Friday, May 28, 2010

Greens, NDP to merge; Layton and May step aside, with support of key Liberal defectors

Could you just imagine a headline like that? Only if you accept the fact that the federal Liberal party is finished as a viable political entity. It was this particular realization, coupled with Warren Kinsella's post earlier today, that got me thinking along these lines.

Michael Ignatieff, since wresting control of the Liberal Party of Canada a year ago, what have you accomplished? You raised some cash and bored people to tears at every lectern that would plug in a mic for you. Then last Autumn, you boldly stated you were going to challenge the PM in an election at the first opportunity. Then you backed down sheepishly and announced you would be hosting a fabulous thinkers' conference the following Spring.

Allow me to let you in on something (I pray you are sitting down): believe it or not, within hours of its closing, scarcely anyone in this country noticed your big ol' "thinkers conference" even took place. Your middling popularity perpetually wanes like the attention of students listening to a meandering lecture on the nuances of meaning in a post-modern world; their minds wandering as they wonder how their liberal education will ever help them land a meaningful job with hope of putting more than a bit of food on their families' tables.

Meanwhile you and your party are getting railroaded at every turn by a wily, unscrupulous opponent. Your brightest stars and best ideas are the equivalent of Ovechkins and Kovalchuks on otherwise directionless teams, fizzling out hopelessly when the time comes to put up or shut up. Not since Robert Stanfield has a major party been led by someone with such a mix of blandness and dubiously-principled mediocrity.

I hope it hasn't escaped your attention that, when lumped together, the Greens and the Dippers are the favoured option of more Canadians than your own party, historied and entrenched as it is. As a scholar, I trust you can see the significance of this. Tilt at your right-centre windmills all you want, but it isn't getting you anywhere (least of all, into 24 Sussex).

Jack Layton, dear Jack, please please, do go (yes, now). You have done a decent job making your party politically relevant again without completely selling the furniture. You and your party's members have been stalwart cage rattlers and fought the good fight (mostly). Alas, you have had your chance to get the country to trust you and it just hasn't happened. Face facts, Jack, and step aside to allow a fresh face to come forward that can inspire more than just your base.

Elizabeth May, dear Elizabeth, you have gallantly tried to unseat a nasty bit of work in Peter MacKay, and have sold out too easily in launching yourself across the country in search of that magic riding that can propel Canada's first GPC member into the HoC (oh, teehee, would that be you, personally ***blush***?), but this is starting to get ridiculous. No other candidate is helping the cause - if that is the true goal - except by providing more federal dollars to the party coffers just by being so hopelessly listed on the ballots of all the nation's ridings; and thus giving the local Harpercons an even better chance of coming up the middle to win those ridings without any real support. This strategy has sadly failed you and the Greens for two elections now, despite owning the moral high ground definitively. You are an eloquent and intelligent leader, but it just is not going to happen. Please understand this and step aside for a new leader to take hold of a new, merged party.

So who are the party backroomers with the courage, pull and good sense to will this sort of merger to happen? Which individual has the fire, moxie, charisma, wherewithal, smarts and financial backing to make a run of it in leading such a party?

Who will lead the United Progressive Party of Canada?

- 30 -


Anonymous said...

Count me in.

I suggest a 'Progressive Coalition' as opposed to a party that will further fragment things. We need to get as many people signing up with us and then leveraging that influence with all parties so that our message and platforms don't get watered down.

JimBobby said...

Good one, Scott. I've been floating a similar idea but with a Green - Liberal merger. Like your idea, the leaders would need to step aside.

In many ways, the NDP/Green merge makes more sense. The problem I see is with the "cornered animal" mentality of so many Dippers. There seems to be a persecution complex coupled with a degree of moral certitude - "we're right and everybody else is wrong" - that precludes cooperation. That said, I don't think it's an impossible dream.

Something ( well, one of a few things) that baffles me about the current climate is how little effort both NDP and LPC put in to trying to woo small-g and big-G voters. If one looks at the polls, it is fairly obvious that if one of those parties could win over a significant portion of Green supporters, they'd be in darn good shape. LPC with GPC support could beat the CPC, hands down. Of course, with anti-Earther Iggy at the helm, the Liberals have zero chance of winning over any GPC supporters.

Future leadership material in an NDP-GPC merger? Claude Genest? Paul Dewar? In an LPC-GPC merger? Gerard Kennedy? Martha Hall Findlay? Genest?

