From the Globe and Mail, December 23rd, 2006:
The Liberals are planning a "308-seat strategy" for the next federal election in which they will contest all seats in the Commons, including those in regions they have previously written off, such as Alberta.Now, it wasn't spelled out there exactly how a "308-seat strategy" would differ from campaigns the Liberals have run in the past, but presumably at the bare minimum it would suggest running a candidate in 308 ridings, no?
From the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald, April 12, 2007:
The Liberals can’t decide whether to run a candidate in Central Nova or step out of the way to improve Elizabeth May’s chances of unseating Peter MacKay.I'm not sure what kind of strategy trying to help the leader of another party counts as, but it's certainly not a "308-seat" one. The Liberals took a respectable 25% in Central Nova in the last election, and have an established local riding association that will be completely demolished if they do this. And for what? The vote totals in Central Nova in the last election looked like this:
On one side are most Nova Scotia Liberals, who think the party ought to run a candidate in every riding in Canada. On the other side is federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who would prefer not to run a candidate in Central Nova, perhaps because Ms. May often praises his character and environmental credentials, which helps him in the national media.
"There’s a widespread sentiment that Dion is off his rocker to be considering this," one prominent Liberal said this week. "There’s increasing division within the party in Nova Scotia. If Dion proceeds with this, he will have done himself big damage in Nova Scotia within the Liberal party."
Conservatives 41%Which means that even if every single person who voted Liberal in the last election were to vote Green in the next one (a dubious assumption given how upset some of them seem), that would still only move the Greens into third place.
May had better have offered Dion an awfully sweet deal for him to even be considering this one.
[Update: It's official--it's happening. Perhaps predictably, some Liberals are trying to spin this to say that the only reason New Democrats might speak out against this is that they see this "progressive coalition" (sic) as a threat. Well, I won't speak for any New Democrats but myself, but that's not my objection at all. I'm not threatened--I'm well and truly baffled, on two different fronts.
The first front has to do with ideals. Like I said over at Woman at Mile 0's blog, I’m an immigrant American who chose Canada. One of the things I value about this country is that there’s real political diversity--a full spectrum of parties that, unlike my country of birth, allows voters to have genuine choices. And what it comes down to is the question of whether the Greens and the Liberals really are two distinct choices. If the two parties aren't sufficiently different to maintain two separate political identities, then they should merge. If they are sufficiently different to maintain two separate political identities--i.e., if the two parties can articulate concrete reasons why people would want to choose their party and not the other--then they should start acting like they know they're separate parties. It's really that simple.
Now, some will inevitably be thinking here: "but IP, I know you, and you LIKE the idea of coalitions!" Well, to that I can only say that this is quite a different animal from a coalition. A coalition happens in GOVERNMENT, AFTER the election. If, for example, the Liberals were to win a minority of the seats and the Greens were to get a few more, enough to make a majority government together, then they could form a coalition and govern side-by side. I would find nothing wrong with that; indeed, it would be the kind of thing I argue for in every third or fourth post in this blog. If the Liberals and the Greens want to stand up and announce their preference for forming the government together after the next election, I will applaud that. Actively banding together before the election, though, is not a coalition; it’s just a very puzzling strategy that disenfranchises Green voters in Saint-Laurent–Cartierville and (much more debilitatingly) Liberal voters in Central Nova. And as someone who thinks real voter choice is one of the best things about this country’s politics, that’s something I can’t support.
The second front is more about pragmatism--i.e., the real short- and long-term effects of this decision on these two parties. Presumably the two parties think there are concrete gains to be made from this deal, but I'm sorry, I'm just not seeing it. I talk about some of the reasons why above; and Accidental Deliberations outlines the rest of them. This is simply not a good idea, no matter how you slice it. Now, neither of these parties is my own, so it's not my place to get all outraged on their supporters' behalf or anything, but I'm certainly going to be sitting over here shaking my head in that aforementioned bafflement.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't note that something is getting lost in the shuffle, here--i.e., the fact that there's a much better solution to the problems that May and Dion are trying to solve. It's even something that both May and Dion are on the record as favouring. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd sure like to hear a lot more talk about that option and a lot less about ones that are completely antithetical to real, long-term reform.]
[Upperdate: Green blogger Herbinator sums up my issues with this in much fewer words:
It seems I am the only one who thinks it is wrong to sell votes. Nobody has a problem with thinking the buying of votes is incorrect. People vote, THEN politicians live down to their reputation. Politicians usurping an individuals right to vote for a party of choice is unconscientious.][Upper-dupper-date: The National Post wins IP brownie points by not incorrectly referring to this as a "coalition." "Non-aggression pact" is a fun term, too! I like it.]
[Upper-dupper-date-date: More from Herbinator here:
I can understand not being able to field candidates. I cannot understand removing a citizen's right to vote for a party of choice simply for self-serving political expediency. It is wrong to buy a vote; it is wrong to sell a vote.And while Liberal blogger Cerberus says a lot of things in this post that I can't agree with, this is the part where we're on the same page:
Voting is an opportunity for the voter to be self-serving and capricious. It is not for the politician to presuppose any voter's intension.
I am stepping down my activities in the Green Party of Canada in protest.
Now I like Elizabeth May and think she is an awesomely refreshing addition to federal politics. I think Canadian politics will benefit from having a growing and strong environmental movement getting elected. But if you want to see Elizabeth May in Parliament or more Greens in Parliament or more narrow-focused fringe parties in Parliament, then advocate for proportional representation. Don't mess with the democratic system like it is some plaything.][I-promise-this-is-the-last-update: pogge's post is hilarious and worth a read. Though it will undoubtedly tar him as a vicious partisan. *grin*]
Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
From the Globe and Mail, December 23rd, 2006: