Thursday, June 10, 2010

To merge or not to merge? That is not the question!

There’s been much speculation of late about the prospects of a unite the left movement in Canada which would result in some sort of merger of the “left wing” parties, in much the same way the Conservative Alliance (formerly Reform Party) and the Progressive Conservatives did back in 2003. Legendary Liberal bag man Warren Kinsella and former PM Chretien, seem to be behind this mischief and have publicly supported it. Although, so far, the Dipper named in most of the rumours as the NDP’s representative, “Honest Ed” Broadbent, is keeping stum regarding the controversy.

Whereas, that marriage seems to have worked out well, at least for the Reformers in the sense that they managed to come to power in 2006, largely because they finally had the numbers to defeat the Big Red Machine (a.k.a the Grits), albeit, just by the skin of their teeth. This would probably be a disaster for the Greens, Grits and Dippers (I exclude the Bloc, as their participation would make things nigh impossible!) in more ways than one.

We may have considered a getting into bed with the Grits after the ’08 elections as a desperate measure in order to give Harper’s government the boot, but that was a very different Grit party we were dealing with. The principled but politically naïve Stéphane Dion would have been a suitable coalition partner because he was progressive enough on most issues (i.e. Green Shift) and weak enough that he would have depended on Jack’s strong communication skills to sell his government’s policies. Not so with Ignatieff! The man has demonstrated that he’s rather to the right of the political spectrum. Further, his massive ego would never allow the NDP to play a prominent role in any new party or coalition government, so long as he was in charge.

Not to mention, a merger/coalition at this point would be extremely premature, to say the least. Surely the constitution of the NDP would require the Party’s membership to be consulted (perhaps by referendum) before a major decision like this could be implemented. And, to put not to fine a point on it, this scheme hasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of being approved! The Liberal party may be a top-down organization, as evidenced by the undemocratic way in which Iggy became leader, but the NDP’s a very different animal.

Moreover, we would not have nearly enough seats between us at the moment, to bring down the government and cause an election or form our own (hence the ill-fated wooing of the separatist BQ, last time around).

But perhaps the best argument against some sort of coalition at this stage or, worse still, a merger of the parties, is the moral one ( I can just imagine Grit spin doctors laughing at such a quaint notion, as I write this). We run the risk of losing our moral compass by making a Faustian bargain with the Grits in some vain attempt to gain power. The Grits simply are no longer the party of social democracy and, apart from a few exceptions, have essentially abandoned Trudeau’s admirable notion of making Canada a “Just Society.” An idea that, former Dipper leaders (including Broadbent), were able to support morally and politically.

The Future is Unwritten