Regardless of mergers or coalitions, I think Layton and May are both on their way out as leaders. They've served well but it's definitely getting to be time for new blood. May has made the wrong choices in where to run and stands little chance of election in SGI. Guelph would have made sense but I suspect it was the fantasy of knocking down a CPC cabinet minister over running against a Liberal backbencher that was the deciding factor. She's too soft on the Liberals and blinded by Harper-hate. Three strikes will put her out, IMO.

Scott in Montreal said...

Hi JB,
I too have experienced that "cornered animal" effect from some hardcore Dippers, but someday soon, those folks will have to put some water in their wine. I also think many Libs and Dippers tend to look askance at Green supporters and would be wise to get past that.

There are lots of bright stars on the left flank of the LPC who might be viable leaders of such a merger, and bring a sizable chunk of current Liberal support with them. Some you mention here.

Ian said...

@JimBobby: Doesn't passing Bill C-311 the Climate Change Accountability Act through the House (for the second time, hopefully to pass the senate this time), count as an attempt to woo those (g/G)reen voters? Or how about tabling an environmental bill of rights or calling for offshore oil moratoriums? The NDP has been on all these fronts in the past few months (and continually for the past few years).

As for any United Progressive Party, it's not going to happen. The UK coalition was seen as an option near the end of an election campaign and was hashed out after the election. In politics 2+2 doesn't equal 4 - every NDP vote doesn't transfer to Liberals and every Liberal vote won't transfer to NDP (many would rather go Con).

Also, I still fail to see how Layton has majorly failed as a party leader. He's been the only leader besides Harper to drastically improve his seat count over the past few elections.

Simon said...

hi Scott... Welcome back !!! :)
Like you I dream of a United Progressive Party. But such is the state of partisanship on our side, I believe we first need to form a coalition.If we can learn that great old Canadian art of compromise, and learn to work together, then uniting our forces will be a lot easier.
I'm really too impatient to be a good incrementalist. But if I had to walk on my head to get rid of Harper I'm sure practice would make perfect... :)

Scott in Montreal said...

Hi Simon, it's nice to be missed and thanks for the compliment. I have been silently reading for a while (not big on blogging when I don't feel I have anything of particular import to add). But listening to Iggy blather on in Winnipeg last week led me to believe he is beyond hope. The Liberal brand in this province is almost completely finished, and we need some imagination now.

One thing no one seems to get is that a lot of federalists continually vote Bloq because the BQ MPs actually comport themselves very well, represent their constituents honourably and faithfully, and work hard in committees with less partisan bluster than the other parties.

Sudbury Steve said...

@Ian: I suppose that the Climate Change Accountability Act could be construed as an attempt to win small-g voters, but Greens have always seen through it: just another piece of theatre which is going to be ignored by the government. Good for what it's worth, but not worth much.

On the topic of mergers, I believe that the NDP and Greens are very far apart, and not just on the environment. One other place where it really matters: the economy. Too many Greens just won't buy into NDP economic policies; and the structure of the Greens economic policies just can't sit well with the Dippers. There's a big divide to overcome there. If the Greens are looking for a merge partner, it would have to be the Liberals, but Jim Bobby is right: Anti-Earth Iggy would have to go.

The Liberals still have a carbon tax in their policies, although Iggy says he won't run it (not sure if he would implement it). The NDP offers a cap-and-trade scheme which will put money into the hands of bankers, but which is probably what the Yanks are looking at, so likely it'll prove to be on the side of history. Unfortunately, it will do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gases.

Even though I can't help but feel compelled to contribute, all of this merger talk seems to be just gums flapping in the wind: it's not going to happen. Let's wait for an election call to consider coalitions. In the meantime, I just can't see anyone crawling into someont else's bed, even if it is fun to speculate what might happen if they do!

Scott in Montreal said...

@Sudbury Steve,
Thanks for weighing in. You make some cogent observations. The GPC and NDP do have differences in policy, but they are minor compared to those of the CPC. Waiting for an election in a first-past-the-post system is not an option, as the Cons can divide and conquer in dozens of ridings, benefitting only themselves. No coalition is possible without enough MPs elected. There needs to be a riding by riding approach to reduce the left-of-centre ballot choices. Either that or one of these parties (Libs, Dippers or Greens) suddenly finds their own spellbindingly messianic leader. I know which outcome I think is more likely.