Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mexican Standoff in Ottawa - are they all crazy?

If there was any doubt before now that there's something in the water in Ottawa, this week should make the answer clear.

All political parties appear to have lost their collective minds.

First - Stephen Harper is proving in spades why Canadians have for two elections in a row made sure they only gave the Conservatives minority support.

The outrageously self-serving attempt to financially destroy all the other political parties by removing standing public funding - funding that makes our electoral system more democratic and less influenced by big money donors - was a classic Harper hardball move that backfired.

Whether you agree or not with public funding - or even know about it - there is no question the Conservatives intended to fatally wound their main opponents, the Liberal Party, by dramatically reducing their income by many million dollars.

The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party would also be significantly harmed by a move that would save $30 million out of a government budget of $240 billion.

It appears that the Conservatives will now drop the removal of public funding from their economic bill but the fact that they put it in as part of the government response to the worldwide financial crisis is despicable and unconscionably partisan at the worst possible time.

That move provoked a furious response from the opposition parties - which is justifiable - and ongoing plans to attempt to form an alternative coalition government - which is completely unjustifiable.

They are now attempting to argue that removing Harper is because of the failure of the Conservative government to offer an appropriate economic stimulus plan. True or not, the instability that this would create in Canada at a dangerous time is far more damaging than passing a lacklustre Tory bill.

And when the Barack Obama government takes office in January 2009, we will see what economic leadership our largest trading partner shows and then act accordingly. There is plenty of time for a change of course and a more vigorous response.

Anyone who reads this blog or my columns knows that I am no friend of Stephen Harper or the Conservatives.

But they just won the most seats in Parliament in a free and fair democratic vote.

Any attempt to replace Harper as prime minister with the fallen leader of the Liberal Party, Stephane Dion, or even worse, a prime minister chosen by the caucus of Liberal MPs is ridiculous.

The Liberal Party suffered its worst defeat ever in this past election. It has no electoral, political or moral mandate to lead Canada, period.

And to those diehard anti-Conservative activists of any political stripe who desperately want Harper out, consider this: the former Liberal government of Jean Chretien and his Finance Minister Paul Martin did far more damage - lasting damage - to social programs in Canada than either the Brian Mulroney or Stephen Harper Conservative governments.

Chretien and Martin slashed social program spending on health care and education to an unparalleled degree, balancing Canada's budget on the backs of this countries' neediest citizens.

Which brings me to the New Democratic Party and leader Jack Layton.

The NDP should not, repeat, not be enabling the Liberal Party in its shameless efforts to regain power when Canadians have democratically rejected them.

The Liberals are a discredited party led by a discredited leader. They need to renew, reorganize and reform themselves - not form a government!

And if the NDP ally themselves with the Liberals after years of clearly showing the significant differences between a social democratic party and a centre-right party that is not progressive when in government, they risk disaster.

And the NDP should not, repeat, not be working with the Bloc Quebecois - an unabashedly separatist party - to replace the current government.

Those, like author Margaret Atwood, who have spoken favourably of the Bloc Quebecois's social democratic tendencies seem to forget that their prime goal, their sole reason for existence, is to break Quebec away from Canada.

They have every democratic right to do so and so long as Quebec voters send them to Ottawa, the represent a significant part of the country.

But the NDP and Liberals work hand-in-glove with separatists at their enormous peril.

I fear that Canadians will have no sympathy for the NDP or Liberals, no matter what arguments they make about the Conservatives, and will punish them severely whenever the next federal election takes place.

Canadians clearly want all parties to cooperate as much as possible in a time of economic crisis.

The Conservatives failed that test just weeks after being elected.

Now the opposition parties are attempting to fail in an even worse way.

It's time for all parties to stop playing games and start saving jobs and investment - get on with it!


Anonymous said...

Bill, excellent analysis. I'm on your same wavelength in its entirety in this regard and couldn't have said it better myself!!

Anonymous said...

The opposition parties are showing too little, too late.

A coalition was needed back in the late summer when Harper went to the GG and said he was unable to govern. At that time Dion (showing again why he is not fit to lead) should have pieced together a coalition to take Canada's long suffering electorate through to the 4 year October 2009 election... But no.

One area that the conservatives consistently kick ass is SPIN; nobody can turn a turd faster - in fact: NASA is thinking of hiring them to do 'recycling' work on the space station.

Anonymous said...

