But there’s no reason the Liberal party can’t compete in large- and mid-sized cities in the four western provinces. The same types of people who vote Liberal elsewhere – older women, immigrants, well-educated Canadians – all live there.I respect anyone who's willing to grapple with the fact that, yes, the Liberals are substantively unpopular in many parts of the country and this is not solely due to NDP intransigence.
And if you think westerners are just more conservative in nature, try telling that to the recent NDP governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and B.C. Hell, Edmonton is nicknamed “Redmonton” by Albertans.
That said, Arnold makes a little crack at the merger hubbub at his blog:
I foolishly overlooked the idea of blowing up the party as a solution, suggesting instead that the Liberals need to expand their support base outside of the GTA.I noticed this only because there's yet another poll out about an NDP/Liberal merger, coalition, or cooperation of some kind. Harris-Decima has a poll (PDF) showing that:
- 14% of Canadians support a post-election coalition between the parties
- 13% support a merger before the next election, and
- 28% support an electoral non-compete agreement.
More intriguingly, throughout the west there seems to be a correlation between support for merger and support for an electoral pact: in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the numbers are pretty close with the caveat that Alberta's higher Conservative numbers bring the "no cooperation at all" numbers higher than elsewhere. British Columbia looks a lot closer to Ontario, perhaps because the two provinces aren't quite the electoral wasteland for the Liberals as the stretch between Thunder Bay and the Rockies.
Arnold may have only been making a joke, but I'd bet he's actually very correct: the stark choice is either rebuild Liberal numbers in AB/SK/MB or see some kind of merging of the parties.