Coalition lurking in the halls
The vaulting of Michael Ignatieff to leader of the Liberal Party was viewed by the chattering class as a dashing against the rocks of the proposed coalition government. I’d say the coalition is alive and well, it’s just lurking in the halls of Parliament.
I’m not sure how many confidence votes Harper shoved down the Liberals’ throats during the 39th parliament, but I’m sure there were a fair few. (Actually count anyone?)
The financial statement that brought his house of Conservative cards crumbling down was his last confidence vote, and I expect he will be using less of them when the House reconvenes in January.
Sure, there’s the new budget, and there may be a smattering of confidence votes following that, but they will become infrequent. Here’s why:
The Conservatives always used the confidence vote as their ace of spades. It was that unbeatable fixture that drove the Conservative agenda forward. Well, now the Liberals have a joker, the coalition. Many Canadians still see it as just that, a joke. It’s immensely unpopular, but that can change with time.
If Harper pulls another move that is so repulsive to the opposition parties that they simply have to vote against it, the coalition proposal is now on the table. This was the dangerous precedent so many Conservative commentators were worried about, but I’d remind them that Harper created it.
Add to this the likely fallout within the Conservative party. There will invariably be in-housing when the Conservatives sit down in caucus together as this whole political crisis was precipitated by their pig-headedness - more accurately, Harper’s pig-headedness.
The tables seem to have turned very abruptly. Liberals have themselves in order under their imported Iggy, and the Conservatives will be bickering amongst each other.
So, will the coalition government form when the House reconvenes? Absolutely not. As much as I like the idea here in Quebec, it’s simply to unpopular, even if the Liberals wanted to go forward with it.
But this coalition has radically changed the dynamic within the House. Indeed, I think it’s the beginning of the end for Harper. He has certainly denied himself a majority by again slapping Quebec, and his support among Conservatives has come into serious question.
The Liberals have come out of this on top, with a new leader and the appearance of a unified party. They can also trumpet their success in forcing the Conservative’s hand when the budget is put forward.
Iggy also now has his joker card, which could rise in popularity if Harper even hints at retrogressing into his natural state of militant Conservativism.
If Harper created the Conservative Party, he also created the coalition.