The Conservatives under Harper are moving along a strange path and losing friends by doing so. One G& Mail column today mentioned that his first thoughts in the morning is to figure a way to crush the other parties. Everything else is secondary. He doesn't like having to work with a minority and does his utmost to rub others noses in the fact he has a government, so does little to work with the other parties. The man is a fool to think he will last for a number of years neglecting the lack of a majority position. Many Canadians are starting to feel they are stuck with a guy who is a bit of a jerk and could care less for anyone else. The ship is sinking and the leader ignores them all. To attempt to ban the right to strike, for example, upsets folks who worked for years to get free collective bargaining. The set aside money for elections stops the big pockets guys from passing out big dollars in return for favours later. The combined opposition are simply letting him know that if he keeps calling each vote a confidence motion, they are going to anything they can to drop him. The Liberals lost a lot of face going along with him last time and heard from their supporters it has to stop. Yes he democratically won a minority government but that doesn't give him the divine rights of long ago kings. Oh and if he sort of forgot, a lot of folks are about to go broke as companies once figured firepoof are shutting down. Can one blame the other parties for joining up to thump him. If he was smart enought to have learned to get working with the other parties instead of trying to destroy them, the country would be in a better position to survive the recession we are moving into right now.

I have never voted Conservative or reform in my life as their interests are not the same as mine.

Anonymous said...

If the Coalition decides to oust the Cons the gov't will have more of a mandate than the current Conservative one.

After all, more people voted Lib and NDP than Conservative.

If the G-G somehow thinks this isn't right and minority governments should not be defeated in Canada then she will not allow the Coalition to rule and we can have new elections.

And keep having them every 90 days until the Conservatives are the only party with any money left to contest an election. Perhaps then they will get the result they think they already deserve.

Then Bill we will have your democracy where the biggest party can be free to bankrupt the smaller parties and rule in perpetuity.

Of course there's still a chance Michelle Jean will decide there's nothing wrong with a Coalition with 63% of the vote taking power from a party with 37%.


Bill Tieleman said...

Frank - your argument would only hold water if voters had been told before the election by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc that they would work together to form a coalition government - and imagine what that would have led to!

In fact, they said the exact opposite.

You simply cannot argue that because people voted for an opposition party that they want them to all work together.

If the NDP and Liberals want to run together in the next election, let them say so.

That will be far more democratic and give me time to find someone else to vote for!

G West said...

I think you're overly apprehensive Bill - this action is perfectly democratic and within the metes and bounds of parliamentary and Constitutional practice. We have representative government here in Canada and the voters will have their chance, in due time, to judge the results of Harper's arrogant error. If the coalition forms and succeeds in addressing the ‘real’ problems of the nation, I think that it won’t have any ethical problems with delivering Harper to his own destruction.

This is how Labour originally came to power in England (as you must know), and it's an opportunity the NDP would be foolish not to explore. Change happens, and this is one of those times that it may be best to grasp the brass ring.

Harper created this situation and now he's going to have to wear it, one way or the other.

As for the role of the Bloc, I'd rather have them in the tent and talking....that's the way things get better.

It's either that or let Harper and Campbell sell the rest of the country....

Anonymous said...

Au contraire Mr Tielmann, what's proposed is not a merger, its a coalition. The parties remain separate.

As for voters not receiving what they voted for, again, that isn't correct. 63% voted for a non-Conservative gov't and that's what the Coalition is about. So voters are indeed getting what they asked for.

One can split hairs and say that NDPers, Liberals and Bloc voters did not vote for a Coalition either and that's true, but we have representative democracy and we all understand that once elected our MPs are free to thumb their noses at us. As the Conservatives are doing. Canadians after all did not vote for a gov't that would remove the financing from the other parties so that we would have a one party state either.

To paraphrase Henry Ford, under the Conservatives Bill, next election you will have the freedom to vote for any party you choose as long as its Tory Blue because the other parties will be bankrupt and unable to contest even straw polls for local dogcatcher.

Normally one would expect gov't using its power to smite its political enemies to happen only in BC (denying the NDP offical opposition status) but apparently our way of doing politics has now crossed the Rockies. I look at the Coaliton idea as simply being easterners throwing it back at us.

Thank you for the opportunity to post


Anonymous said...

Layton has caused himself irreparable damage with his hopping in the sack with the Bloc. I can only hope, this irresponsibility doesn't pull down the party with him.

Anonymous said...

Our system allows for the extraordinary outcomes being debated here and elsewhere.

As unusual as a coalition government would be, it's the Prime Minister in his diabolical glee who's made it possible.

Now that Harper has removed the political funding issue from the mix, we're left to debate the merits of 1-doing nothing for now and 2-doing something to save jobs, etc

On those options.. where does Harper stand? The Prime Minister, speaking in Peru recently, talked about a stimulus package.. even if it resulted in a deficit. But now, apparently, it's prudent to take a wait and see approach. Regardless of which position you believe is the best for our country, how can we have any confidence in Harper's direction.. when it seems the Conservatives are confused.

That's the issue now, as I see it.


Anonymous said...

Hello Bill,

Your post was an interesting piece of analysis.

