Some time ago, I put together this list of principles worth considering when talking about structured cooperation between political parties. And consistent with Ian Gill's own warning about his lack of connection to party structures, his proposal for a secret pre-election pact manages to fail on nearly every front.
But while there's some reason for question about Gill's intended direction, the bigger issue is his presumption that we need our political parties to drag us there. So let's clarify the options available to Canadians who want to further an "ABC" agenda in the lead up to this fall's election.
While our votes are necessarily limited to choosing from among the options available to us in our home riding, every other form of political involvement can be done wherever and for whichever party an individual sees fit.
Is your priority to donate to and volunteer for the candidate with the strongest perceived likelihood of defeating a Con in your home riding? You're welcome to do so and organize others to join you. And you can be pretty well assured that whichever candidate you ask to support won't turn you away.
Are you enough of a party loyalist to want to make sure your efforts elect a candidate of your partisan stripe? You can choose which candidate and riding you help out with - whether local or not.
Or are you enough of an anti-Harper activist that you don't care who you're helping or where, so long as you maximize your marginal contribution to defeating Con MPs? Again, you don't need a party operative's approval (or worse yet, a backroom deal) to determine where your efforts are best applied.
And with all of those options available to every Canadian, there's absolutely no need for parties to strike hidden deals, declare candidates to be sacrificial lambs, or alienate core supporters by telling them they're supposed to direct their efforts toward electing adverse parties.
If enough people share the viewpoint that defeating as many Cons as possible is the top priority, they have the capacity to seek out what appear to be the most important ridings and systematically tilt the balance in favour of opposition parties. (And while the same option may not be available for actual voting purposes, a strategy based on working to persuade people now will have far more impact than yet another hastily-assembled vote-swapping scheme.)
So the message shouldn't be to hold your nose and do as you're told based on a backroom deal to divide up volunteer efforts. Instead, everybody has the opportunity to influence the election in a way that allows them to hold their head up high. And we should be encouraging progressives to get in the habit of doing just that.