas casts caution and reams of polling data to the wind and predicts a Harper majority, based on his performance in the leaders’ debates. The opposition leaders must “have figured that if they could taint the Conservative leader with a trace of conservatism, or reveal him to be anything but an unconditional supporter of the left-liberal, invasive, soak-the-rich, cradle-to-grave regulatory state, Canadians would have nothing to do with him,” he writes in the National Post. Instead, “exhibiting generalship Prince Mikhail Kutuzov would have envied, Harper lured his hubris-ridden opponents to their doom, just as Russia’s steadily retreating saviour lured Napoleon after Borodino by surrendering the fatal charms of Moscow to him.” (Damn! We were going to say that!)