I was one of the voters in the last election who wanted a minority Tory government. In a close riding, I voted Libertarian for the first time in my life). I agree with you that the Liberals should be reforming themselves--under a new leader--but I also see nothing wrong with them trying to form a coalition with the NDP. In other democratic countries, particularly those with proportional representation, this kind of horse-trading is normal and expected. I might not like such a coalition, but voters can hold the NDP and the Liberals accountable in the next election (probably sooner rather than later).

NRF said...

I believe a coalition government would bring about real change. Imagine, Gilles Duceppe as our new Prime Minister.

Anonymous said...

This is the same vindictive and juvenile behaviour the Right Unctuous Gordon Campbell displayed when he kicked the NDP in the teeth with his jackboots and denied them official opposition status by wrongfully claiming that BC’s constitution act clearly states that two seats are insufficient to form the official opposition and thus denying them the millions of dollars they were entitled too. Campbell and Harper are obviously cut from the same morally thread bare cloth, the only difference being, he isn’t under a cloud of political corruption – yet.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't this coalition gov't resemble voter proportional representation moreso than the 30something %,past the post that conservative leadership gives? Sadly tho' the Greens are not in on the talks, YET.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted by all of our politicians...yet again. Harper's foolish, incendiary gamemanship is unbelievable at a time when we need cooperation by all parties.
That said, if there is any move to coalition or re-election, the Libs & NDP will never receive another vote from me and I will work hard to help the Conservatives gain a majority.

Anonymous said...

Some points:

1 - I remember an interview with Ujjal Dosanjh on election night. He was livid about the Liberals behaviour prior to the election in allowing Conservative bills to pass in order to avoid an early election and the NDP's crowing about it. This has been brewing for a while. I agree with Bill that more than just the Conservatives are to blame for this. I also have to wonder how well or how long the NDP would get along in a cabinet with Rae and Dosanjh.
2 - I agree that the Tories do not have a mandate to change the party funding system - it was never mentioned in their campaign. Could the Bloc NewDemalibs not offer admendments including parts of their economic platforms from the last election? The Conservatives could interpret it as a confidence motion, or the they could withdraw the bill, resubmit it with some of the admendments added and thus a compromise would be established. In-camera haggling might be more effective, but you are writing for an audience that has just rejected that sort of thing at the municipal level. The Liberals submit their Manufacturing fund. The NDP could add a Jobs Commisioner to turn on the bat signal every time there is a layoff. It would be interesting to see what concrete proposals everybody would make.
3 - I remember being bored silly by the King-Byng affair in my High School history course years ago. We finally have an opportunity to look back at that in a new, interesting context and nobody in the media seems to be doing it. I looked at the Wikipedia entry and it seems to be fairly accurate but a bit on the short side. It looks like the Conservatives are taking the position that Liberals took back in 1925, and look what happened after that. There is a fair amount of comment floating around on the Ontario Provincial experience of a few years ago, but none on this. Possible material for a column, Bill?

Anonymous said...

Bill, the Conservatives were given the opportunty to govern with 39% of the popular vote. They were not given a blank cheque to do what they want, when they want. If they fall, and the parties represented by 61% of the population try and govern then what is so undemocratic about that?

Yes, the Liberals do have a horrible track record, but Dion is not Chretien/Martin. They will also have the NDP to keep them in check.

I'm suprised and very disappointed at what appears to be your defense of the results of this first past the post system.

Bill Tieleman said...

To Anonymous 11:34 a.m. - I agree the Conservatives were not given a blank cheque - perhaps that's why in the face of strong opposition to removing public funding of political parties they withdrew that legislation.

[By the way, Manitoba NDP Premier Gary Doer is planning on eliminated public funding in that province, with Conservative Party support.]

Second, none of the opposition political parties even whispered during the recent election that they might combine forces to creat a new government led by a party that got far less support than the Conservatives.

And certainly the Liberals and NDP didn't say - "We would be happy to work with the separatists to form a government" - and you know why not - because they would have ensured a Conservative majority instantly.

Fourth, Stephane Dion sat in the Chretien/Martin cabinets - give your head a shake. His top strategist was Mark Marissen, Paul Martin's right hand man in BC.

Fifth, Dion is out, finished, kaput, and rightly so - his leadership was decisively rejected by Canadians.

If you say the Conservatives with 38% support have no right to govern, how do you explain why a Liberal party with 26% should pick the prime ministers, backed by two other different parties who got 18% - NDP and 10% - Bloc Quebecois?

You also seem to believe that the three opposition parties have some common platform - like what?

The Liberals fully supported the Conservatives' $50 billion corporate tax cuts! They helped defeat anti-scab legislation!

And the Bloc - will the new coalition have a united front on Quebec separatism? Not possible.

Lastly, I don't see this as in any way an issue of the electoral system. But I do support First Past The Post, as most people know. This current fiasco might be more commonplace under proportional representation electoral systems, as we can see around the world, but in those countries discussion of possible coalitions - and even formation of electoral coalitions - take place before the people vote, not well after.

Anonymous said...

