Negotiating within a coalition – or why Liberals don't trust Jack

So the one thing I glossed over the other day about negotiating in coalitions is that you’d better have already completed your negotiations within your coalition. Reading Andrew Coyne’s blog (among others) suggests that this has not happened. This project seems to have been cooked up by Dion and foisted on the party and there are a few disgruntled MPs starting to emerge from the woodwork.

Toronto MP Jim Karygiannis said “a lot of my constituents” are saying Dion should go. He also complained that MPs had been kept out of the loop on the coalition negotiations.

Just add this on to the further stresses for the coalition. If this thing even begins to teeter, someone is going to have to wear this, and the blame game isn’t going to be pretty.

Another big problem is Jack Layton. Interestingly I think a lot of Liberals are more wary of working with Jack than with Gilles Duceppe. Gilles intentions are always very clear – he’ll do whatever is in Quebec’s interests. Layton’s motivation and history is a little more shaky. Take, for example, that Layton never had to wear the fact that he got us all into this mess three years ago when he helped bring down Paul Martin’s government.

Here was a man who was getting the goodies he wanted added to the budget and yet voted against the Liberals so that he could what… win an extra dozen seats in the house? Layton has had his opportunity to work with Liberals to advance his agenda and he instead opted to give the Conservatives the opportunity they were craving. I suspect the trust threshold between most Liberals and the NDP leadership is so low that it will take real skill to sustain a working partnership.

Again, a common threat can bring people together, but as the threat recedes (the conservatives lose power, or even more intriguing, Harper is forced to resign) then the capacity to work together becomes more important. Canadian political parties have never invested much in this capacity… can they make it work now?

9 thoughts on “Negotiating within a coalition – or why Liberals don't trust Jack

  1. jaybird

    Sweet mother of god…NDP and Liberals are both political parties and both have the goal of achieving electoral success sufficient enough to form government. The NDP was willing to work with Martin but HE was unwilling to set aside or downgrade his corporate tax cuts to work on health care which was a priority for the NDP.The NDP DID NOT make the LIbs lose that election. The Canadian people didn't like the merchandise the LPC had in the window and didn't buy. The NDP to date has only had sufficient members to be a partner not the leader in these kinds of minority government situations. Just like today, the past partnership was based on the idea of compromise by both but unlike today there was no clear framework written and agreed upon. The NDP had not committed to continue the partnership until a given time. It was a partnership that was on a case by case basis.The NDP will live up to its agreement should this coalition be granted the opportunity to govern. This kind of insulting, tired rhetoric from some LIberal supporters, not withstanding.

    Reply
  2. Brenton

    The NDP did not have a responsibility of keeping the Martin government in power. In a minority government, the lead party has the responsibility of finding enough support to sustain itself. If it can't, it falls, simple as that.

    Reply
  3. Albertan

    Frankly after Dion's AWFUL performance last night, I'm ready to make Jack PM until we get a new leader. Someone has to sell this coalition to the Canadian people, and Dion's office just ain't doing it.

    Reply
  4. jaybird

    Sweet mother of god…NDP and Liberals are both political parties and both have the goal of achieving electoral success sufficient enough to form government. The NDP was willing to work with Martin but HE was unwilling to set aside or downgrade his corporate tax cuts to work on health care which was a priority for the NDP.The NDP DID NOT make the LIbs lose that election. The Canadian people didn't like the merchandise the LPC had in the window and didn't buy. The NDP to date has only had sufficient members to be a partner not the leader in these kinds of minority government situations. Just like today, the past partnership was based on the idea of compromise by both but unlike today there was no clear framework written and agreed upon. The NDP had not committed to continue the partnership until a given time. It was a partnership that was on a case by case basis.The NDP will live up to its agreement should this coalition be granted the opportunity to govern. This kind of insulting, tired rhetoric from some LIberal supporters, not withstanding.

    Reply
  5. david_a_eaves

    Hi Brenton,No dispute about that fact, indeed that's my point. I think many liberals (especially those in caucus) believe Layton prefered helping bring the Conservatives than support a government that was significantly more progressive than what would emerge.Moreover, if corporate tax cuts were such a deal breaker why was Layton willing to abandon them this time around? They aren't part of the coalition's policy agreement.This is, of course all moot. After today's decision by the GG I think the notion of a coalition is likely done. The opposition should simply issue a simple demand in response: there must be a stimulus package and Harper must resign or the coalition is back on the table.A Liberal leadership candidate with that message will likely win much rank and file and caucus support.

    Reply
  6. Brenton

    The NDP did not have a responsibility of keeping the Martin government in power. In a minority government, the lead party has the responsibility of finding enough support to sustain itself. If it can't, it falls, simple as that.

    Reply
  7. Albertan

    Frankly after Dion's AWFUL performance last night, I'm ready to make Jack PM until we get a new leader. Someone has to sell this coalition to the Canadian people, and Dion's office just ain't doing it.

    Reply

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