Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Steve says in private

As we know, Canadians -- even those who are willing to support the Conservatives out of hatred of the Liberals -- are leery of giving them a majority. You've doubtless noticed the fact that they never seem to say the M-word in public. In front of the party faithful, though, it's a different story:

Of course, all the leaders (except Gilles) want a majority, but Harper's unwillingness to talk about it in public is telling. And when he talks about how a coalition will surely arise if the Cons don't get what they want (far from clear, but never mind), his followers take it for granted that this would be an utterly evil thing. Never mind that Harper's European counterparts like Angela Merkel would never think of trying to run a minority government on their own... his message seems to be "Vote for me, and I promise I will not cooperate with anyone". Nice.

ETA: the whole speech can be found here; hat tip to A BCer in Toronto.


cherenkov said...

Typical pump-up-the-troops rhetoric. I think this is being over-blown.

The difference our European Counterparts and us, is that they know how to make a minority government work. In Canada, a minority government is completely disfunctional, as evidenced by our four elections in five years, and the constitutional crisis of last December. Everybody is to blame for that, but you can't blame Harper for wanting a majority.

nitroglycol said...

Actually, I agree with a lot of what you say here. (Indeed, I acknowledged in the post that all the national party leaders would like to get a majority). However, I'm not sure that "everybody" is to blame. The NDP has shown willingness to work with other parties, the pre-Ignatieff Liberal Party was willing as well. The Bloc refuses to join any actual coalition but is at least willing to form an accord (hence their agreement to support a Liberal-NDP coalition government).

I think that the Europeans have accepted that majority governments are virtually impossible (owing to proportional representation) and thus know that they have to form coalitions. Here we have the same situation but for a different reason, namely the strength of the Bloc. If the Bloc survives for a couple more elections, maybe the big parties here will come to the same realization, in which case maybe things will become more civilized.

Incidentally, I'm told (can't confirm) that in some European countries it's not unknown for regional nationalist parties (Basque, Catalan, etc) to join governing coalitions. That's also unlikely for the forseeable future in this country, though, because forming an actual coalition involving the Bloc would likely annoy the supporters of both the Bloc and the federalist coalition partner.