(sorry for my English)

Finally an analysis that makes sense! We don't read this in Ottawa very often, if at all.

My biggest worry is that there is no guarantee a coalition would be able to make any kind of decision in time to be efficient against a recession. With no elected leader with experience for the Liberals (well, Rae has experience, but he certainely does not want to talk about that!) and Layton very close to unions, and the Bloc, who will be able to make the tough decisions? I don't like Harper (not at all) but tell me what the others are proposing? Do they have a plan? How will they come up with a plan? And I am sorry to write this, but seeing Chretien in the picture does not reassure me one bit...not after all the scandals and the way they handle money!

To be honest, I am scared right now, whatever happens.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. the thot plickens..

CTV reporting Layton and Duceppe were plotting to overthrow Harper well BEFORE the economic statement came out.

Libs would be smart now to distance themselves from this evil alliance.. and let the Cons live to produce an early budget.

And then, if they don't like it.. they can try to bring the govt down to force an election.

But me thinks it would be foolish to pursue a coalition, based on the knowledge that the NDP and seperatists were plotting a bloodless coup.

Way to go Jack.. your days are numbered.

David - Calgary

Anonymous said...

"And certainly the Liberals and NDP didn't say - "We would be happy to work with the separatists to form a government" - and you know why not - because they would have ensured a Conservative majority instantly."

Actually Layton did say that. He said he "would work with anyone". The Liberals and Bloc count as "anyone".

All of us that voted NDP knew Jack wouldn't be the PM but we also knew that he'd work as part of a minority if given the chance.


G West said...

With respect, I'd have agreed with you completely as little as two or three months ago - but not now.

We are in the first days of a political and economic earthquake; you don't get to choose when you live and now is when these decisions need to be made.

1) There is absolutely nothing wrong with 'coalition' government and it works perfectly well in a parliamentary system. There are dozens of examples as you well know.

2) There is no doubt that the 'terms' of the coalition are going to be tricky and there's some doubt that a workable arrangement can be crafted - by the way, nothing I've read suggests that the Bloc would be a part of the coalition so I think that's a red herring - certainly their support is needed. I expect the terms of that continued support would be a part of an ad hoc arrangement as well - were talking about politics here and Harper and Mulroney have a long record of catering to separatists that was, I'd wager, a lot more problematic than anything connected with the current Bloc.

If the polls are right, the PQ is going to be relegated even further into opposition on December 8. I kind of liked Gilles Duceppe in the Debates last October and I wouldn't mind having him for dinner a few evenings a month either. I think he has some clear ideas about buying and promoting 'Canada' that I'd be willing to try.

3) Dion - he won't be the leader. I think you can pretty much bank on that one so I won't address it.

4) Income Trusts is a problem - but in the current economic climate I think we can rule out that as a deal breaker.

5) I'm sick of first past the post and the way we've always done things - I'm tired of waiting - we have a crisis now and in a few months it's going to be a lot worse.

6) Now is the time for change - ride the whirlwind and trust the people you voted for - if they didn't have the beans to earn your vote, you should have supported Harper - why defend him now when he's clearly shown he's incapable of being conciliatory unless there's a gun to his head.

To not quite coin a phrase - It's time for Change. Hopefully the deal will also specify the need for real electoral reform and financing.

Bernard said...

The NDP needs to kill off the Liberal party so that it will become the main opposition. As long as the party keeps giving signals that there is a pro-capitalist party that is better than the other one, the NDP will keep suffering nationally.

All I can think of is Tommy Douglas's story about the mice being governed by Cats and how at the end of the day a cat is a cat and not a friend to the mice.

Anonymous said...

David, you may want to look at the results of the last election. The NDP and Bloc together can't form a gov't, they don't have enough seats.

As for talking, I think that's great, they should be.

Too bad the Conservatives are never interested in talking to other parties, they wouldn't get in so much trouble if they did.


Alan said...

GRN 940,747
NDP 2,517,075
LIB 3,629,990

CON 5,205,334

Tell me again what the democratic will of the people is?

Anonymous said...

G West,isn't there some thing for you to do over at the Tyee, pick up the litter, take out the trash.

Anonymous said...

Bill I think we should have a coalition gov in waiting to stop Harper from selling Canada down the tube.A coalition gov would have some issues that are important to Canadians and in the event Harper ignored them he could end up with a problem. At present he can govern as a majority We don't need another Campbell federally.

Anonymous said...

NDP considers legal action after Tories listen in and tape private meeting
at 17:39 on November 30, 2008, EDT.
11/30/2008 12:00:00 AM
OTTAWA - The NDP says it may pursue criminal charges after the Conservatives covertly listened in, taped and distributed audio of a closed-door NDP strategy session.

NDP Leader Jack Layton can be heard on the tapes boasting to his caucus that he had prepared scenarios to bring down the government with the help of the Bloc Quebecois before the Conservatives issued their recent economic statement.

