Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coalition of losers? Hardly

This week, the proposed Liberal/NDP coalition of 2008 is back in the news.

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.

So the Liberals and NDP (with support from the Bloc — which Harper himself relied on during his first 18 months in power) decided to vote down the government and form a coalition in its place.

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.

Backwards democracy

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this into perspective and reminding me again of the loser that Iggy was.

    You'd think that he would at least have understood that it was not up to the voters to determine whether Harper should have been allowed to continue to govern. You'd think that Iggy would have understood that in our Parliamentary system, the government governs only with the confidence of the House. And since Harper had lost the confidence of the House (because it was a minority government and the opposition votes formed the majority) he had lost the right to govern.

    Therefore, the proposed coalition was actually a legitimate coalition. Seems Harper could have been right about the fact that Iggy was "Just Visiting". Amazing that several years after the fact and he still does not appear to understand this fundamental fact of how our system functions and still insists that the coalition was illegitimate (which actually amounted to his shooting himself in the foot during the 2011 elections when he unfortunately made this erroneous statement).


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