Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Michael Den Tandt is wrong: Mulcair knows what a mess of pottage is

Den Tandt: Muclair cannot count
So, what will our next federal government look like? Today is the last day of the year 2014, and most commentators have hidden their heads in the sand rather than venture a public guess.

Michael Den Tandt is one of the braver ones.

In an article in the National Post he forecasts a minority government for Stephen Harper, without any attempt by the two opposition parties – which combined will have more MPs than the Tory minority government – to vote him out in a no-confidence vote.

Den Tandt believes that Harper will survive for at least 10 months (which means a new election if he is voted out then), because Mulcair will prop him up in return for “concessions”.

This is Den Tandt’s forecast:


“The reason is simply that the current crop of New Democrats and Liberals viscerally dislike and mistrust each other … Given his druthers, Mr. Mulcair will be inclined to keep Mr. Harper in power, with concessions, rather than allow Mr. Trudeau to road-test himself as prime minister.”

Den Tandt then sees leadership bids being prepared within the Conservative and NDP parties, but not within the Liberal Party.

I don’t think this gives Mulcair enough credit for strategic thinking.

Mulcair only has to look to what happened with the LibDems in the UK, and with Horwath’s NDP in Ontario, to have second thoughts about supporting Harper for a mess of pottage.

It is clear to even the most obtuse observer that Horwath blew it big time when she cooperated with the provincial Tories to bring down the Liberal Government. She did not gain power; nor did she improve the position of the NDP. Instead, the NDP lost its power of voting for the Liberals in return for meaninglful concessions, and has been relegated to the backwaters of Ontario politics. She will most likely go down in history as a seldom-noticed footnote.

As for the LibDems in the UK, they bargained for concessions from Cameron’s Conservatives that really amounted to very little, and neglected to nail down the one thing that really mattered: electoral reform to strengthen their party.

Mulcair can count.

And he knows very well that as long as the first past the post voting system is our way of electing our MPs, then a party can gain power with less than 40% of the vote and can stay in government.

Mulcair’s other example of short-term thinking resulting in illusory gains is that of Jack Layton’s pact with the devil: his bringing down of the Martin-led Liberal government. This resulted in Harper gaining power, and we’ve seen the results for Canada: a retreat into Luddite-like nostalgia, and vicious attacks on our democratic rights.

Mulcair will have learned from these examples. If he does a Layton, or does a Horwath, he will be brushed aside by angry Dippers when his pact with Harper shows little return.

But he stands to gain a step-change in the power equation in Canada, which will forever benefit those who support the NDP at the polls.

It is within Mulcair’s grasp to change the FPTP system of electing our MPs into a more democratic one, involving some form of modified proportional representation.

Such a change will mean that a party such as the NDP will definitely play a major role in all future decisions by any minority government. The Conservatives will most likely remain in minority territory under such a system, as will the Liberal Party (at least for the foreseeable future).

This means the advent of cooperative, reasoned governance in our country, replacing the mean-spirited, divide-and-conquer governance that is the Harper legacy.

I do not expect Mulcair to fail, as Horwath did; I expect him to take advantage of a minority government and go for a game-changing alteration of our political contours.

That way he will not only make history, but be able to exert pressure to gain meaningful policies for his party’s supporters.

We will soon see if Den Tandt is right, or if The Cat is right.



2 comments :

  1. However, how can Mulcair get a MMP electoral system in place?

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  2. He can make a meaningful commitment to electoral reform a condition of his support. And the Liberals have already supported a STV ballot, so they're open to it and with a single Conservative party now as opposed to the 90's with PC & Reform, supporting it is in their own self-interest. And if Michael Del Tandt thinks that either the Liberals or New Democrats would stand for leaving Harper running the show after the crap he's pulled over the last 10 years, what Michael Del Tandt knows about politics couldn't fill a shot glass (which, reading his past "work" is clearly the case.) The Liberals aren't about to let the Conservatives try to reinvent themselves under a less despised leader, and if Mulcair announced to his caucus room that he was going to leave Harper in power rather than co-operate to remove him and gain concessions in the process, he might not leave the room alive.

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