Let me see if I’ve got this straight. After failing to gain the majority government he so desperately sought in the recent Canadian federal election (winning only 144 of 308 seats) and then promising to work with parliament to make his new minority government work, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to govern as if he had a majority. On Thursday, his finance minister delivered a financial statement designed to cripple the opposition parties and refuse to address the economic crisis. Threatened, the opposition parties are now meeting to form a possible coalition government to defeat the Conservatives in a confidence motion (now scheduled for December 8, 2008).
I think the proposed coalition is doomed from the start for the following reasons:
1) In order to stay in power (with support of a majority of members of parliament) for any period of time, a coalition of opposition parties would require a deal with the Bloc Quebecois (49 seats), a non-federal party whose stated goal is the dissolution of Canada. Such a deal would give that party unprecedented power to hold up the business of Canada for their own ends. It would also taint the other two members of the proposed coalition (Liberals with 77 seats, New Democrats with 37 seats).
2) The Liberals are struggling both financially and in leadership. Their leader, Stephane Dion, is a lame duck, and a leadership race is underway to replace him. So, who would be the Prime Minister of a coalition government? Dion, who has little support in his party, one of the leadership candidates who have even less credibility than Dion, or Jack Layton, leader of the New Democrats?
3) Any coalition is destined to fail if just for reason 1 above. In other words, an election in the next few months is inevitable. The opposition parties, especially the Liberals, cannot afford to wage another election. Indeed, such an election could very well lead to their demise as a viable party. Are they really willing to risk that?
Few people want another election. Few wanted the last one and we had the lowest voter turnout in memory. Elections are expensive and the electorate has spoken and told our federal politicians that they don’t trust any party with a majority. Our politicians need to deal with that fact! Harper and the other leaders must learn to truly work with each other, and get along with governing in this time of global crisis! Forming a coalition that gives power to a separatist party will not do that!
Get real Ottawa!