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Canada Needs A Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition

By Stuart Hertzog
November 2nd, 2008

A tripartite LNG coalition can succeed even without the Bloc Québéois, according to this political observer

by John Ryan

Four-colour maple leafWinnipeg, Manitoba — Canada’s last two elections are proof positive that we have a flawed electoral system. Does it make any sense that it’s impossible to get a government that reflects the views of the majority of our population? How is it that a little more than a third of the electorate can determine who forms Canada’s government?

There is no question that Canada has a dysfunctional political system in which the views of the majority of Canadians cannot be represented by a single political party. Although almost two-thirds of Canada’s voters in the last two elections opposed the platform, policies, and philosophy of the Conservative party, it is the Conservatives who have formed the government. The majority vote was split amongst four parties, thereby thwarting the predominant will of the people and making a mockery of democracy. And this may very well continue into the future.

If the NDP and the Greens keep getting progressively stronger, it will guarantee a split vote, resulting in an unending series of Conservative governments. Moreover, if Gilles Duceppe should retire it would weaken the Bloc Québécois and we would then get majority Conservative governments.

Before the next election

So what do we do? How do we get out of a system that seems to ensure an unending regime of Conservative governments – governments that do not have the support of the bulk of our population? In the best interests of Canada, it’s up to progressive-minded citizens to urge the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens to form a coalition. It will then be up to these parties to act responsibly, to set aside narrow partisan politics, and to establish a formal coalition. It’s only then that the majority of Canadians would be in a position to vote for a political entity that would reflect their views, values, and interests.

Coalitions are commonly formed after an election, but in Canada, at the present time, an agreement to form a coalition by the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens would have to be made before the next election. Because of the nature of the Bloc Quebecois, it would be difficult to include them in a coalition, and without them, after another election, the Conservatives would probably once again outnumber the Liberals and the NDP, as they did in 2006 and 2008. However, if a coalition of these parties could be established before the next election, a unique election strategy could be used that would have dramatically different results.

Coalition election strategy

In a coalition, the three parties would retain their individual identities, but would have to agree on a common platform or agenda, not on all matters, but only on some basic, fundamental issues. They would also have to agree on an election strategy, whenever an election might be called. The strategy should be a straightforward matter, and once agreed upon, it could be the driving force to hammer out a platform, and thereby create a coalition.

A meaningful election strategy, equally in the interest of all three parties, would be an agreement to run all the incumbent candidates, Liberal and NDP, without opposition from the other members of the coalition. Although the Greens have no elected members, it would nevertheless be in their interests to agree to this. Such a strategy would guarantee the reelection of every currently elected member. As for the Conservative and the Bloc Quebecois seats, it is my suggestion that the coalition should run a single candidate in each of these ridings from the party that had the largest vote in the 2008 election.

Province Liberal NDP Green
MPs New Total MPs New Total MPs New Total
BC 5 8 13 9 14 23 0 0 0
Alberta 0 8 8 1 16 17 0 3 3
Saskatchewan 1 1 2 0 12 12 0 0 0
Manitoba 1 4 5 4 5 9 0 0 0
Ontario 38 47 85 17 3 20 0 1 1
Quebec 14 54 68 1 6 7 0 0 0
New Brunswick 3 5 8 1 1 2 0 0 0
Nova Scotia 5 1 6 2 2 4 0 1 1
PEI 3 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Newfoundland & Labrador 6 0 6 1 0 1 0 0 0
NWT 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Nunavut 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yukon 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 77 130 207 37 59 96 0 0 5

Table 1: The number of Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition candidates for the next election. All Liberal and NDP MPs would be unopposed. In those ridings won by Conservatives or Bloc Québécois, Coalition candidates will be selected by the party with the largest vote in the 2008 election.

I have compiled a set of tables from Elections Canada data that provide the factual basis for a winning election strategy. Table 1 shows that in the next election the Liberals would be entitled to run 207 candidates, the NDP 96, and the Green Party 5. However, Table 2 is of greater consequence since it shows that in 59 ridings in the 2008 election the combined Liberal-NDP-Green vote exceeded the Conservative or the Bloc Quebecois vote. In the next election, a coalition candidate, from the party with the greatest vote, would have a strong likelihood of winning the seat. In this manner the Liberals could possibly win an extra 48 seats, the NDP nine seats, and the Green party, two.

Province Ridings Party with the most votes
Liberal NDP Green
British Columbia 8 4 4 0
Alberta 0 0 0 0
Saskatchewan 3 1 2 0
Manitoba 2 2 0 0
Ontario 29 27 1 1
Quebec 9 8 1 0
New Brunswick 4 4 0 0
Nova Scotia 2 0 1 1
PEI 1 1 0 0
Newfoundland & Labrador 0 0 0 0
NWT 0 0 0 0
Nunavut 1 1 0 0
Yukon 0 0 0 0
Total 59 48 9 2

Table 2: Federal ridings where the combined Liberal-NDP-Green vote exceeded the Conservative or Bloc Québéc vote in the 2008 election.

Table 3 (below) shows that in the next election, with this procedure the Liberals could win up to 125 seats, the NDP 46, and the Green Party two, for a majority coalition government of 173 seats. In such a coalition it would seem reasonable that cabinet seats would be determined by the proportionate share of members in the government, with 72 percent going to the Liberals, 27 percent to the NDP, and 1 percent to the Green Party. It would also seem reasonable that the leader of the NDP became the deputy prime minister.

Province Liberal NDP Green
MPs New Total MPs New Total MPs New Total
BC 5 4 9 9 4 13 0 0 0
Alberta 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Saskatchewan 1 1 2 0 2 2 0 0 0
Manitoba 1 2 3 4 0 4 0 0 0
Ontario 38 27 65 17 1 18 0 1 1
Quebec 14 8 22 1 1 2 0 0 0
New Brunswick 3 4 7 1 0 1 0 0 0
Nova Scotia 5 0 5 2 1 3 0 1 1
PEI 3 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Newfoundland & Labrador 6 0 6 1 0 1 0 0 0
NWT 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Nunavut 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yukon 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Totals 77 48 125 37 9 46 0 2 2

Table 3: The potential number of seats that could be won by a Liberal-NDP-Green Coalition. The 173 Coalition MPs elected would be 72 percent Liberal, 27 percent NDP, and one percent Green Party. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would be reduced to 94 seats and the Bloc to 41 seats, ruling out the possibility of a Conservative-Bloc coalition government.

Given this situation, in the next election the Conservatives could be reduced to 94 seats and the Bloc Quebecois to 41 – in both cases, roughly proportionate to their share of the vote. But the biggest winner of all would be the Canadian people – it would be democracy in action where the majority of the population would have a government that would reflect the beliefs, values and interests of the bulk of Canada’s people.

Tables 1, 2 and 3 graphically support the argument for a coalition and make such a conclusion almost self-evident. Surely a government of this type would be in the best interests of Canada and its people. But can the leadership of these parties rise above short-term partisan politics? At a time when our country desperately needs this, are they capable of becoming statesmen?

In the next article in this series, I will endeavour to answer that question. Meanwhile, public pressure could start to push them in the right direction.

The four-colour Maple Leaf


John RyanJohn Ryan, Ph.D., is a retired professor of geography and senior scholar at the University of Winnipeg, having taught there for 32 years. He has a Ph.D. in economic geography from McGill, and his research interests have involved him in travel to more than 50 countries. A combined version of this plus the subsequent article in this series is available online at Global Research, October 29, 2008.

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