Another Entry in the Mediocre Media Carnival

Credit for this one goes to Andrew at Bound by Gravity:

Voters like idea of a Liberal-NDP merger: poll

A new poll, released as two more left-leaning candidates prepare to enter the Liberal leadership race, suggests a merger of the Liberal and New Democratic parties could be an electoral winner.

The Decima Research poll found that 25 per cent of Canadians believed the two parties should unite.

Voters who supported either of the two parties in last winter’s election were even more receptive to the idea: 36 per cent of Liberals favoured a merger and 32 per cent of New Democrats.


Right. Since the article does not go into much detail about the makeup of the remaining 75% (or 64% of Liberals, 68% of New Democrats) who said something other than they favoured a merger of the two parties, here’s my take on what the likely numbers were:

  • 10% said “don’t bother me, I’m trying to get to work!”
  • 15% said “get a job, you lousy pollster!”
  • 20% said “huh?”
  • 25% said “didn’t we already unite the right?”
  • 30% tried to convert the pollster to the ways of THE LORD!
  • and a whopping 50% said “SCREW POLITICS! LET’S TALK ABOUT HOCKEY!!!!”

Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

It is a pretty shoddy piece of reporting that leaves out so much information that the readers are left considerably uninformed and pray to the article’s spin, and I haven’t seen such spin in all of my reading of the mainstream media. It’s shocking that something so flimsy could get past the eye of the editor on duty. Somebody didn’t do his or her job. It’s like these guys are not even trying to hide their particular bias. Readers deserve better.

Andrew notes that the article’s headline has been slightly modified to “Voters find merit in NDP-Liberal merger: poll”. That’s a big improvement.

Jilted Liberals

As bad as the above article is, it does allow me to segue into this discussion about the merits of a unite-the-left movement promoted by a few individuals out to oust the Conservatives by political chickanery.

I understand that some people are not fans of Conservative policy in general or prime minister Stephen Harper in particular. I sympathize with and share the concerns a number of people have on elements of Harper’s policy platform, both declared and undeclared. But frankly, some people’s concerns have gone over the edge into a startling lack of perspective, and a willingness to blame others for their own faults.

Idealistic Pragmatist has a good post on this phenomenon. Here a quote she gathers:

“[Layton is single-handedly responsible for the] disempowerment of the progressive majority of this country.”
The Just Society

Here’s another quote I found:

“All Layton is doing is helping to destroy Canada’s social programs, take away a woman’s right to a safe abortion, take away rights for gay couples, bring back uncontrolled guns, threaten universality of medicine and turn the Canadian military into a division of the United States army.”
Yappa Ding Ding

And here’s a quote from Idealistic Pragmatist’s comments:

“Layton is an idiot and an ego maniac more concerned about his political ego than the future of this country and it’s progressive values. He’s a little chiwawa lap dog for Harper and it is sick and twisted. Face it, this country will never elect an NDP government so if the far lefties are so intent on destroying the Liberals they will send the country to the far right where no NDP values will be reflected in any way shape or form. It is a fight of folly and stupidity and blindness to the greater cause which is to move Canada forward with progressive ideas. I have zero respectd for the NDP today. Pathetic stupid idiots that seem to like to befriend the NEOCONS. Perhaps it makes them feel powerful. Layton is a LOSER.” —Underdog

Yeah, way to win friends and influence people, Underdog. Ever wonder why your nickname is so appropriate?

Hearing some die-hard Grits react to the possibility that Stephen Harper and Jack Layton might be working out a deal to secure NDP support for the Conservative government during this session of the house, I am reminded of the sort of dialogue you’d expect from a jilted lover. I mean, how dare you choose him over me. I’m the only man for you! I’m the only one who can treat progressive voters right and give you jewels and flowers and day care programs!

There’s denial and there’s anger, here, and an unwillingness to face facts. For example, there’s the suggestion that Jack Layton’s refusal to cowtow to the Liberals and focus his attack on the Conservatives is what cost Paul Martin the election. The fact is, the Liberals lost the election because they were unfit to govern. The Liberal Party had become lazy and arrogant, and Paul Martin was a hopeless Prime Minister, unable to offer any clear vision of the country for fear of losing votes. The sponsorship scandal highlighted the dangers of leaving the party in power for too long, and the only way we actually managed to get real movement on issues such as health care and urban affairs is when Layton held the government’s feet to the fire — as he is now trying to do with the Harper Conservatives.

You can only choose to prop up a tired, corrupt and arrogant government for so long. At some point, fears over what the government-in-waiting might do become irrelevant. I and many Canadians believe that it’s good that the government changed when it did, and I know that certain Liberals agree. If the Liberals had gotten any more complacent, the movement of voters could have been even sharper, and the Conservatives could have been elected to a majority.

This equation will remain in effect until the Liberals elect a new leader, and come at Canadians with a fresh outlook and a certain level of humility. Until then, Stephen Harper is thus far a better prime minister than Paul Martin was, and he has the country’s steering wheel for the time being. We have to accept that. Fortunately, the NDP has the brakes.

Right now, every party in parliament is being held on a short leash, and if this government is to govern, it has to negotiate in good faith with the opposition parties. And if the opposition parties want to be seen as anything other than obstructionist, they have to sit down at the table and return that good faith. You can’t negotiate if you argue that Stephen Harper is the spawn of the devil.

It’s easy for me to say this because I don’t believe that Stephen Harper is the spawn of the devil. I disagree with a number of his policies and viewpoints, but as long as he’s willing to listen and deal, and as long as he’s given nothing but minority parliaments, he has the potential to be a good prime minister. Arguing that working with Harper now is going to lead to an elimination of a woman’s right to choose, or a repeal of same sex marriage, or Bush Administration-style deficits is simple paranoia. In terms of legislation, Stephen Harper has been given the right to propose and advocate, nothing more. If an abortion bill hit the floor, it would be soundly defeated. If Harper pressed a social-conservative agenda on the next campaign, he would lose votes. If he tricked his way into a majority government with promises of moderation and then reneged, he would be ousted four years later.

You might disagree with me, but is being truculent going to do this country any good? Is returning to the voters after they’ve rendered their verdict on the last parliament a wise move? The electorate sent politicians a clear message: that Stephen Harper is the prime minister, and he has to work with a hung parliament. Refuse to accept the decision of the electorate, and you may have their next decision jammed down your throat.

So Jack Layton is doing the sensible thing by talking to Harper, and negotiating in good faith with the Conservative government. There is an unprecidented opportunity here for the smaller parties to get the government to focus on issues that have been largely ignored during majority parliaments.

And, in some respects, the Liberals should be quietly thanking the NDP for working with this government, allowing the Liberals to act like an official opposition without risk of bringing about an early election. It will take a while before Canadians are willing to trust the Liberals again. They need to soul search and renew. They need the time, at least, to select a decent leader. Imagine how much of a disaster it would be if opposition intransigence led to an election wherein the Liberals were leaderless. Even if Paul Martin were to come out of retirement, a la Trudeau 1980, it wouldn’t help. Indeed, it would probably seal their fate.

An NDP-Conservative coalition presents the sort of moderate government Canadians crave, and it gives the Liberals a chance to properly renew themselves and offer a decent choice the next time we go to the polls. There is an opportunity here for Canadians to have three decent choices to consider if an election occurred in 2007. However, if die-hard Grits continue stamp their feet, whine and complain and act as though they are somehow entitled to the progressive vote, they will remind Canadians of the arrogance and contempt for the average voter that put them in the opposition benches in the first place.

It’s really that simple.

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