The New Coalition Government?

Stephen Harper in Question Period

At first it was a rumour. People were saying on blogs that the NDP might be willing to prop up the Conservative government in exchange for a national referendum on proportional representation. But gradually, the rumour gathered steam, and now CTV is reporting that the Conservatives are actively courting the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP to thwart any attempt by the “surging” Liberals to topple this government in a vote of non-confidence. In the CTV report, the price for NDP support appears to be “EI reform… stricter credit card regulations and increase(d) pension protection.”

Now, some Liberals have reacted angrily to this suggestion, saying that it’s on the NDP’s own neck if they get in bed with the government. And it is. If Harper agrees to a deal but isn’t held to account on his subsequent moves, then the NDP and the Bloc will have to wear the fact that they allowed a bad government to stay in power. However, I would suggest that the Liberal bluster is Liberal arrogance speaking.

Why should the official opposition party expect the other oppositions in this parliament to just fall into line when Ignatieff is ready to pull the plug? It’s not like the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois speak to the same interests. These MPs have a right, indeed an obligation, to campaign for their own constituents, and if these MPs truly believe that there are things that can be accomplished for their constituents by cooperating with this government, that’s their prerogative. This is a finely balanced minority parliament where any one opposition party can prop up the government if it so chooses. The criticism that I had of the Conservative government for not cooperating with the opposition applies to the official opposition. It’s not your own choice, you have to work with your opposition partners if you want your plan to succeed. And getting angry about it isn’t a good first step towards gaining that cooperation.

And I would have to say that if Jack Layton is actually able to extract a commitment towards proportional representation from Stephen Harper, and is actually able to hold Harper to his word (admittedly something of a longshot), then I would say that Jack Layton would have accomplished far more on behalf of Canadians as a whole than Ignatieff and Dion have by rolling over and allowing more than sixty confidence motions against this government pass. EI reform, credit card regulations and pension protection seem a lot less exciting, but might be worthwhile, if the NDP doesn’t stop there.

To Conservatives, in spite of my harsh post of two days ago, I would say that if such an alliance comes about, I’m willing to see if it can work, assuming you do the right thing and bring Mr. Abdelrazik home, and assuming you live up to your commitments to your new “coalition partners”. I am a Christian; I believe that there is always a chance of redemption.

But I would further call upon Conservative party supporters, who called the coalition alliance between Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe a ‘coup d’etat’ or a ‘shameless power grab’, to acknowledge their hypocrisy. If you were really incensed at Dion because you felt that separatists had no place in government, then you should feel at least a little ashamed of yourselves that you are courting separatists in order to stay in power.

Happy birthday to the love of my life Erin, who is turning 37 today! I love you and am proud of you. I look forward to another year of being able to do what we love for a living. We did it, honey! We’re doing it. And you should be proud of yourself that we’ve got this far.

Now if only the kids would let us sleep…

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