Government by The Progressive Majority

Posted on April 20, 2011


We’re less than two weeks away from the end of the campaign, and it’s been a long, tiring, frustrating slog through the political mud. Straight out the gate, we saw Harper release a racist campaign ad and Michael Ignatieff rule out the only plausible means of replacing the Harper government. Then we fought, and lost, a battle against the anti-democrats at the Media Consortium over proper representation in the leaders’ debates. During those debates, we saw Layton strengthen Harper by taking pot-shots at Ignatieff. And through the whole thing, we’ve seen Conservative support hold steady despite the fact that their government is the first on Earth to be held in contempt of parliament, and their leader insists on running his campaign in a bubble. It’s enough to make a progressive break down and cry. But I am pleased to announce that there will be no weeping out of me for at least another few days, because we have two pieces of very, very good news.

The first bit of good news: Both the Liberals and the NDP are pulling ahead in the polls! According to this reliable projection, the Liberals, stand to increase their seat count to eighty. The NDP stand to win thirty-five seats, which is also a big improvement. While Conservative support is holding firm, it is being concentrated in the West, where it is mostly wasted on uncontested ridings. This is leaving Ontario and Quebec open to the Liberals and NDP.

The second bit of good news: Michael Ignatieff has suggested that he might seek the confidence of the House even if he does not win a plurality of seats! He is still ruling out a coalition, but check out this quote from his recent interview with Peter Mansbridge:

“If [Conservative Leader Stephen] Harper wins the most seats and forms a government but does not secure the confidence of the House, and I’m assuming Parliament comes back, then it goes to the Governor-General. That’s what happens. That’s how the rules work.

And then, if the Governor-General wants to call on other parties – or myself, for example – to try and form a government, then we try and form a government. That’s exactly how the rules work and what I’m trying to say to Canadians is I understand the rules, I respect the rules, I’ll follow them to the letter and I’m not going to form a coalition,”

This isn’t exactly a commitment to defeat a Harper plurality, but it’s a start. It sounds even better when you consider Jack Layton’s recent comments on what would happen if Stephen Harper can’t win the confidence of the house:

“Some other party gets a shot at it. We shouldn’t immediately go back to an election; that would be ridiculous”

Isn’t that just music to your ears? If you combine the opposition parties’ recent gains with their stated willingness to work together, then the defeat of a Harper plurality begins to enter the realm of possibility.

But we’re not done yet. If this is going to actually happen, then we’re going to have to work to bring it about. Within the next day, the Conservatives will release an attack ad scaremongering over Ignatieff’s comments. Stephen Harper will continue to warn about a coalition of losers at all his campaign stops. This needs to be met with a vigorous defense. The progressive majority of Canada has to firmly state its support for a government that respects Canadian democracy, and implements progressive policy based on facts. We need to make it clear that a coalition is not a back-room power grab, but is an entirely legitimate way for a divided majority to govern the country. We need to re-claim the word ‘coalition’, and turn it from something scary into something positive. So get on twitter and facebook and argue our case. Comment on news stories. Sign this petition. Spread the word about We need a strong, positive meme campaign to counter the inevitable negative backlash we will see from the Conservatives over Ignatieff’s interview.

We have a government to defeat.