Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Pat Martin beating the merger drum again
OTTAWA — Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin says he is preparing to ramp up his demands for a merger or official co-operation between the NDP and the Liberal Party of Canada.
At the outset of the NDP leadership race, Martin said he would only support a candidate who pledged to co-operate or merge with the Liberals, as a united centre-left movement to defeat the Conservatives. He even went as far as to say he'd run for the leadership himself if no such candidate were to emerge.
Thus far, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen is the only one who has really even opened the door to co-operation. Cullen has proposed the Liberals and NDP and possibly the Green Party hold joint nominations to field just one candidate in Conservative-held ridings. He has ruled out a full merger saying it's too difficult.
It appears he may be nearing the critical halfway point in support for his demands. An Ipsos-Reid poll for Postmedia News released Monday shows 44 per cent of NDP supporters and 41 per cent of Liberal supporters like the idea of a merger. Overall, 40 per cent of Canadians back the idea.
The Ipsos news release suggests these numbers are high enough that a leadership contender for either party could use the issue to garner support. But it's noteworthy more than half the supporters of both parties are not supportive of a merger, with 31 per cent of NDP backers and 29 per cent of Liberal backers strongly against the idea.
The poll was conducted by phone of 1,000 Canadians on Nov. 8-9. It is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points.
At least two NDP leadership candidates, NDP president Brian Topp and Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair, have firmly ruled out a merger ahead of the next election. Topp kept the door open to co-operating with the Liberals in the event of another minority government.
(Mia Rabson. "Manitoba NDP MP to increase pressure for deal with Liberals". Vancouver Sun.)
All in all, I'm skeptical of the prospects of merger. A lot of people look at the "Unite the Right" phenomena and think that it guaranteed Harper his Conservative governments. It didn't, the support for the united Conservative Party of Canada still wasn't enough to topple the Liberal government (and the support for the new Conservative Party was initially less than the sum of the support for the PCs and Alliance). The SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL was what opened the door to the Harper Government™. A lot of people seem to forget just how big a deal that was back in the mid-2000s.
Some form of cooperation - especially when in the House of Commons - seems reasonable and necessary for developing a healthy multi-party democracy, but I revel at the thought of restricting choices for voters at the riding level.
All in all, what are the prospects for the Opposition? With a litany of minor scandals (most of which were done when Harper was in a Minority government) it's only a matter of time before the Harper Government™ does something colossally stupid. Coupled with the ever present danger of a second dip in the global economy, the Conservatives don't look too good five years from now.