Saturday, March 26, 2011

When is a coalition not a coalition

When is consultation not consultation? Some would have you believe that Mr. Harper never consults with anyone on his policies, but it's clear that there is a difference between "consulting" with the opposition and actually doing everything that they tell you to do.

This campaign is inevitably going to bring out many rebuttals to Mr. Harper's assertion that a Coalition is illegitimate.  Those rebuttals will point out that Mssrs. Harper, Layton and Duceppe jointly sent a letter to the Governor General in 2004 reminding her to consider all options if the Prime Minister discussed a dissolution of Parliament with her.  Those rebuttals will also inevitably include the fact that Mr. Harper began discussions with Mr. Duceppe in 2004 when it appeared that he might win a minority government, including consulting with Mr. Duceppe about what he might want to see in a Throne Speech.

Consulting with Mr. Duceppe is fine. Giving Mr. Duceppe a veto on anything that gets done is different. It's surprising how many people don't understand that point. Because Mr. Dion was not in a position to govern without the Bloc's support in 2008, EVERY decision had to be something Mr. Duceppe and his party wanted. EVERY decision would have been a chance for Mr. Duceppe to exhort more benefits from the Rest of Canada in favour of Quebec. Mr. Duceppe may have been smart enough not to exercise that power with every decision made, but his sole electoral responsibility is to extract more from the federal government for Quebec, and the more often he did this, the stronger he would have become.  Quebec will reward, for a time anyways, those who bribe or attempt to bribe them.

This isn't a matter of Mr. Harper being now hypocritical, this is a matter of Mr. Harper knowing this reality and understanding that no minority government will survive without the occasional support of such a strong regional party. A coalition may be legitimate. A coalition with the Bloc may even be legitimate. What isn't legitimate is when the three losing opposition parties attempt to subvert the will of the electorate without at least attempting to work with the incumbent party before they attempt to pull the trigger.  What happened in 2008 was planned long before the Throne Speech was ever written.  I have no doubt that the same parties will attempt it again if Mr. Harper does not get a majority.

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