View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Iggy’s Clever Twist of a Word – March 27, 2011

Ottawa ON – An interesting choice of words from the Liberal leader, but people who follow politics know that politicians chose their words very carefully. That one sentence allows Ignatieff considerable wiggle room should he wish to form a government with the support of either the NDP or the Bloc or both.

“I will not seek a coalition” does not mean “I won’t support a coalition” like Ignatieff did in 2008, even going so far as to sign a letter confirming he did.

Ignatieff’s choice of words will also allow him to respond to a coalition offer from the NDP. Voters may recall that it was the NDP, not the Liberals, who were the ones that initiated the coalition discussion last time. Ignatieff saying that he will not seek a coalition is accurate if he is responding to an NDP request. I didn’t hear him say “I will rebuff any attempts or offers to form a coalition”.

“I will not seek a coalition” also permits Ignatieff room to work out a nonaggression pact with the NDP or Bloc that would be similar to the one the Peterson Liberals negotiated with the NDP in Ontario. Such an agreement would allow Ignatieff to be Prime Minister without the necessity of offering MPs from another party some cabinet seats. I didn’t hear Ignatieff say that he will not enter into any agreement, written or verbal such as a nonaggression pact to form a government should the Conservatives fall short of a majority. Incidentally, the Peterson agreement was worked out with Bob Rae, Ignatieff’s potential successor should Ignatieff step down after losing the election. Ignatieff’s words would not prevent Rae from forming a coalition.

The Liberals are desperate to get back into power. Ignatieff is far from being a strong leader with a vice-like grip on his party’s MPs and political apparatus. Just how long do you think it would be before Ignatieff bowed to internal pressure to make a deal at any cost to try to form a government? His option would be to eat his words and be Prime Minister or face a party revolt.

Ignatieff chose his words very carefully and for good reason, he still has plenty of wiggle room to cut a deal.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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  1. The Con-Cons (contemptuous conservatives) sure have short memory when it comes to forming coalitions but long when it comes to attacking someones ancestors. Bev Oda didn’t have to opportunity to insert a “not” in the letter from Steven Harper to the Bloc suggesting they form a coalition government to replace the minority Liberal government.

  2. Coalition governments are legal in Canada as they are in the UK. Even Harper agreed with this until it can be used against him.

  3. Choice of words: “The Liberals are desperate to get back into power.”

    Correction: the democratic opposition parties, including the Liberals, are bent on getting the anti-democratic Harperite usurpers out of power.

  4. I don’t care…I would rather have a coalition government than give Harper and his weasels another kick at the can…

  5. Interestingly enough, Michael Ignatieff (Liberal) said “I will not seek a coalition”. Someone told me that they heard on CFRA (Ottawa) Lowell Green show that a coalition agreement was signed previously and it runs out sometime in July 2011. If that is so then it’s true what he says. The clever twist of a word would be construed as a lie if the agreement exists presently.

  6. It would appear the media has already placed an idea in the minds of people which truly holds no merit in an election.

    Should we not be asking and pushing for what they plan to do tomorrow and not something that sounds like a school yard arguments over who did what?
    Who really cares what happened regarding a coalition discussion in the past? This is nothing more then a redirect to confuse voters away from the real issues. In previous elections it was blatant smear campaigns now it is semantics based on the he said she said scenario.

    The allegations that Mr. Harper was in contempt of parliament for failure to fully disclose financial details of his anti-crime legislation, corporate tax cuts and plans to buy 65 American-made stealth fighter jets seems to be nothing more then well allegations. Has anyone seen any proof of these allegations being truthful? The Liberals are living in glass houses in the light of the sponsorship scandal as well.

    As for a coalition, could you imagine a Separatist (Duceppe), Socialist (Layton), and Slaver (Ignatieff) running the country. Why slaver you may ask. I suggest you read about Feudal Serfdom. Imagine Liberals opening up the purses spending the money as they have in the past, with total disregard and complete contempt for Canadians. In other words taxes will rise we will earn less and work longer. You must also consider the liberal ties to Quebec. Having Duceppe in bed with Ignatieff would definitely cost Canadians more money and only one province would prevail. The same province that costs the country billions in language issues yet they refuse to acknowledge English.

    Layton will unfortunately be left with his members blowing in the wind…again.

    Will there be any discussion about the recent budget that was voted out? Why was it voted out and if Iggy wins will he use the same budget? Maybe tweak it a bit to help the right people praise his party all the while we pay will pay more taxes to off set his additions?

