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Friday, September 02, 2011 

Tommy Douglas Predicted That Canada Would Return To A Two Party System

"I think that in time we will get back to a two party system. But it will be a two party system which will have a party right of centre and one left of centre but this will take a process of adjustment,"
Tommmy Douglas
NDP Leader
1968 Election Leader's Debate

What Mr. Douglas didn't indicate in his prediction was the 'process' that would see a return to a Canadian two-party system.

As I see it there are two possible ways that a new two-party system could arise:
1) The New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party could merge and create a new entitiy. (This is hard to imagine at the moment), (OR)

2) Right wing Libs would migrate to Harper (as occurred in 2011) and Progressive Libs would migrate to the New Democrats .. resulting in the dissolution of the old Liberal Party of Canada.

That is something that Prime Minister Harper has wanted for a long time.

What a silly comment. With 60% of the country voting against Harper, election after election, he's dead meat in a two-party setup. I don't like the guy, but I don't think he's stupid enough to wish for his own demise.

Not only is a Liberal - NDP merger difficult to imagine, it is mind-numbingly stupid. Advocates of merger understand neither politics nor religion, and base their dubious case on a manifestly idiotic series of assumptions - most especially that a newly merged Liberal Democratic Party would retain virtually 100% of current Liberal voters and virtually 100% of New Democrat voters.

In realty, a merged Liberal Democratic Party would lose a significant cadre of both Liberal and NDP supporters. Some Liberals and some New Democrats would migrate to other existing parties (ie, the Greens) or to newly created non-merger alternatives (ie a Social Democratic Party made up of anti-merger New Democrats. Some Liberals and some New Democrats would simply say some rather than support a this misbegotten Frankenstein's Party. Some significant number of Liberals and a not insignificant number of New Democrats would actually migrate to the Conservative Party. The net retention (ie voters retained subtracting those who migrated to the Cons) would result in no significant change in electoral outcome.

All of this leaves aside the fact that, unlike the Progressive Conservative and Reform / Alliance merger, the Liberals and New Democrats are not substantially compatible parties. While many Liberal VOTERS are politically progressive, the institutional and electoral Liberal Party is a party of the hard right, utterly indistinguishable from the Harper Conservatives on any meaningful economic issue.

In effect, then, advocates of merger are saying that there is no place in Canadian politics for a part of the moderate left, and are therefore proposing to subsume Canada's only viable progressive party into the decaying corpse of a hard right party of corporate interests.

The sad thing is that some of these useful idiots of the hard right actually think themselves progressive.

What is hilarious is the hard right like Peter Worthington weighing in on how wrong it would be for the parties to merge>

1) I agree with Malcom.

The 2 parties are not compatible. Liberals are liberals. While there is a progressive liberal element/wing to the NDP, it is social democratic, democratic socialist, and green in it's core being. Liberals are not those things. Liberals and New Democrats can work together on a policy or policy implementation basis, but the two strains are incompatible.

It's sort of like horses and cows, or sheep and donkeys herding together - some of the same behaviours, but certainly not the same species.

I especially like Malcolm's statement: "Advocates of merger understand neither politics nor religion..."

because the differences in the parties are religious - soul level differences.

2) I think that having only 2 parties will damage the Canadian political ecosystem even more than the existing transplantation of the U.S. style hard right strain of conservatism that Reform and Harper have brought to Canada as an invasive destructive species.


I think that New Democrats should be looking to a larger number of parties (not less), proportional representation (of a style - c.f. Germany Mixed-member proportional representation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-member_proportional_representation), and a more democratic Canada with more diversity of views reflected rather than being pushed into an artificial merger with the Liberals.

The kind of discipline that would have to be imposed to keep the merged party together would be very destructive - it would become a soulless electoral machine - not a political party as we know it. We saw what happened after 2 decades of stringent discipline being imposed on the Saskatchewan NDP for the sake of winning elections and keeping the stupid right out of power.

The Saskatchewan NDP will be out of power for at least 12 years courtesy of the alienation and damage done to it's motivated base/members by the kind of discipline imposed by the "power at all costs" hierarchy that flourished under leaders over the last 2 decades.

We should create a system which allows the 60% of Canadians who don't want strident U.S. style attack conservatism to have a voice that is represented in a representative chamber. Not a dysfunctional Israeli style proportional representation, but like various European models that have both proportional and geographic representation mixed.

The alliances and coalitions should happen in a way that allows more fluidity in the total political system. Having an artificial 2 party system for the sake of attaining power may seem like a good idea right now, but...

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