Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Harper's carrot for the NDP

This afternoon's #2 Toronto Star headline couldn't smack more of blatant editorializing: Harper muses on possibility of majority win. What Harper actually said was that the votes had to be counted before he could talk of a majority, a minority, or a loss. (Which, frankly, sounds a lot more like the Stephen Harper we know and wrinkle our noses at. Stephen Harper doesn't muse. He deliberates, he discusses, and he ponders, but the day he starts musing will be a very odd day indeed.)

That said, there's a gold nugget at the bottom of that article for electoral reformers who are willing to sift through the grime for it. Harper reiterates his willingness to work with the NDP, but specifies further which of their issues he's up for collaboration on and which ones are off-limits:

One of the NDP's interests is electoral reform, he said. "This is something our convention in March expressed some interest in, although we haven't adopted any particular specific model."

While Harper may be willing to discuss democratic reforms like proportional representation, he insisted he would not allow the NDP to dictate terms of a federal budget — as Layton's party did with the Liberal budget last April.
In other words, if the NDP is willing to grin and bear it while a Conservative minority government pushes through the bulk of its fiscal agenda, proportional representation could become a rather substantial carrot. Contrast this with what happened under the last Liberal government, where they were open to NDP helping them put a big Band-aid on the problems of affordable housing, public transit, and post-secondary education, but proportional representation was out of the question because the NDP was "two votes short."

Harper's line in the sand is hardly an ideal situation for those of us on the left, but please, let's all be adults about this and say that we can live with it, okay? We're not going to get utopia in this election no matter what the outcome ends up being--none of us are. But this one little issue is enormous. We have the potential here to make positive changes not only to the level of democratic fairness in our voting system, but also to things like regional tensions and national unity, women's representation in Parliament, voter turnout, and our dysfunctional political culture. There's the possibility here of putting real, substantive reforms into place that will have positive effects on the country for decades and even centuries to come. And given how battered the Liberal party had to be before this was even on the horizon, this may be our last chance.


Candace said...

That was pretty brutal editorializing, wasn't it? Electoral reform would be a very good thing (I'd say "very very" but then I'd sound like a Liberal).

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


The Star is seriously out for blood now; it's appalling. I don't know what that was, but it wasn't journalism.

Jeff said...

The Toronto Sun had a similar headline, are they out get the Cons too?

JG said...

The day a Liberal calls electoral reform a "very very important priority" will be a frosty day in Hell.