Two Conventions; One Solution #canpoli #cndpoli #cdnpoli

Naomi Klein on Cooperation

The Federal Liberals and NDP had conventions this weekend and the respective leaders of each party were in the spotlight – Thomas Mulcair as Leader of the government-in-waiting and Justin Trudeau for being elected the Liberal’s new leader in a landslide.

And for all the attention on those two leaders, one of the main things I hope people take away is that there are a *lot* of Canadians who want to see some form of cooperation between the more progressive parties to ensure Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are defeated once and for all in the next election.

In the recent NDP Leadership race, this view was represented by Nathan Cullen who came in third out of seven candidates and captured a quarter of the vote.  In the Liberal Leadership race, although a blowout by Trudeau, it’s still notable that the second place finisher was Joyce Murray who also favoured cooperation.  She came in second out of six candidates and captured ten per cent of the points allocated via the preferential system the Liberals used.

There are a lot of reasons pro and con about cooperation so I’m not going to recap them here (there are also a lot of variations of how cooperation would work which would need to be hammered out that I will touch on below.)

But here’s what it comes ultimately down to for me…

Since 1993, Canada has been led by parties who benefited, at least in part, from splits among parties on the opposite end of the political spectrum – the Reform/Conservative split divided resources and focus on the right for three elections (four if you count 2004 when they finally merged) that they may have otherwise been able to win.   Then the split flipped to the “left” (I know the Liberals are more centrist and also, more culturally distinct from the NDP than the Conservatives/Reform were but work with me here) and now the Conservatives have won three elections in a row.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Canadians now have TWENTY years of evidence that splits on one side of the political spectrum ensure that the other side will enjoy long runs in government.

NDP supporters who think their recent success and current status as the Official Opposition somehow guarantees a victory in 2015 are being hopeful (which NDP supporters are always good at!) but perhaps also naive (also a popular NDP trait!)

Liberals who see Justin Trudeau as the saviour of the party who will guarantee a return to government are being hopeful (which Liberals supporters are also good at!) but also naive about the current state of the Liberal party in Canada (not a trait that Liberal supporters are used to!)

Most cooperation proposals aren’t suggesting a full merger.  They’re not eliminating democracy – they’re just adding an extra layer in the form of run-off elections between nominees of the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties.  They’re not saying that all ridings would have these extra run-offs – most say that run-offs would only occur in ridings that were close in 2011 (for example, the Conservatives got less than 50% of the vote or they won by less than 1000 votes) .

No one can predict the future – some will claim that the patterns of 2011 won’t repeat in 2015 so cooperation is useless.  Yet, in the next breath, they’ll tell you what current polling show about what *will* happen in 2015 if there was a cooperation agreement so there’s point in doing it! 😉

I really like Joyce Murray’s analogy – she compares cooperation to an Olympic hockey team where the best players from various teams come together one time for a common goal that’s in the best interest of the country then, after that goal is achieved, the players go back to their own teams.

I’d even do her analogy one better – I think this situation is like the 1972 Summit Series where the best players in Canada came together from a limited number of teams to battle a common enemy that’s highly disciplined, arrogant and foreign to Canadian values! 😉

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  1. From Head Tale - T-13: A Way To *Guarantee* Stephen Harper Loses #elxn42 #canpoli on 07 Oct 2015 at 9:16 pm

    […] couple years ago in April 2013, soon after the NDP and Liberals had their respective conventions, I blogged about how each party had a strong “cooperation” element within their party – represented in the NDP by Nathan Cullen who took third place in that party’s […]

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