Tuesday, February 20, 2007

No Megaparty, cont.

There's been much discussion about Jamey Heath's latest book (Dead Centre) about the possibility of creating a single progressive party from the NDP and the Liberals. I've said before, I don't think it'll ever happen unless Stephen Harper enters a second majority government. Aside from the logistical and logical problems, the personal animus between both parties simply runs too deep.

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.

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.
I should say, Conservatives will always be scary to progressives. But the point stands.

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.


Anonymous said...

The LPC absorbing the Ndp & the Green Party is inevitable,as well as the only logical course of action.Aside from the Tommy Douglas mythology by the Ndp,the only real progressive leadership and vision this country has seen has been by the LPC.Both labour and enviromentalists have abandoned the Ndp "a party of slogans and pamphleteers."The dippers are very similar to the bloc in the sense that they occupy space ,time ,and resources but have zero chance of ever forming a government.Even Lizzy May sees the writing on the wall and says she can work with the LPC.

Politicagrll said...

Personally if i had to choose another party i would choose the Bloq---except i don't live in Quebec.

People need to consider that there will be a reaction from the left if this type of merger occurs. I know I would leave the NDP if the parties merged.

On the other hand parties having coalitions in government can work.

The real problem is our electoral system that can produce a majority government with as little as 36% of the vote. Since when should 36% of voters decide what a country's politics would be like for up to five years.

MMP isn't my favourite form of PR...but then it isn't the worst either (i would give that to single transferable vote). Germany is a good example of MMP works, for those interested

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


What is your favourite form of PR, if you don't like MMP or STV? Are you the first Canadian pure-party-list enthusiast I've encountered, then?