This was written 11 days before the election – before the dramatic surge of Jack Layton and the New Democrats that nobody, including the writer, naturally to his possible embarrassment, foresaw. Whether that surge will prove water on the desert’s dusty face, or a historical revolt by voters deeply disenchanted with the two parties that have taken turns running Canada since 1867, the writer won’t predict at this moment – Sunday afternoon, May 1, 2011. If the following more or less holds up, of course he will say “told you so.”
So what do you think of the second, third and fourth runners-up sharing the Stanley Cup?
Each non-winner’s rink placing it in its foyer for four months a year, I guess.
The fourth would logically be assigned summer when its rink is unused, unless it could pout, bitch, threaten to leave the NHL, and thus negotiate a better time.
Not that I mean to elevate the current federal election to the importance of hockey.
Even less to raise the profile of Craig McInnes, one of the earnest, competent Vancouver Sun columnists few readers could identify, well below the paper’s excellent top tier of opinion-mongers.
The headline over his April 21 column is: “When did compromise become a dirty word?” What journalistic folk call the drop head reads: “ ‘Coalition of losers’ is a legitimate path to majority rule because it would represent the electoral choice of most Canadian voters”. McInnes makes the case for a coalition of Liberals, New Democrats (getting a bit long in the tooth for that “new” tag, isn’t it?) and the Bloc Quebecois, if the Conservatives don’t get a parliamentary majority in the election that Canadians panted to have.
He’s the “Good Citizen McInnes”, like the fictional “Good Soldier Schweik”, who obediently followed orders to the letter and thus screwed up the cause. Yes, precisely following “the constitution and parliamentary traditions” would serve the constitution and parliamentary traditions. But would the coalition by any euphemism – and Michael Ignatieff would turn the language inside-out to drop the word “coalition” into the deepest linguistic black hole – serve Canada and Canadians?
Not as long as the “traditions” include the bag-of-hammers dumbness of a Canadian government relying on the prop of a separatist party dedicated to destroying the Canadian government, certainly as we know it. But for some Canadians, the variety who resemble the description of a man so liberally open-minded that he won’t defend his own ideas, better to let the country dissolve than to disobey the rules and tradition. Especially if it serves the visceral hatred of the word conservative, of small or capital-C characteristic.
Before continuing my nakedly pro-Conservative, brazenly anti-Iggy, crudely anti-Bloc rant, the present writer draws attention to the observation that McInnes is not a lonely voice. On March 29 the once-grey, now jazzy Globe and Mail of Toronto, under the heading “A curious attack on majority rule”, editorially sneered at Stephen Harper’s early and repeated insistence that it would be undemocratic if the Conservatives failed (again) to win a majority, lost (again) a confidence vote on their budget, and the Liberals generously offered and were granted the formation of a coalition government.
Plodding through their argument, the Front Street sages then incautiously wind up their pitch – and I roll out rare italics to underline their touching trust in any politician’s pronunciamentos: “The whole thing is a charade, anyway. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has stated flatly that his party will not be part of a coalition.” The Globe has been around for more than a century and a half, and its editorial board accepts at face value the I-swear-on-my-mother’s-grave pledges of a politician, above all a Liberal, courting the votes of the citizenry?
It smarts to those of us in the grand business of print that an anchor for this upstart television gadget, Peter Mansbridge, partly smoked out Ignatieff on his coalition subterfuges. To reveal even one fork in the Ignatieff tongue was a good night’s work.
More recently, and realistically, Adam Radwanski opined on the Globe’s front page that Ignatieff had “breathed life” into Harper’s warning of an anti-Harper coalition, and noted, in so many words, that Iggy hadn’t provided the fine print on his box of political Cheerios.
If Slick Iggy manipulates his way to 23 Sussex Drive, exploiting Canadian political peculiarities and throwing a bone to separatist Gilles Duceppe, or, as I fondly call him, The Fart from Quebec, and another bone to Jack Layton, whose limp uncannily reflects his party’s electoral success since the New Democrats were fashioned from the old socialists – that would prove what Canadians want. That’s the McInnis thesis.
Wrong. The only proof that Canadians yearn for this back-kitchen political stew would be if the three cooked up an open deal and confronted the Conservatives and Canadian voters with a single alternative party. The Bliberalcats, or something. Who are not on the May 2 ballot.
“When did compromise become a dirty word?” asks the Sun headline, I remind you? When it’s a deal with the Devil, or any power-sharing that involves The Fart from Quebec.
© Trevor Lautens, 2011