Remember when Michael Ignatieff turned himself into a pretzel while trying to respond to the simple question whether he would or would not enter into a coalition with other parties if the Tories did not get a majority?
It seemed that every day he had another answer, with the latest one depending on how exactly Stephen Harper jerked his puppet strings.
Many prominent Liberal and NDP politicians run for the hills when someone mentions a possible coalition. They seem to think that voters are idiots, who can be fooled into thinking nobody is prepared to join a coalition, and that the issue of what to do if the Tories do not form a majority government can be addressed AFTER the election.
It's as if these politicians don't want to talk about Uncle Joe's alcoholic binging until he actually stumbles and falls flat on his face at the family gathering. Maybe if we don't talk about it then it won't exist ...
Now along comes the one person to have thoroughly shaken up the NDP race for leader, and he not only talks about it, but explains why it is necessary to stop pretending that coalitions are not some devil's spawn, hatched by anti-Harper satans, but a realistic, moral and legal way of governing western democracies.
Congratulations to Nathan Cullen for grasping this nettle in such a clear way:
NDP leadership contender Nathan Cullen says his party should elect joint candidates with the Liberals and Green party in the next election and not hesitate to tell voters during the campaign that it is prepared to form a coalition government in the next Parliament.
Cullen, who outlined his plan in an interview with Postmedia News, is the wild card in the NDP leadership race — an energetic candidate who seems to be gaining momentum in the final days of the marathon...
But this time, said Cullen, things would be different.
"It wouldn't be a Tory minority government. They wouldn't form government. They would try."
Cullen isn't shy about what he has in mind.
"If the explicit question is put to me: Am I willing to work with the Liberal party in a coalition government, then yes. I was last time."
Moreover, he said the parties should make it clear while they are seeking votes from Canadians that a coalition is a "possible scenario."
"Here is the challenge that we cannot avoid. It is that you can't say the Liberal party are evil incarnate or the worst things ever before an election but we're willing to work with those same people after. It's discordant. It doesn't sit right, particularly with progressive voters."
And for explaining why we need to start talking about a coalition now, not some time after the writ is dropped:
"In the next election, the stakes are incredibly high for the country."
If the Tories are returned to office with another majority, said Cullen, the consequences would be grave and long-lasting — from foreign affairs, to the environment, to public pensions.
"You will have validated those things that they have just done. The country will put their blessing on it. And for some of the issues that I deeply care about, I think everything is on the table. Public broadcasters, public health care, the very role of government."
And so, said Cullen, special circumstances require special action.
The Cat is crossing his fingers and hoping that Nathan Cullen is elected leader of the NDP come Saturday night.There might be hope for our democracy if that happens.