Tuesday, August 11, 2015

On cooperative options

I've previously excoriated the Libs for the connection between their refusal to talk about cooperation with other parties and their complete lack of any idea what they supposedly stand for. And nothing in the campaign to date changes that analysis.

By the same token, I'll give credit where due to Elizabeth May for being up-front about her test for support for a new government. And it's particularly noteworthy that the conditions - most notably the repeal, rather than tweaking, of C-51 - are ones which the NDP will be far better positioned to meet than any other potential governing party.

That said, I'll also point out that in her effort to blur the lines between the opposition alternatives, May distinctly rewrites some history:
Trudeau has already said he won’t form a coalition government. But May said that’s just election politics, and that math at the end of election night may be more convincing to Trudeau and Mulcair.

“He doesn’t want to be a junior player to Mulcair in the midst of an election campaign. If the roles were reversed and Trudeau was ahead in the polls, Mulcair would be saying no coalition,” she said.
The apparent theory that the senior partner in a coalition would support the possibility and the junior one would oppose it is rather hard to square with the parties' positions in 2008 and (pre-Orange Wave) 2011 - and as May's wont, serves to give Trudeau an excuse that he's done nothing to deserve. 
In fact, the parties' track record is this. The NDP is open to cooperation to replace the Cons with a better government no matter what the party standings say, while the Libs have refused to acknowledge the possibility at every turn. And between that reality and the policy conflict which seems to have arisen between the Greens and the Libs, May's declaration only serves to confirm that Canadians wanting change should ensure that the NDP is in a position to deliver it - with Green support if necessary.


  1. I think you should be more clear. The Liberals have never said they oppose cooperation. They have said they oppose a coalition. So that is your first problem.

    Further, there are very good reasons to go along with cooperation rather than a coalition. For one thing it does not tie the LPC to policies they vehemently oppose, such as giving rich people money to help raise their children, or enter into constitutional negotiations to end the Senate. And that should work for Mulcair because he and Harper are ad idem on these two issues so he hardly needs Trudeau to do it.

    This is all a ploy by the NDP anyway. Their biggest weakness is the question in many people's minds about whether they can be trusted with the economy. That is not a question they have for the liberals (trusting the LPC in general, sure, but it is widely accepted the LPC have been good economic managers). So a coalition with the NDP give the NDP that credibility, but it takes away from the LPC on the same score.

    Finally, if the NDP were really putting defeating Harper at the top of their priorities, they would be promoting strategic voting and not a coalition. But they are not.


    1. When it comes to cooperation short of a coalition, the most the Libs will say is that they'll see what happens. Which makes it absolutely inexplicable that they're adamantly opposed to a coalition *regardless of what happens*.

      Meanwhile, the public trusts Mulcair more than Trudeau on the economy: http://www.cp24.com/news/new-poll-finds-equal-number-of-voters-trust-harper-mulcair-on-economy-1.2494130 So if that's your worry about being willing to cooperate with the NDP, have no fear.

      I've already responded to Jeff's post (in a link in the post above, but I'll repost it here: http://accidentaldeliberations.blogspot.ca/2015/08/on-end-goals.html ). Simply put, if the Libs have preconditions as to what they'd need in order to cooperate, the reasonable and transparent course of action would be to say what those are so voters can decide with full information. And in the absence of any reasonable explanation as to why the Libs are artificially narrowing the options or what they hope to accomplish, there's reason to worry they'll eventually side with Harper when it counts.

    2. I am sure it is not inexplicable to non NDPers.

      As for that poll, I am afraid I am not going to take one poll as something that is going to continue. Harper is hitting Mulcair on the economy so that suggests he believes that to be his weakness too, notwithstanding that one poll.

      In any event, let me be clear that as far as I am concerned there is no upside to the LPC to join a formal coalition with the NDP, and I think they would have much more influence on policy outside a coalition. I can see the upside for the NDP. For one thing they will have very little money left to launch a campaign after this election, and after watching the LPC cave to the CPC demands time and time again because they could not afford to trigger an election, I know what is in store for the NDP if they hold the balance of power.

      As for your last point, it does not actually address mine. If Mulcair is making getting rid of Harper a priority, why is he targeting LPC votes in a riding where only the LPC can beat Harper? If he splits the vote he gives the seat to Harper. How is that in Canada's best interest? Why not propose strategic voting instead?

    3. There's a huge difference between pre-electoral and post-electoral cooperation. The former takes options off the table for voters while seldom serving its purpose since there's an awful lot of risk in trying to guess who actually has the best chance to win a particular seat. But once voters have cast their ballots based on the full range of options, the latter allows a Parliament to better reflect the will of voters while ensuring that parties are able to work on mutually agreeable priorities.