Why coalitions rarely happen
The two main parties in Canadian federal politics, the Conservatives and the Liberals, maintain their images of power through singular identities.
Stand-alone leadership is what defines the Liberals and Conservatives as main parties.
Both main parties secretly fear joining coalitions because it dilutes their image as a main party.
Stephen Harper, as former Opposition leader, was all for creating a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois in 2004.
That was, until Paul Martin’s minority Liberals got caught red handed in the Quebec ad scam. The election then favoured the Conservatives, almost by default.
The three-member coalition of late November 2008 had the same arrangement of 2004, only with a shuffle of the two main parties.
This time around, the elected Conservatives, were contested by a coalition led by the Liberals.
Harper was reluctant to unite with the NDP and the Bloc in 2004 because it would have weakened the image of the Conservatives as a strong main party. The Conservatives would have wielded less leadership power in the coalition, having to share it with the NDP and the Bloc.
New Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff got cold feet when it came to committing to the coalition after the December 2008 prorogue.
The Liberals, under Ignatieff, saw the opportunity to rebuild their party and single-handedly take back the helm from the Conservatives in a next election.
The Liberal and Conservative parties do not like to share power with other parties. They weren’t built that way.
A partnership of the Liberals with the NDP, besides not being in the Liberal true interest, lacks a majority number of seats. This is why the Bloc is reluctantly welcomed in as a third party. The Bloc make up the remaining seats for an overthrow.
The Liberals and NDP would have to win more seats to form a ruling partnership. This would offer the Liberals even less incentive for shared leadership.
Joining the NDP on policies to get enough combined seats to potentially share power with the NDP. Instead of the warm fuzzy sharing feeling, the Liberal response would be one of indignation.
Big dogs want to be the big dog in the House. How does one House-train a big dog?
Ken Smith – Cornwall Ontario
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