Are the Liberals losing the Progressive Primary?

Are the Liberals in trouble? Recent developments—including not only the recent NDP win in Alberta, but also the continuing opposition to Bill C51—suggest it’s a question worth asking, as does a new poll putting the NDP in first place.

In Canada’s present federal political configuration, dating from the emergence of a united Conservative alternative, it is convenient (if oversimplistic) to think of Canadian politics as consisting of two simultaneous competitions: the progressive primary and the main event. That dual campaign gives contemporary Canadian federal party politics much of its character.

With the Conservatives apparently able to capture a sturdy but limited 30-40% share of the vote, a big win in the progressive primary is a necessary prerequisite for either the Liberals or the NDP to have a shot at winning an election. That is, one or the other must convince progressives who dislike the incumbent that they stand the better chance of unseating them. If neither does so decisively, Continue reading

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Op-ed: Hey, stop hating on coalition governments!

The idea of coalition government has taken a beating recent years in Canada. The most recent example of the form comes courtesy of Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak, who said they are not good for voters. From the Globe and Mail:

“I do hope that Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath will stop all this coalition talk,” he said outside the polling station. “Voters don’t like that. It might be good for politicians, it’s not good for the province. I say no to coalitions. And I hope that Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath will stop this game and be equally clear.”

Talk that delegitimizes coalition government has long been a pet peeve of mine, so I fired off a response in the Ottawa Citizen. Among other things, it says:

The problem is such talk shapes opinions. Over time, if repeated often enough, they create a reality of their own. While uncommon in Canada, coalitions are a perfectly legitimate and potentially useful form of government, one seen now and then in most other Westminster-style parliaments.

If enough politicians claim that they’re illegitimate, however, Ontarians — and Canadians, since this debate occurs at the federal level as well — may come to accept it as fact, effectively taking off the table a potentially useful form of government in times of political uncertainty.

You can read it all here.