The caucus talks took place Saturday and a recording of the meeting was delivered to the media on Sunday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staff.

In response, NDP MP Thomas Mulcair said the government is panicking and desperate to change the channel on its economic management and may have committed what could be an illegal act.

Mulcair said his party is looking into "the application of the Criminal Code," in the taping.

As for the substance of the call, Mulcair said the talks with the Bloc were perfectly normal consultations between parties in a minority government. They began only after the government's economic update was delivered last Thursday, he said.

And Mulcair pointed as an example to consultations that took place between Layton, Harper and the Bloc's Gilles Duceppe in September 2004 when the Liberals were freshly installed as a minority government.

Harper, who was leader of the Opposition at that time, held lengthy discussions with Layton and Duceppe aimed at supplanting Paul Martin's Liberal government without an election in the fall of 2004.

Those talks did not invoke a coalition, but rather revolved around replacing the elected Liberal minority with a Conservative government led by Harper and supported by the New Democrats and Bloc on an issue-by-issue basis.

During Saturday's conference call, Layton also is heard saying it doesn't matter what the policy issues are, they just need to defeat the Harper minority. He says he hopes a lasting coalition can be built that will survive two or three years in government.

NDP spokesman Brad Lavigne said the Conservatives are merely trying to deflect attention from the government losing the confidence of the House of Commons.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said there was nothing unethical about covertly listening in to the private NDP deliberations, taping those discussions and releasing them to the media.

An unidentified Tory was "invited" to participate in the call, said PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas.

"Maybe the invitation was meant for the Bloc, and they accidentally invited us. We were invited. When you get invited somewhere you have the opportunity to choose to participate or not participate."
WE live in interesting times. heck our daughter just wrote a 4th year History article today on the last coalition government way back when. she compares the presnt situation.

Anonymous said...

BT wrote: "The outrageously self-serving attempt to financially destroy all the other political parties by removing standing public funding..."

The Harperites are claiming they want to show Canadians their fiscal leadership by taking away the public funding dollars and are shocked - SHOCKED they say - that the other parties will not support the conservative's bill.

True leadership now REQUIRES that the Harper conservatives return every last penny that they received in public funding.

Perhaps some intrepid journalist can ask a conservative apparatchik when we can expect that cheque to be written?

G West said...

I'll let you take care of that elliot - you're better qualified

Anonymous said...

Bill, I am with you on this.

What a crazy ass thing to attempt. Especially at this fragile time in the global and our own economic history. Yes, please, let's ensure that the world, who have marvelled thus far at our banking system and rules and regs (yes, I can't believe I would ever say it, but there you go) will now consider us bonkers---let's really watch our economy take a hit, because everyone just loves instability.

And please someone---show me a lasting, successful coalition. The Italians?? The Israelis?? Oh my god, we are hell bent on our own destruction in this country aren't we?

For those showing "popular vote" numbers, just drop it, please. Those people are still voting for their own parties. Just because they have an aggregrate total that exceeds the Tory one doesn't mean they will be on board with each other---or all the people who accepted the will of the people to experience another (though larger) minority government.

The thought of Jack Layton, and Stephane Dion taking marching orders ers from the Bloc blows my mind. The phrase "there's no whores like old whores" comes to mind. If you truly want to drive a stake into the heart of this country, and force some Western allienation out into the open, go ahead with this stupd and ill conceived plan. But please don't insult our intelligence about it being because the Tories do not have an economic stimulus plan (a la the $700 billion bribes paid to the American Congress to grease their constituencies) or because our MP's don't wanna fly economy!

Bloody hell--and that's what it will be if this thing happens.

Bill Tieleman said...

Here is the latest development - CBC News reporting a deal has been reached between the NDP and Liberals:

"NDP, Liberals reach deal to topple minority Tory government

Last Updated: Sunday, November 30, 2008 | 9:51 PM ET

CBC News

The NDP and Liberals have reached a deal to topple the minority Conservative government and take power themselves in a coalition, CBC News has learned.

A deal has been negotiated between NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion that would see them form a coalition government for two and a half years, the CBC's Keith Boag reported, citing sources.

The NDP would be invited into cabinet and get 25 per cent of seats, Boag said, adding that the party wouldn't get the position of the finance chair or the deputy prime minister's post.

"That's the big step forward tonight," Boag reported.

The Bloc Québécois wouldn't be a part of the coalition, but would have to support it, he said.

"The most difficult question is who'll be the leader," Boag said, adding that Dion, who negotiated the deal, believes he has the right to be prime minister."

Anonymous said...

Experts Say Coalition Unlikely to Work

I am laughing hysterically as I listen to Hedy Fry talk on 'NW 8pm news about how the three parties can put aside their differences...

Anonymous said...

