I sent this response to a friend via email re: Canadian coalition thoughts. I should have added that I thought the Gov. General’s decision to let PM Stephen Harper put the Parliament in recess (“prorouged” in the parlance) was a really big mistake. If we she was going to do that, she probably should have just refused the Coalition, refused the elections, and forced everybody back to work. Events are spinning far too fast, far too out of control, for this bush-league crap on both sides.
[Blank], I didn’t get a chance to answer your question about my thoughts on the coalition.
1. The natural governance of this country belongs to the left, minus a fracturing of the left. That has occurred in the last few years, hence the Conservatives have held (minority) power. The Liberals have always (mis)interpreted that “natural” reality (with some history behind them) as they being the natural party of the country. They are now learing that won’t always be the case in the 21st century.
2. Harper played a dumb dumb hand. He should have known that the left (and here I am including the Bloc as left-wing econ/pol) basically is pretty well ball-less, except for any moment when their ability to suck from the public teet will be taken from them. Only then will the leftites grow a pair and he is now seeing to his chagrin.
2a. Furthermore, Conservatives used to be modernist enough to believe results actually mattered. Sorry charlie, but they still do, postmodern world and all that included. You can’t govern like a majority party when you don’t get elected to one. To quote the great philosophers The Jeffersons, “fish don’t fry in the kitchen/beans don’t burn on the grill.”
2b. He is of course going back to classic right-wing “the gut politics of fear and loathing”–with his whinning about “we waz robbed” and “the socialists and the separatists are coming, the socialists and the separatists are coming!!!” Quick somebody put a couple lanterns up in the old north side of parliament. Which in essence communicates, “don’t vote us, just don’t vote the other guys.” Not exactly a winner of a strategy to say the least.
3. And here my emotional reactive side will speak. F–k all these guys. How can they be playing this level of kindergarten schoolyard politics now of all times? That’s probably an insult to kindergartens everywhere, in which case I apologize to them. This is also what happens when you put some humanitarian political-lite figurehead CBCer in for Gov. General, which should otherwise be a figurehead job but now of all times actually matters. And the person possibly least qualified to deal with it has the power. Exit/$64,000,000 Question: Who is she getting her advice from at this point?
4. Procedurally something has to be give in this country. Almost all the Anglo-American countries with paraliamentary systems are still dominated by two party rule: e.g. GB, Australia, US. But it has gotten to where this is a multi-party country. Either you rule by coalition in a multi-party democracy, you kill the other parties at the polls, or it don’t work. No cake and consumption simultaenously on this one. The only Anglo-paraliamentary system that has a tradition/culture of coalition building I can think of (off top of my head) is Israel. Obviously that scenario is complicated by the existence of Jewish/Zionist religious parties. But the basic danger of coalition building is utter fragmentation and small 9th parties, as it were, having massively dispropotionate weight since the coalition relies on them to pass something. (Opening for NDP? Greens?). Either get rid of the other parties or learn the art of coalition government.
5. While in theory I’m not opposed to coaliton governance, this is a kinda shady way to do it seems to me. Ideally, they should have run on a coalition platform. Something doesn’t feel quite right about it. But not because of the evil “SS” (socialists, separatists) coming upon us. The Liberals get handed their worst lost basically since Confederation and they get to be in power? Again, results actually matter. In a way I would say new elections, but they will be even lower turnout and further disillusion anyone from participation. Moreover, this coalition and temporary power grab could be in the medium/long term very bad for the Grits. They need a major thorough cleansing and overhaul: party platform, image, leadership, method of elections, age/gender, the whole works. They won’t do that if they get power in the interim because the right shot itself. Their leadership are arrogant fools, and they need to get a lesson in humility, or minus that as a possibility, shown the door.
6. So if the left does come into power, Afghanistan is going to loom huge. That will of course also depend on what Obama does or doesn’t do there, and whether NATO is viable in the 21st century.
On the domestic front, The Bloc will as they always will exist solely to suck up some free cash for Quebec. Who wants to be ideological anymore? Separatism? Come on, that’s so 1970s. The NDP will attempt to pull left in a more Neo-Keynesian fashion in the current economic meltdown. I’m fairly skeptical of infrastructure build up working as a way to get over a liquidity, solvency/credit crisis, but it would be good as build up for infrastructure. If such were to be the case, there will be stories years later of boondoggles and public back-scratching about who gets what projects.
If the coalition comes in, the right could self-destruct as they descend into a frenzied mania and cannibalize their own. The whole party has really been built on Harper. If he goes down, so may go the ship. The coalition could hold for a time, but its fissures will eventually surface one way or another. If they can find someway to deal with them, and deal with the econ crisis, they will be sitting fairly pretty. If not, both the right and the left will fracture and then who the hell knows what happens. In that scenario, plus real econ disaster, look from strange plus potentially scary outcomes (right wing or left-wing protectionism and/or nationalism). And the potential for a total constitutional crisis and the de-legitmation of The Confederation.
7. Plan B (or is it C or D?) at that point becomes go local and go hard. The formation of local resilient communities that weather the transition to the post-crisis form of economics, urban landscape across a series of vectors: security, food, currency/trust,
Just some thoughts.