Friday, April 13, 2007

Shades of a sealed train

I have nothing really substantive to add to the news that the Liberal Party is going to abandon Central Nova to the Greens that hasn't already been said by either the Jurist or Idealistic Pragmatist.

What I will say is that the Liberals need to officially shut the hell up about vote-splitting from this point on. Here you've got a party that screamed bloody murder at the idea that anyone would dare consider voting for the NDP just over a year ago because the threat of a divided progressive vote was so dire. Now, the same party is going to fracture the progressive vote even further by pushing the Green Party further towards the limelight -- and don't even pretend that's not exactly what's going to happen here.* Surely, if Harper winning a minority government because of an NDP vote was worth all that sound and fury, the possibility of Harper winning a majority because of the Green Party is worth even more, right? Right? Anyone?

I argued strongly against the Liberal scare-tactics a year ago (and before and after) and I'll continue to do so, because if you want to vote Green I say go for it -- I won't join you, but knock yourselves out. But let's stop pretending that this was about anything more than keeping Paul Martin and his sad excuse for a government in power.

And as for the sealed train reference, I would just suggest to the Liberal Party of Canada that the danger in encouraging political rivals is that sometimes they succeed beyond your expectations.

*There's evidence that the Greens take votes equally from all parties once they rise above a certain threshold, a sign to me that the public basically doesn't know squat about the Green Party or their proposals. (Shades of the ADQ during the early years of this decade.) But the net effect -- with a divided left in Canada -- is to hurt the Liberals and the NDP to the benefit of the Tories.

POSTSCRIPT: I should say that, as bizarre as this whole thing is, Peter MacKay is one of the stupidest MPs in Ottawa at the moment, so if this actually defeats him I'm willing to give a big yay to it. The Foreign Minister is a pathetic man-child who seriously needs to have his ass kicked.


Gar Lipow said...

A thought. The NDP and Greens strike me as closer to one another than to the Liberals. (This is from across the border, so perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe you could do a post on what the hell the Greens stand for, and where they differ from the NDP.)

Why can't the Greens and NDP work out a deal? No seat ends up with both a Green and NDP candidate. The Greens get more seat unopposed by the NDP than their poll numbers would strictly justify, In return, the NDP and Greens support each other in all seats. They have an agreement that they will negotiate with one voice with the Liberals to form a coalition government, and that the bottom line demand they won't back down from in such negotiations is PR. If the Greens and the NDP each want to add one other demand, fine.

john said...

The short answer is that you're neither the first person to ask the question nor propose that solution, though it's usually only been the NDP and Liberals who mattered.

There's no particular reason why they couldn't do exactly what you propose, except that the NDP isn't in the mood to give legitimacy to a smaller party, anymore than the Liberals are in the mood to do the same with the NDP.

As for the alleged closeness, some on both sides would take issue with that. There's some similarity, but the NDP has substantial structural ties with the labour movement in Canada that the Greens lack.

Gar said...

So structurally the NDP and Greens are very different. How about programatically?

Also, it seems to me that PR is an overwhelmingly important structural issue to both the Greens and the NDP, and one that the Liberals would tend to resist - so maybe a basis for a coalition.

Again, no pretenses at expertise. This is meant more as questions to an expert than assertions.

john said...

I actually haven't read the Green platform, but they've made a big deal of being "socially-progressive-fiscally-conservative" and generally favour a more minimalist state than I'm comfortable with, based on my limited reading.

The other problem here is that their combined vote count - NDP + Greens = 20-25% of the electorate, so even if they united there's still no chance of success, really. Actually, looking at it that way the chance for a Green-NDP merger makes more sense after the Greens start to do better. Assuming, of course, that Green success doesn't obliterate the NDP, which is what some are hoping for in this country.