Well if a coalition is formed and accepted by Her Majesty's rep.. and if there really is an agreement to have an election in 2 1/2 years.. then at least the opposition parties will be honouring the spirit of Harper's fixed election date legislation, even though he chose to ignore it.

Anonymous said...

Boyce Richardson said it best:
"To me, the present Canadian practice, which is that the Opposition always accepts the right of a party that has won the most seats to form the government, even if it is in a minority position, is basically undemocratic. It may be democratic enough to allow them to try to govern, but to accept that they have a right to do so, having formed a government, is not at all democratic. For example, the present government was supported by a minority of the people who actually voted (which is to say it was opposed by a majority of the voters), and by an even smaller minority of the actual eligible voters. If we had proportional representation, the raveling up of coalition governments would have become routine for us, and would have enfranchised that majority of electors whose votes are now discounted in the forming of governments. (Recall my old story about the Swedish Prime Minister, reporting to the British Labour Party in 1964 when they won a majority of four in a House of Commons of more than 600, congratulating them on “your immense majority” because, he said, although he had been Prime Minister for many years, he had never once won a majority)."
'Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that as soon as something happens, or will happen, in Ottawa the old"the west will seperate" story breaks out.I must have heard it a dozen times or more today. No matter what goes on in Ottawa the west isn't going anywhere, just as Quebec isn't going anywhere. The represenation of the westerd provices is lower than a lot of us wants it to be, but the eastern provinces were guaranteed a number of things when Ontario and Quebec was looking for extra provinces. as Bill mentioned just above, a deal has been set between the NDP and Liberals. Now they will have to seel it first to the GG and then the rest of th country. This whole mess wouldn't be happening if Harper got busy trying to run the country rather than crush the opposiiton parties.Who was the guy that fiddled while Rome burned> I think it was Nero, our new nero is called SteveBoy

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me why Canada is the only country where taxpayers fund the political parties. Most of you commenting on this blog have not stated your reasons for your belief that Dion, or the American or Rae can or will do a better job keeping Canada stable in these troubled times. I simply do not believe this socalled coalition can operate without Duceppe holding us for ransome, and believe me, we will pay for his demands - Jo5ey

Anonymous said...

Bill, you said, "It's time for all parties to stop playing games and start saving jobs and investment - get on with it!"

This proposed coalition is all about that. As someone whose rights were attacked times two in the brief outline of Flaherty's economic statement, I am convinced that we must take unusual steps to stop the Harpercons. I don't see any suggestions from you as to what you would prefer -- that the opposition parties should just suck it up and support a government like this?

Your thread title is erroneous, too. A "Mexican standoff" (and I can't help but wonder about the possibility of racism in that old expression) is a dead-lock, is it not? I would not describe this as a dead-locked situation. It is an imaginative situation, fraught with all sort of dangers, but as a working class woman, I'm glad that there are those drawing a line in the sand.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree a coalition will not work, the liberal party will try anything to get power and this is the only reason. This is completely self promoting with the liberal party and to see Cretian invloved what a joke. Can't wait to see their idea to stimulate the economy, they could channel funds through a lot ad agencies who have seen their funding I mean government work dry up, what a suprise the liberal parties funding seemed to dry up at the same time. This liberal party, the leader and leadership hopefuls can't balance their own books from the last leadership convention or election. Let's see them fix their own financial problems first.

I liked our governments statement, they are not throwing money around as everyone knows this does not fix anything. We have a strong banking system, money is tight but but our banks are solid.

I have never agreed with and would like see this funding of political parties stopped, we are paying a party who's agenda is to seperate from Canada, we are paying funds out to parties who have no elected MP's. Yes it's only $30 million but it's $30 million that could be a lot better spent else where.

Let's watch tomorrow as the news of a coalition deal hits the news world wide, what will the market do, what will our dollar do?

Anonymous said...

Relax my darlings...relax...

I need not weigh in on how correct Tieleman is, it's obvious...

You all think that Mark Marissen will be convincing enough to have Rae and Iggy stalwarts step up to form a govt and erect a Dion Pm prior to a leadership convention--because that's what this is all boiling down to...

Relax my darlings...Harper's idiocy on the timing of eliminating campaign welfare notwithstanding, if Iggy or Rae agree to this deal, the Grits and the NDP will pay so severely at the polls, you haven't the foggiest...but you will.

Just watch...

G West said...

Anon - 10:05 pm.

You need to do a little (lot) more research.

Start with the Winter 1999 number of the Canadian Parliamentary Review.

Anonymous said...

Normally, Bill, I find myself in agreement with you but not on this issue. The real question here is not what is best for the various partisans, but what is best for the country.

We simply cannot afford to continue with this arrogance and right wing agenda in increasingly uncertain economic times. We can't afford the Harper brinkmanship and lack of understanding and empathy for working people. We can't afford a group of ideologues continuing to act as if they have a mandate.

