Unfortunately, Hebert has set up a straw man, and then proceeded to demolish it.
Her argument has many merits but really ignores what the Cullen Plan sets out. She has this to say:
If he were elected leader, Cullen would pursue a non-aggression pact with the Greens and the Liberals with the objective of cobbling a common progressive front against the Conservatives in the 2015 campaign...
To avoid splitting the opposition vote, the three parties would strive to run a single candidate against the 166 government incumbents.Cullen’s scheme would have the New Democrats, the Greens and the Liberals compete for the privilege of running a progressive candidate from their own ranks in almost 200 ridings (including the ones that would result from the upcoming redistribution).
The Cullen Plan does not suggest what Hebert says it does. It's practicality lies in the fact that it targets a far more limited number of Tory held seats: those where such electoral cooperation might result in unseating the sitting Tory MP.
This is what the Cullen Plan deals with (my redlining):
NDP leadership contender Nathan Cullen wants New Democrats to join forces with Liberals and Greens in some ridings to defeat Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
The British Columbia MP proposed Tuesday that his party enter into non-compete deals with other "progressive" parties in some Tory-held ridings.
Cullen said he doesn't support a full-blown merger with the struggling Liberals.But he said co-operation is necessary to ensure defeat of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
"I have no problem going up against Stephen Harper one on one," Cullen told a news conference."This just makes it a slam dunk."
Under Cullen's proposal, the NDP would identify ridings where the Tories could be beaten if so-called progressive parties united behind a single candidate.
New Democrats in those ridings would be asked to decide whether they want to run a joint candidate.
Cullen made it clear he wouldn't expect the NDP to unilaterally disarm; his scheme would only work if other parties agreed to participate in joint nominations of candidates.
He challenged the NDP and other parties to put down their "bayonets for a moment in order to get something larger than ourselves accomplished."
That is a much smaller number of Tory ridings, and a much less ambitious plan than Hebert is saying Cullen is aiming at.
And because it is to focused, it is far more likely to be adopted by the three parties than if it was the ambitious plan that Hebert says it is.
Right now, there are 21 ridings where the Tory MP won by a margin of 5% or less of the votes. Turfing a Tory MP out of these ridings would reduce the Tories to a minority government come 2015, as Walkom understood when he examined Cullen's plan.
The key to the Cullen Plan is its tight focus on what is doable. This minimizes the cooperation of the opposition party members to some two dozen ridings instead of the 166 held by the Tories right now.
And that makes the plan small enough to avoid internal agonizing over a quasi-merger.
Hebert is right to say that if the Cullen Plan aims at ALL the Tory held seats, it is the equivalent of a merger through the back door, and really problematic. I share that view – such a large plan with such a large target is DOA given the cultural differences between the parties right now.