Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Politics Without Reason

Liberal, NDP have no reason for a coalition

Wiriting for the National Post's Full Comment blog, Brian lee Crowley throws a bucket of cold water on the most recent version of coalition fantasies held by the Liberal Party and the NDP.

Crowley simply points out that in order to justify imposing a Liberal/NDP coalition -- a coalition likely beholden to the Bloc Quebecois -- these two parties would need a reason.

Right now, they don't have one.

Crowley writes:
"the question for Canadians is not “is a coalition possible,” but rather, “what important public purpose would it serve today?” Proponents of coalition have signally failed to give a satisfactory answer. “Because we hate the Tories” hardly qualifies.

The attempts at justification to date have been pretty feeble.
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Some of them, as Crowley points out, is predicated on the fantasy that all the Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party, NDP or Bloc Quebecois voted for a unified rigidly anti-Conservative ticket.

As Crowley points out, this cynical suggestion is not the case:
"A majority of Canadians oppose the Tories, but a much larger majority oppose the Grits, to say nothing of the NDP. And it is not at all clear that the support levels for each party can simply be added together as if one were mixing red and orange paint to produce a lovely tangerine. It can instead resemble mixing half a cup of coffee with an equal amount of tea to get a drink unpalatable to lovers of either."
Not only does no such ideological and political unity exist between the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois, but no such ideological unity exists within the Liberal Party itself -- although a tenuous political unity does.

Attempting a hastily-concocted coalition with the NDP would likely drive a significant number of small-c conservatives out of the party, and for good reason:
"The Liberal Party alone is riven with internal disputes, and is home to many different political views that co-exist uneasily in the absence of the glue of power and patronage. Remember that it is the Liberal Party of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin that helped shrink the size of the state from 53% of GDP in 1993 to barely 40% 15 years later. Liberals might well have denounced this move to smaller smarter government as the work of the devil if it had been accomplished by the Tories. But a large minority within the party is proud of the achievement and has no interest in handing over the keys to 24 Sussex to a newly merged party dominated by left-wing Liberals and NDPers who want to turn back the clock — especially since their coalition could take power in the current parliament only by being entirely beholden to Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois for every winning parliamentary vote, a position that would cause Pierre Trudeau to whirl so fast in his grave that he would stand a good chance of tearing a hole in the space-time continuum"
Moreover, even the Canadian Alliance/Progressive Conservative Party merger often cited as justification for a left-wing coalition or union does not truly apply:
"When the Canadian Alliance and the PCs merged, it was merely two halves of a previously existing party remarrying. But the NDP is no fragment of the Liberal Party. It has long opposed both the allegedly indistinguishable 'old line' parties, and is a unique mixture of prairie populism, American progressivism, social gospelers, trade union apparatchiks and British Fabians. What has that to do with the Bay Street bankers, Roman Catholics, slick patronage dispensers and consumers, welfare-state clients and the dizzying array of disparate immigrant groups that constitute the Liberal base?"
With all the arguments in favour a left-wing coalition laid so utterly threadbare, Crowley makes it clear that the case for a Liberal/NDP coalition was poor from the very get go.

Their pretext was the prosposal of the abolition of federal subsidies for political parties -- making it clear that some of these parties have distanced themselves so much from private enterprise that they cannot bear the idea of raising their own funds, and believe that any threat to their entitlements justifies ramming through an irresponsible and inevitably-destructive coalition government (with said government mortgaged to the separatist Bloc Quebecois).

The Liberals and NDP clearly have no reason for a coalition. If a coalition is what they plan to centre their politics around for any significant period of time, it's clear that these parties will be moving toward a politics without reason.


2 comments:

  1. Party politics, which is what this about, rarely has to do with any "important public purpose" and everything to do with the acquisition of power.

    It's the same motivation that was behind the Alliance/PC merger.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with you on the former period, disagree with you about the latter.

    As Crowley points out, the Alliance/PC merger merely reunited two divided wings of the old Conservative Party -- which had slowly begun to diverge after John Bracken dictated the "Progressive Conservative" name change as a condition of adopting leadership of the party.

    ReplyDelete

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