It seems the NDP is between a rock and a hard place. While I don't feel so much for Jack Layton who helped to put Harper in office in the first place, I do have some sympathy for many NDP supporters who's hearts are often in the right place. So let me just give 10 sincere reasons why it's not in the NDP's interest OR Canada's interest for the NDP to be propping up the Harper government. I hope they are taking these things into consideration before making up their mind.
1) You prop up Harper now, he will pull the plug on himself right after the Olympics with a poll-tested budget with a poison pill or two (elimination of public financing perhaps) anyways. Don't believe me? Harper's strategists let that cat out of the bag months ago, and when Con House Leader Jay Hill's newsletter says: "History has demonstrated that voters are less likely to vote for change and against an incumbent government when feeling patriotic and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics in February will undoubtedly inflame a greater sense of patriotism and excitement across the country", you can rest assured they will do all they can to ensure that's when they get their election. Do you really want to go at the preferred time of the guy you voted against 79 times?
2) A six month reprieve is hardly much new time to fundraise and if opposing the Harper government constantly for almost 4 years didn't bring in new money, you really think propping up this guy your supporters hate will?
3) Playing into Harper's hands increases the risk your party will be killed by the end of public financing. The Liberals have shown they can survive without public financing. Your party clearly can't. If Harper wins the next election, public financing is gone. He'd rather go in March than now. The Liberals could still likely win then too, but why would you help Harper's chances even in the slightest when you know him winning would be the end of your party?
4) You've said yourself again and again, Harper can't be trusted. You will get nothing from him in return for your support he wasn't going to do anyway, because you know even moving an inch towards your real stated priorities would be toxic to his base. If he did give you something that looked like a past NDP priority, it's pretty likely it would die on the order paper when he pulls the plug in March. What would you run on then? "We tried to get results for people, but Stephen Harper fooled us and gave us nothing for the support we gave him." Not really a winner I'd say.
5) Copenhagen. The environment has been a major issue for the NDP for years now. Propping up Stephen Harper means HE will be OUR representative at the most important Climate Change Conference in history this December in Copenhagen. Michael Ignatieff has pledged his support for a REAL cap-and-trade system with absolute caps and a 1990 baseline for emissions targets. He will propose more of what I'm sure the NDP would agree with in the campaign. Isn't it obvious, Ignatieff would bring to Denmark a position that's much more in line with the interests of Canada, not to mention your party as well? The main obstructionists at Bali were Japan, the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. and Japan now take climate change seriously, so that leaves just one hold-out left. One can be enough to significantly undermine whatever consensus based agreement comes out of the conference. Wouldn't the NDP want to see Copenhagen succeed?
6) Putting Your BC Seats at risk. You know all those seats you hold in B.C. where the Conservatives have traditionally finished second? Well just where might Harper's Conservatives' see its greatest boost in support in a post-Olympics election?
7) You throw away your entire message of the last 4 years. So you were the "only party that can truly be counted on to oppose Stephen Harper" and now your message would be "we opposed Stephen Harper until that would actually have consequences and then we folded like a cheap suit". Not sure that would sell. You think after you called Liberals supporting a Conservative budget a "Liberal-Conservative coalition" (which it wasn't) wouldn't make it difficult for you to explain how you haven't just formed a "NDP-Conservative coalition"? Well I don't envy who would ever be left to do the explaining.
8) It doesn't pass the smell test for you to claim now all of a sudden you want to "make Parliament work." You've been voting constantly for new elections for the past 4 years. You think the public has that short of memories or that Stephen Harper won't mock you for it at every turn?
9) The proposed Con EI Reforms are nowhere near what you claimed would be essential needed EI Reforms. As Jeff and Steve note, they do not address eligibility, regional differences or access, and it's very hard to square why would you support these but so vehemently opposed the Conservative budget. You would take EI off the able entirely with a proposal that's nowhere near as comprehensive it should be and doesn't truly help the people you said you were fighting for. That's not the results for people you've been promising. By supporting these reforms WITHOUT asking for SIGNIFICANTLY MORE beyond them, you surrender all credibility on an issue you've fought on for years.
10) You know the only way to get real "results for people" is with a Liberal government. Facts are facts, Jack Layton has more in common with Michael Ignatieff in his views that he does Stephen Harper. You will NOT get a coalition with the Liberals, but at least you could have a government who actually listens to all parties and won't reject a good idea just because it came from a party who Stephen Harper's base calls "crazy socialists". On education, health care, the environment and foreign policy, the NDP can find far more common ground with Liberals than Conservatives.
So you want to actually make a real difference in the lives of Canadians? Let's help give Canadians the government they deserve now. You may worry about losing seats now, but you'd be likely to lose more in March, at least now you can hold on to your credibility and still have a good expectation of influencing policy with a Liberal minority government (something that really boosted your profile the last time).
The NDP deludes itself if they think they'd ever have any clout with a Conservative government.
I and so many others have already stated why it is in Canada's interests to have an election. I know in their heart of hearts, many NDP supporters agree with those same reasons. It's narrow considerations that are getting in the way - the party is broke, Jack Layton wants to keep his leadership position awhile longer, Tom Mulcair wants to keep his seat awhile longer, maybe some others want to save their pensions.
Well that's not good enough for Canadians and I would hope that's not good enough for the grassroots of the NDP either.
Now NDP supporters could flood this post with comments talking about how Liberals were propping up the Conservatives in the past (which I've said before was justifiable) as if that somehow absolves the NDP, but really how does that discussion help us forward?
Let's focus on the future now before any decisions are made: what is in the best long-term interests of your party and your country NDP?
Here's hoping they come to realize that theirs and the country's interests lie with ending Stephen Harper's reign in power now.
UPDATE 10:55 PM: If there was ever any doubt that Harper doesn't intend to embarrass the NDP with each new confidence measure, the actual wording of Friday's Ways and Means Motion should make his intentions pretty clear. You still think you can trust this man NDP? This is your ticket to filling your coffers? To vote for things you've given fiery speeches opposing before? Well get ready, Stephen Harper is just getting started with you.
UPDATE 2 Sept. 15 @ 1:45 PM: "the NDP says an email sent last week to Mr. Giorno by NDP Leader Jack Layton's chief of staff, Anne McGrath, has so far been ignored.
'It is telling. It is their modus operandi,' NDP spokesman Karl Belanger said. 'They don't want to work with other parties and they're trying to minimize the contact with other parties. That's been the case with the Prime Minister and his team since they got into power.' "
But yet seems like you will be supporting them anyway. I'm guessing at this point, Harper could come out and say "I will not speak to the NDP and I will offer them no concessions" and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.
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