Gerald Caplan goes far beyond what's necessary in proposing that the NDP and Libs develop a pre-election cooperation pact intended to lead to a party merger. But as highlighted by the conversation started by Fern Hill's Tweet, we can take his suggestion as a starting point in discussing what we expect from Canada's opposition parties.
Each opposition party has ample reason to include the glaring need for change from a corrupt and ineffective Con government as part of their core message. So far, only the NDP is willing to even discuss post-election cooperation to ensure a change in government, while the Libs have stuck to the line that they're only interested in power for themselves. (Of course, that was way back when Justin Trudeau was still talking about acting on climate change, so who knows how the position has changed?)
We do know from both 2008 and 2011 that the Libs' public facade doesn't necessarily match their willingness to pursue a coalition. But if we want to reinforce the message that removing Stephen Harper from power is the top priority, we can't afford to have any leaders leaving open the possibility that he'll be left in power when our elected representatives have enough strength in numbers to ensure a change in government.
So I'll suggest that anybody with the opportunity to ask questions or otherwise interact with opposition candidates and leaders focus attention on this issue: are you willing to work with other parties if necessary to remove the Cons from power? And if not, under what conditions would you leave Harper in power in a minority Parliament?
My guess is that if members raise enough hue and cry, every party will eventually acknowledge that opposition cooperation is a valid and reasonable means of bringing about change - and that it's a lot easier to justify cooperating to change governments than to explain what conditions would make it worth leaving the Cons in power. But unless supporters make clear that there's a price to be paid for pretending otherwise, we'll go through another campaign with opposition parties and candidates undermining the theme that Harper has to go.