Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Could a Liberal - NDP merger work? Maybe

If this is true, then it could be quite the earthquake in terms of politics.   CBC News claimed last night that the Liberals and the New Democrats are in talks not to have an informal or formal coalition (where one or the other would implicitly or explicitly agree not to run candidates to ensure the "other" party won -- like the Liberal-SDP "Alliance" in the UK during the 1980s) but in fact to merge the two parties together.

One suggested name for such a combined party would be the Liberal Democrats, like the UK party that emerged when the Libs and most of the SDP merged in 1988 (one notable dissenter was Lord David Owen who continues to sit in the House of Lords as a "Social Democrat").

It's a very interesting concept and one that should be pursued.    As someone who has voted across the political spectrum over the years, I think it could be made to work ... but this isn't a case of parties that are somewhat similar in philosophies.   On some social and economic issues the Libs and the NDs are actually far apart.    And the question would be whether it was a true marriage of equals or whether, as was the case when the right "united", that one party simply subsumed another and with it also destroyed the more progressive elements of political thought within the whole.

For this to really work, however, both Iggy and Jack would have to go ... and I just don't mean resign their leaderships but quit politics all together.    Someone new would have to be found that could truly unite a combined party as well as successfully referee the gaps that remained -- and knowing how to restrain social conservatives as well as outright socialists while protecting their right to speak freely both in the House and its committees and the media.   In other words, no more stage management or thought control as exists in the current PMO.

Also, perhaps, a more imaginative yet concise name could be thought of.   While Liberal Democrats in the UK and the Free Democrats in Germany (more like progressive conservative in practice) are certainly centrist in their setup, the phrase "liberal democrat" in most other countries really means conservative as in Japan -- or even neo-facist as is the case with the Russian variant.    Such an association if wrongly pegged could doom a merger from the start unless controlled very quickly.   Think the Conservatives, who as the Canadian Alliance had as its official name "Conservative-Reform Alliance Party" until the acronym CRAP become so ridiculed that the godfathers quickly had to change it to the even less appealing RCAP -- you can fill in those initials as you please.

One surefire way to ensure victory for a merged party would be to pledge a national referendum on proportional representation and the way it should be set up -- something we know the Conservatives will never want to implement or suggest.    They are quite content to see a situation where they continue to win a disproportionate number of seats and even see situations like in Saskatchewan where the NDs won more popular votes than the Liberals in 2008 yet the NDs were shut out of Parliament while a solitary Liberal (Ralph Goodale) was re-elected.   This would be a bitter pill to swallow for most Grits who have banked on multiple victories in the past thanks to first-past-the-post but can no longer rely on this as the Cons have managed to triangulate and consolidate their power base.   But in the present context, it is a pill that must be swallowed.    Canada needs to join the rest of the free world that recognizes the principle of one person and one vote and that every vote does count.

Oh the possibilities ... but if such a merger is to be done, time is not the merger's friend.     It must be done thoughtfully but done quickly as well.

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Anonymous said...

So we toss out almost 150 years of our history because we lost two elections? Wow.

Meranda said...

This is dumb. Iggy and Jack have to go no matter what! Merge or no merger. That's not an argument!