    Layton has called Harper’s vision on health care Tim Horton’s health car or hall way care. Isn’t health care a provincial issue?? They may want more money for health care but will it really fix what is broken? Can anyone really tell us what the issue is with regards to health care? Personal experience shows it to be the people in the system. We have conveniently hidden the true faults in the word system itself. What is the system? It is those working in it.

    I guess we will have to wait and see, personally I hope the Liberals are defeated into humility and Iggy can return to teaching…

    Those that can do…do…those that can’t teach (I read this quote in another post and just had to use it)

  7. Author

    Smee our Healthcare issues are way beyond the ability of any partisan political effort. The entire system needs to be overhauled and elements pushed out completely.

    To me our health care system should be about making sure Canadians get the best care available at the best cost for Canadians. Too many lobbyists have turned this into a money making cash cow for Drug and Insurance companies.

  8. Excellent post Smee. I don’t agree with you, but excellent none the less.

  9. Health Care and Seniors Health Care must be a priority in this election. The Conservative and Liberals have talked about health care for over 10 years. Sadly, there talking has shut down hospitals throughout Canada. Unfortunately, it is something you only see when you are in need of medical care.

    My mother, who was in the care of the CCH, was left unattended, and had to sit in her own soiled garments due to lack of staff. Fortunately, my sister was able to assist my mother during her final
    months with us. That was almost 3 years ago.

    Lets fast forward to yesterday. My father, who has been hospitalized, was move out of a bed in one department of the CCH to the physiotherapy ward. I went in to visit him yesterday. They had no beds, so, they have him in a hallway, with a bell. His belongings were put in a garbage bag. This is his closet.
    So folks, if you are 40 or over, this is your fate. If this is the type of health care you wish for yourself or your parents, then vote for the Conservatives or Liberals. If you wish that your elderly parent can live their remaining years with dignity and respect, then at the very least, take a good hard look at the NDP. Layton knows, Layton cares, and so should you.
    Thank you all for taking the time to read this brief note.

  10. If there is going to be a coaltion, I think voters should get a chance to vote on a ballot question, not three leaders choosing for us.

    Anyway, I want to hear about health care, immigration, refugee, language fairness, less tax and less government. Rules, regulations and laws are taking over our lives…..and are a big adminstration cost.

  11. willie
    health care is provincial not federal.

  12. smee, then we should dissolve Health Canada. You seemed to miss my point. but, that’s ok. I wish you good health, we will all need it.

  13. On September 11, 2000, First Ministers agreed that “improvements to primary health care are crucial to the renewal of health services” and highlighted the importance of multi-disciplinary teams. In response to this agreement, the Government of Canada established the $800M Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF).

    Over a six-year period (2000-2006), the PHCTF supported provinces and territories in their efforts to reform the primary health care system. Specifically, it provided support for the transitional costs associated with introducing new approaches to primary health care delivery. In addition to direct support to individual provinces and territories, the PHCTF also supported various pan-Canadian initiatives to address common barriers, and offered the opportunity for participation by health care system stakeholders. Although the PHCTF itself was time-limited, the changes which it supported are intended to have a lasting and sustainable impact on the health care system.

    Collaboration among federal, provincial, and territorial governments was a key element of the PHCTF. An intergovernmental advisory group, with representation from all jurisdictions, provided advice on fund design and project selection from the outset and played an active role throughout the lifespan of the PHCTF. All governmen ts agreed to the five common objectives of the PHCTF. All initiatives had to support at least one of these objectives.
    Funding Envelopes

    The PHCTF consisted of five funding envelopes.

    * Provincial/Territorial
    * Multi-jurisdictional
    * National
    * Aboriginal
    * Official Languages Minority Communities


    The provincial/territorial envelope directly supported provinces and territories in their primary health care reform activities. Funds were allocated on a per capita basis, and smaller jurisdictions (Prince Edward Island and the three northern territories) received an additional $4M each to ensure sufficient funding for initiatives on a significant and sustainable scale.

    Initiatives were negotiated on a bilateral basis between each province or territory and the federal government, based on the unique circumstances of each jurisdiction and the common objectives of the PHCTF. All other PHCTF-funded activities complemented provincial and territorial activities.

    From Health Canada web page.

  14. willie you missed my point, the issues at CCH are local and provincial.

    Health Canada’s Mandate, it says nothong about running a system only that it will provde and support one.

    Health Canada’s mandate is to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. Among other activities, Health Canada’s responsibilities for health care include setting and administering national principles for the health care system through the Canada Health Act and delivering health care services to specific groups (e.g., First Nations and Inuit). Working in partnership with provinces and territories, Health Canada also supports the health care system through initiatives in areas such as health human resources planning, adoption of new technologies and primary health care delivery.

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