Nathan Cullen proposes "coalition lite"
With Nathan Cullen contesting the leadership of the NDP, it's as fair a question to answer as for any other candidate:
What, precisely, does Cullen have to offer?
As it turns out, the answer is "very little". To date, Cullen's offering in the leadership campaign is "beat Harper", and not much else. To whit, Cullen is recommending that the NDP run "joint candidates" to defeat Conservative candidates.0
Is it coalition lite? Or merger lite?
It doesn't seem to matter to Cullen. To him, it's the prefect way to pander to a wider variety of left-wing voters.
"I believe now is the time to respond to the call from people of all walks of life, who hate that Stephen Harper can change our country for the worse with support of less than four in 10 voters," Cullen declared. "For me, the greater cause is that the wedge politics of the Stephen Harper government are killing us. ... We need to find a way to speak past the narrow political interests of parties from time to time."
A very real question must persist over whether or not those same people liked it when Jean Chretien was able to govern Canada with the support of less than four in ten voters. It also seems necessary to remember that it was that same Chretien government that slashed healthcare and education funding.
Yet the NDP -- whose bread-and-butter issue is healthcare -- never pulled out all the stops to team with their fellow opposition parties to put a stop to that in 1997. Very curious.
Non-ironies aside, this is an idea that only could have come from the NDP at a time when they're ahead of the Liberal Party, both in seat count and in popular support. In this sense, Cullen is very opportunistic with an idea he very clearly hasn't thought through.
For example, with whose caucus would a joint candidate sit? The Liberal Caucus? The Green Party Caucus? The NDP caucus? As an independent?
The only way an idea like this can be said to even remotely work would be within a formal coalition -- and Canadians have already shown what they think of that. Even if Cullen hasn't learned his lesson in this regard, his fellow leadership candidates seem to -- they've all given the idea their staunch disapproval.
This, along with the detail that joint candidates would require participation from another party. The Liberal Party is practically guaranteed to refuse.
Cullen will almost certainly remain undeterred.
"I have no problem going up against Stephen Harper one on one," Cullen declared. "This just makes it a slam dunk."
Not many Conservatives would worry much about a Stephen Harper/Nathan Cullen match-up in a federal election. Cullen's half-baked ideas are nothing to worry about.