Friday, September 11, 2009

Ignatieff Rules out Coalition in Smart Move

Today Ignatieff unequivocally ruled out the substance of the ubiquitous Conservative attack that if they do not obtain a majority, the Liberals will form a coalition government. This was the right move. It has negated as much as possible the Conservatives' most potent fear-mongering strategy for this election.

We saw in the surreptitiously recorded video of the Prime Minister practicing his stump speech that this would be the greatest Conservative attack. We saw to what extent Harper is willing to believe in a coalition. He says that the opposition parties will deny this until they are blue in the face, and subsequently form one anyway. We have seen instead that Stephen Harper will yell himself blue in the face about a coalition until he is blue in the face.

If the polls last December are any good indication, this was promising line of attack. Significant sections of the country were outraged at the possibility of a coalition, deeming it an unseemly power grab. However, now that Ignatieff has strongly denied it, this attack is much less potent.

Especially as Ignatieff can point, and did point, to his refusal of the coalition deal when he assumed the leadership of the LPC. No matter what the Conservatives throw at him, it is a strong piece of evidence.

So far what the Conservatives have mustered against this refusal is a quote from Ignatieff last December: "prepared to form a coalition government and to lead that government." At the time, Ignatieff could not have said anything different, lest he be seen, as deputy leader no less, as opposing his leader.

His actions after he became leader surely speak volumes more, as he at that point had actual control over the party's policy on this issue. What's more, as he reminded Canadians, successful minority governments have operated at the federal level without a coalition. In fact, a less successful government led by Stephen Harper has survived almost four years without entering into a coalition.

Ignatieff's stark denunciation of a coalition was necessary, albeit damaging to the public's perception of a perfectly valid notion. However, what Ignatieff did was necessary. Without it, he would have been highly vulnerable to Harper's baseless attacks. And we all know what happens when you are vulnerable to Harper's baseless attacks. You lose the election.
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  1. Actually, he only ruled out a coalition if he won a minority government.

    ''...However, when asked whether he excluded a coalition with the opposition parties if the result of an election were another Conservative minority, Ignatieff called it a hypothetical question he didn't "like."

    In French, he said he would seek to form a "good Liberal government, a government of the centre that looks for honourable compromises, that looks to inspire Canadians and to unite them."

  2. "In January we did not support a coalition and we do not support a coalition today or tomorrow,"

    He did answer the scenario of Conservative minority that way, but it would be impossible to square Ignatieff forming a government in such conditions with the above statement.


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