Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Warren pushes the conversation about a cooperative effort to topple the Cons toward what looks to me to be more fertile territory, suggesting a policy accord as an alternative to a non-compete agreement or merger.

The main issue I'd raise is whether it's necessary or desirable to work out detailed policies in advance, or whether the better course of action is to develop complimentary messaging that encourages as many non-Con votes as possible without eliminating the differences that bring out different groups of voters. But it's well worth noting that there are plenty of options between merging and rejecting the idea of cooperating - and it may not take much to shape the narrative of a campaign in a direction that both parties would seemingly have reason to pursue.

- But of course, that narrative also needs to be directed toward winning seats. And there's good news on that front, as at least one of the parties to any potential coalition is working on expanding its Quebec base.

- I'll deal later with the substantive question of how the NDP in particular should see per-vote funding based on an interesting Rabble discussion. But for now, Duff Conacher notes why per-vote funding is a plus for Canada's broader political system:
The annual per-vote subsidy of $1.95 for federal political parties should not be eliminated as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposes because it is one of the most democratic aspects of Canada's political finance system as it gives a cash boost to parties that do not elect as many members of parliament as they should because of the flaws of our first-past-the-post voting system.
- Finally, Warren Kinsella is right on target in noting the weak spot in the Cons' latest attack ads:
Canadians aren’t frightened about a coalition. English Canadians don’t like the Bloc very much — but if Duceppe’s party is out of the equation, voters are quite OK with a coalition, in fact.

The issue was hotly debated last summer. A poll conducted by Harris-Decima right afterwards found more than half of Canadians, from coast to coast, were fine with some sort of co-operation between the Liberals and the NDP. About 60% said they supported ideas ranging from a non-compete agreement to an outright merger.

The main focus of the Reformatory ads are off the mark because, one, the Conservative Party itself is the result of a coalition. Two, in 2000, Harper himself secretly signed a deal for a coalition with the Tories and the Bloc. Three, some of the most revered Canadians — Jean Chretien and Ed Broadbent — like the idea. Four, even Harper’s most ardent suitors, like Lorne Gunter, call his coalition fear mongering “fairy tales.”

I’ve put together a few attack ads in my day. To work, they have to “surface feelings” about something.

Problem is, these ads “surface feelings” about something Canadians aren’t afraid of. At all.

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