Monday, January 31, 2011

On defined options

The inevitable effect of Stephen Harper's "majority or coalition" framing of Canadian voters' choices looks to be sinking in even among Con supporters. Here's Bob Plamondon:
Stephen Harper is warning us that, unless we elect a majority Conservative government at the next opportunity, a coalition of the other parties in the House of Commons will take over, virtually overnight. “They will deny it every day of the campaign,” the Prime Minister predicts. “The day after, they will do it.”

But by telling Canadians that a coalition represents a serious threat, he also gives it legitimacy. And because a coalition may be the only way he can be defeated, Mr. Harper should be careful about tempting his opponents.
(H)aving warned Canadians that he needs a majority to block a coalition, Mr. Harper would be in no position to cry foul if he ends up on the opposition benches, even if his party wins the most seats next time out.
Mind you, Plamondon seems a bit too eager to allow Harper to dictate how legitimate a coalition of other parties can be. And he leaves out the question of whether the idea of cooperation may itself be seen as a positive, particularly compared to the Cons' one-man rule.

But it's absolutely correct to note that Harper's message implicitly allows for the prospect of a coalition in the very near future. And any statements now which portray it as an inevitable outcome will be awfully tough to take back if Harper once again ends up having to fight to hold onto power in the face of a coalition alternative.

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