Sunday, June 06, 2010

Moving forward

I won't be quite as effusive as some about Michael Ignatieff's latest coalition comments. Granted, he's taking some important steps toward leaving the door open, and deserves credit for that. But he's still well short of the positive message that it'll take to turn the issue into a net plus for the Libs or any other opposition party. (For something closer to the right tone, see Paul Dewar from his Power & Politics appearance on Friday: "Countries around the world embrace coalitions. It's called working together for the greater good.")

That said, the most interesting response seems to be that coming from the Cons - who through MPs and media proxies are ratcheting up their level of smug self-satisfaction, based on the seemingly unfounded belief that Canadians agree with their internal view that "coalition" is and will remain a dirty word.

At best, one could argue that the strategy reflects a desperate attempt to get the Libs to repudiate any possible coalition again. And I suppose one can't rule out the prospect of Ignatieff getting spooked and capitulating once more.

But it looks more likely that the Cons' strategists are pouring all their energy into re-fighting the last battle, clinging to outdated talking points about the structure of the last coalition and failing to notice that unlike in 2008, the public has time to work through the weak points in their bluster. And the more effort they waste trying to frame the concept of parties working together as an evil to be avoided at all costs, the higher the price they'll pay if the opposition parties can offer a strong message in favour of cooperation.

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