The coalition with Bloc support may not be perfect, but the alternative is disaster.

morven said...

My intuition is that any coalition will soon fracture into one wing of the Liberal Party that merges with the NDP and another wing that merges with the PC.

Citizens do not really political chicanery from any wing.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful week to be a Canadian.

Has anyone done a cost analysis of the taxpayer funding for political parties, versus the cost of the new record-setting 38-member Harper cabinet.

Talk about a tax grab for partisan purposes.

Anonymous said...

Hi to Bill and all of your readers. I'm usually a silent observer and reader, but this attempt at a governing coalition by the federal NDP and Liberal parties has provoked me to write a letter to my MP and the leaders of both parties. The Conservatives removed the most contentious item from the budget, and the Grits and NDP are still wasting time and money playing political games. The Canadian populace voted this particular mix of parties into power, and their job now is to govern the country through a very difficult economic period. Instead, more time is being wasted on political power games. Bill, your last comment, about the NDP and Liberals being punished for this in the next federal election, is dead-on. I've always voted somewhere between left and centre, but this knee-jerk reaction by the two biggest federal parties representing that segment of the political spectrum in western Canada is going to force me to take a long look at the alternatives, because I don't see the Libs/NDP doing anything that gives me confidence in their ability to govern this country any better than the Conservatives.

A couple of other comments about the's their fault that the Martin Liberal government fell a number of years ago, paving the way for a Conservative government. Where is their long-term thinking or strategy? It seems that similar thought patterns are at work in the talks with the Bloc Québecois.

This whole thing seems like nothing more than political opportunism. How, exactly, will all of this help Canadian citizens?

Anonymous said...

My respect for Bill has grown exponentially. I always though he was a NDP hack at all costs, but apparently I was wrong.

The NDP and Liberals can only hide in the backrooms for so long. They will pay dearly in the next election and hand the Cons what they could never get on their own, a majority. Thanks.

Eric said...

Your analysis is bang on the money Bill in my humble opinion. I look forward to reading more by you.

zachary said...

Harper's Way Out...Compromise!

Stephen Harper should propose to sign an agreement to not label any bill as a non-confidence motion for two years,the same as the opposition partners will do in their pact, and thereby give up the bullying tactic that was the most unacceptable feature of his regime. Bills would then be introduced, sent to committee, amended, and brought to the floor for a vote, passing or being defeated by a true majority vote. Defacto proportional representation.
Don't get me wrong, i'm for pulling the plug. As a lifelong Democrat i'm always voting for the type of Lib/Dem coalition that gave us our greatest social programs such as Healthcare.
I'm just saying there is an alternative, and that is Stephen Harper can begin to play well with others.

zachary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Mike B, the NDP was responsible for Paul Martin no longer being PM? That would be great if it was true but unfortunately the NDP never had enough seats to even make that decision. That's right, even if every NDP MP had stood by Martin as he reneged on his deal with the NDP, he still wouldn't have had enough votes to fend off the "coalition" of the Cons and Bloc who wanted to dump him over a little thing called the Sponsorship Scandal.


Anonymous said...

Alex, Oh right, I'm sure even as we speak mobs of angry NDPers are tearing up their lawn signs and calling Tory HQ to say they now support Harper.

Keep dreaming.


Chris said...

I think a NDP-Liberal coalition would greatly benefit the country. It may do both parties lasting damage, but nothing compared to the damage Harper will wreck while in power.

Anonymous said...

It matters not which party has the most seats, (and it is necessary to note that we Cdns do not elect a PM,) the parties in the House do. In a parliamentary system, the party which can win the acceptance of a budget, whether one, two or three parties in any kind of collusion will earn the support of the Parliament. If Harper cannot, then it is obligatory by tradition that the other members in the House be asked if they can. What is so drastic here? Seems to me it is in the best sense democracy at work once again. I would argue that the best government we had was minority with NDP & Liberals under Pearson.

And best of all, in 2004 Harper joined and actually signed his name to a letter with Layton and Duceppe to the GG to form a minority coalition.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank,

Are you sure about that? From Canada's Parliamentary website, I count 99 Conservatives, 136 Liberals, 54 Bloc Québecois, 19 NDP, and 1 independent in that particular parliament. With those numbers, NDP plus Libs should have been enough to outvote all the others. Perhaps I've missed some floor crossings or something.

Anyways, I do know of the reasons for the fall of that government, but my intent in bringing up that example wasn't to spark a discussion about that. My intent was to question whether or not federal NDP strategy is sometimes based on obtaining short-term gains at the expense of long-term goals. Does a deal struck with the Bloc Québecois hurt their long term prospects for seats in the House of Commons? What will voters do during the next federal election if the coalition comes into play?

Anonymous said...

Layton has caused himself irreparable damage with his hopping in the sack with the Bloc. I can only hope, this irresponsibility doesn't pull down the party with him.

