But there's another problem I haven't mentioned (I think) before, but I tried to get at it here many months ago:
We could try and draw a line in the sand against Harper, but for what? A misguided and mistaken belief that we can stamp out homophobia, racism, or misogyny in the Conservative mind? I've had enough crusades this decade, thank you.I should say, Conservatives will always be scary to progressives. But the point stands.
But for Laxer - and too many leftists, it seems - it was a great betrayal for the NDP to run against the Liberals in the last election. Harper is a scary conservative, I admit. But... the Conservatives will always be scary.
Something more than 30% of this country votes conservative, and on occasion much more. But the motivating idea behind a single progressive party seems to be to prevent Conservative voters from ever forming a government, ever again. Or at least, not until we've decided they're responsible enough to handle the reins again.
The problem, in case it isn't obvious, is that Canada isn't a left-wing country. Canada has a strong and legitimate conservative streak, and I'm not wild about any idea that has as it's goal the marginalization of 30%+ of the Canadian electorate. Pragamatically, we can see that Japan has had a single party in power for the last half-century, and it's produced paralysis, corruption, and a legendary amount of pork-barreling in government.
Now, if we want to form governments with the Liberals and the NDP, we don't require any kind of merger or even electoral reform (though that would help) -- we just need the two parties to sit down and agree to a coalition, as IP suggests. It's really not that hard, and it could happen tomorrow. But while the Liberals talk a good game about wanting to bring Harper down at the earliest opportunity, I haven't seen a single Grit put this on the table.
And, as the current rules to the game stand, there's no reason for the Liberals to do this -- the siren song of a majority government calls, and why make deals when you don't have to? If Canadians really want to bring about a centre-left realignment, the first step is to change the rules -- and Ontario's MMP announcement this morning is a great first step. Under PR, one would hope to see the Liberals and the NDP reach out to each other when the Conservatives are too scary, but the Liberals could also reach out to the Conservatives when they're led by more moderate factions.
Basic politics in a democracy: If you want to change the behaviour, don't change the actors -- change the rules.