I woke up with a start last night, vaguely disoriented and slightly upset. I'm pretty sure I was dreaming about the prospect of a Liberal/NDP/BQ coalition. And possibly a dancing wildebeast. It's not so much that I'm against a coalition government. It's that I don't really know what I think about a New Liberaquois Party calling the shots. And for me, that's a new and confusing feeling. I usually have an opinion about everything, no matter how misinformed and ridiculous it may be.
I'm no fan of Stephen Harper, and last week's economic update managed to be both tawdry politics and inept policy. No question, Parliament should exact some form of censure. I also don't think a coalition government is undemocratic. This is the Westminster system, folks. Power is more fluid than in a presidential system, and there is a lot of precedent for this kind of move. And, taken together, the New Liberaquois Party represents significantly more voters than the Conservative Minority
Unfortunately, I dislike all political parties equally, so the prospect of a 'progressive' coalition replacing Harper provides little comfort. I also think this kind of tumult is a bad idea going into a recession. As we've seen, the almighty market gets a little jumpy around words like "instability" and "Jack Layton". And it's pretty jumpy already.
As Adam Daifallah, one of Canada's more thoughtful conservative commentators, points out, a coalition government would short-circuit the Liberal Party's "wilderness years", a time of rebuilding and reflection it sorely needs in the wake of scandal and defeat. The Progressive Conservatives went through a similar process post-1993, and it worked wonders for their electability. Wilderness years are important to the Liberals, because Canada needs a solid Liberal Party. It's political mutability makes it a party of the center, which is the only logical position from which to govern a modern, cosmopolitan state. If the Libs take the reigns now, they do themselves- and the country- no favours.
All that aside, the biggest problem for me is the optics of this whole thing. A Stephane Dion-led, NDP-heavy coalition government is sure to enrage the Western provinces. That's a bad thing. Moreover, while I think a coalition government plays well within democratic rules, it will look to many like one party without a mandate to lead grabbing power, supported by another party with even less public approval to govern. This will feed a lot of animosity and cynicism about our political system. It may also tick off a good number of moderates and independents, who may in turn grant Harper an actual majority government out of spite. A coalition sets up this unfortunate cycle of political attack and retribution that will effectively poison government for years to come.
OK. So maybe I'm starting to come down on the "coalition = bad" side of the coin. But I leave it open to you: if you feel passionately one way or another, leave your thoughts in the comment section. Educate me. Convince me. Take away these political nightmares, because let's face it: those are the lamest kinds of dreams to have.