The above Paragraph I stated here yesterday, today I heard my echo, by a strategist in Ottawa. Simply stated, he said, in the upcoming BC election in May , Carol James may pay the price for this alignment by the federal NDP with the separatist Bloc. Personally,now, Jack, if you were on fire,I wouldn't piss on the best part of you. This coalition with the Bloc was a selfish, stupid, ill thought out move. I most certainly had a great desire to see Carol beat out Gordon next May. Now,I fear the strategist could be correct.

Anonymous said...


This post is absolutely nuts. Usually I think you're somewhat reasonable, but you've completely lost your marbles with this post. First of all, what are the alternatives?

1) Leave the Harper "government" in place. Why? It has proven that it's not serious about respecting the will of Canadians, who didn't elect a Conservative government, or a Liberal official opposition, or 49 Bloqueists or 37 New Democrats and 2 Independents. We elected a minority parliament where no one party has a majority, as such the only undisputed message one can derive from the election was that we said the parties need to work together. If the incumbent government cannot work with others, then they ought to be replaced.

Essentially what this means is that your points about how the NDP should not be working with the Bloc, or the Liberals are highly erroneous.

We can't constantly have elections if our parliamentarians won't work together, and no one party can gain a majority. That would leave a massive leadership vacuum, along the lines of the Harper government has done to us.

Furthermore, I'd just like to point out a little civics lesson that you seem to have forgotten: we do not elect governments. We elect parliaments. Governments are elected by parliaments. Governments must have the confidence of the parliament. If the government does not have the confidence of the parliament, the Governor General can either see if there is an alternative government in waiting (which there is) or if there isn't, then call another election.

Frankly, consistently bringing up the separatists is an annoying red herring. Separatism is at a historic low, so the Bloc will not have the ability to bully the coalition into bending to its will. All three parties will work together, yes. But this will be on matters of common agreement, or where common agreement can be arranged. I mean, jeez. You're an informed person, as you well know there's a Quebec election going on right now. The Parti Quebecois has said that if they win, they won't be holding another referendum. Furthermore, the federalist Quebec Liberals seem to be cruising to a majority government. What you're doing by raising the spectre of the Bloc is trying to scare people. It's shameful, along the lines of what the Harper "government" is doing.

Anonymous said...

Mike B, yes, it was a case of a couple of "floor crossings" or whatever. David Kilgour for one and another Liberal whose name I forget both voted against the Martin gov't which is why Martin reneged on his deal with the NDP, he knew they couldn't save him anyway.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bill; As I have posted on your website a day ago: I am thrilled that we will be represented by a coalition government more PROPORTIONATELY to the voters choices than by a conservative minority government.
And as to the 3 wisemen from the EAST(Quebec that is!)Dion and Layton bring integrity to the union and I like Mr. Duceppe very much as he spoke sincerely and intelligently(without copious notes) during the debates. He represents his constituents admirably well. In fact I admire the efforts of many Bloq MPs who work for the betterment of all canadians; in the last house sitting in particular. I corresponded with MP Gilles A. Perron (yes and I used my high school French but he responded to me in English) for BQ and I praised his efforts(Riviere-des-Milles-Iles)as he tries to guide his private member bill C-517 which called for mandatory labelling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.Unfortunately it didn't pass in the days of deregulation of food and money, eh!
As well, why would I expect the conservatives to support a made in Canada regulation of food safety, much like the Europeans already have; when the conservatives have done their hardy best to break the back of the Canadian Wheat Board.

As much as I consider you a hero for your tireless investigative journalism on the Basi-Virk BC government trial; I must believe that the Coalition lead by an honourable man like Mr. Dion, is only going to serve the canadian public better than Mr. Harper.

Seeing the amazing preparedness and wider collaboration that the American president-elect team is organizing; makes canadians envious of such leadership.

Anonymous said...

I felt the energy that Friday night as the forums were filled with many a fear full Canadian of what the future has in store for them. And you want to hear the funniest thing of all Bill you know what they are fearing Change? The very thing that has been on the lips of many. Its the world taking on a new market place and we are feeling the pangs but the market will work itself out and regulations will be put into place to ensure the world wide market stays on its axis. I truly feel for the auto industry and other manufactures related to industry and all those unions as their big old trucks and cars take a backseat to Honda and alike as their niche market was a big black carbon foot print. The Conservatives announced it would leave campaign funding intact and the next announcement was a bailout for auto industry both designed to keep Coalition happy. I understand the urgency but is there sustainability? BC's lumber industry has a future as its a product that will always have a place in the market and needs assistance from Government. What did Wimpey say? If you give me a hamburger today I will gladly pay you on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver is now finally free of an NPA mayor and Council because COPE and Vision ran a joint slate - a tactic you strongly supported.

How can you now be opposed to the Liberals and the NDP working together to remove the worst Prime Minister Canada has ever had?