Andrew Coyne claims the idea was “even crazier” than the US government shutdown.
Ignatieff, promoting a book on his brief tenure as Liberal leader, called it a “coalition of losers.”
But given coalitions are the norm in the rest of the developed world, how crazy could the idea be?
2008 Fall Economic Update
First to put the coalition in context: back in the fall of 2008 (shortly after the election,) Harper put forward an economic update outlining an agenda of austerity measures.
What made this action completely absurd was the recent global economic meltdown which caused the “Great Recession.” Governments around the world were implementing stimulus spending to cushion the blow. Harper appeared oblivious to the crisis.
In order to avoid defeat, Harper put the new session of Parliament to an end with an opportunistic prorogue to buy some time.
Iggy rejects coalition
By the time Parliament re-opened, Ignatieff was crowned Liberal leader and dumped the coalition idea. Instead he told Canadians he was putting the Harper Government “on notice.”
Harper complied by introducing a $40B stimulus package (over 2 years) which he named the “Economic Action Plan.” (Years after the funding ran out, Harper is still polluting the airwaves with Action Plan ads at a cost of $100M to taxpayers.)
Recovery better than most
The Liberal/NDP stimulus package did the job. Add to it: Liberal banking regulation (that prevented a finance meltdown here,) sound Liberal finances and a resource boom, and our country weathered the recession better than most developed nations.
Harper left to his own devices
If Harper had been allowed to implement right-wing austerity, however, things would’ve turned out very differently. David Cameron took the “expansionary austerity” route which made the current UK slump worse than what it suffered during the Great Depression.
Only in Canada would a coalition that has 54% of the vote and 53% of the seats be considered extreme and undemocratic.
Compare this to Harper’s right-leaning coalition in 2011 which awarded him absolute power on 40% of the vote. In the rest of the developed world — where an actual majority of voters is represented in government — that would be considered a coalition of losers.
Until we upgrade our primitive voting system, Canadians are the real losers.