Best outcome of next Ontario election – some kind of Liberal-NDP / NDP-Liberal co-operative government????

Oct 29th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

[UPDATED OCTOBER 30]. A sentence in  one of Martin Regg Cohn’s recent Toronto Star columns (Saturday, October 27, 2012) has revived some of my enthusiasm for what strikes some among us as a benign potential Ontario political development, that has lately seemed to have slid too far beyond the pale of realization in the real world.

The sentence reads : “By next year we will look back on prorogation as prologue: The beginning of the end of the McGuinty government, the stillborn rebirth of the Liberal party, and the dawn of a Tory or NDP minority government or Liberal-NDP coalition.” The part of the sentence I can get really enthused about is “or Liberal-NDP coalition.”

I tried to sketch the rational passion for this kind of prospect at the start of this year, in “McGuinty—Horwath .. will showing the left how to co-operate be Ontario’s new role in confederation?” (Thursday, January 5, 2012).

There was some subsequent slight movement in this direction – culminating in somewhat volatile NDP support for the McGuinty Liberal government’s first minority budget. (See the June 19 and 20 updates to “Wisconsin recall all over again if Ontario has privatization election in July?”.) But the leadership in both parties has apparently been hostile even to any short-term stable co-operative arrangement, of the sort that would have avoided the latest big surprise in Ontario politics.

In part, concern for the eventual fate of progressive public policy in Canada at large draws me to the prospect (or hope may be the better word?) that some form of Liberal-NDP (or NDP-Liberal) co-operative government will arise from the Ontario election which many observers now seem to see as almost inevitable, at some point in the spring of 2013.

At the same time, some form of Liberal-NDP (or NDP-Liberal) co-operative government would also, I think, best serve the particular needs of Canada’s most populous province,  at this particular challenging juncture in its history.

A Conservative majority government led by Tim Hudak would, as best as can be judged from what he has said, just take Ontario down the same dead-end road currently advocated by Mr. Romney in the USA, and actively being pursued by the Cameron government in the UK. At the moment it is not easy to see how a Conservative minority government with similar instincts could get even one budget through the legislature.

(And there is no Alberta oil in Ontario, of the sort that is saving Mr. Harper’s vague pretensions of following a similar revealed  religion from destabilizing the larger Canadian economy.)

There are similarly reasons of a different sort to doubt the capacity of even an NDP majority government led by Andrea Horwath to adequately understand and act sensibly on the real financial issues that Ontario does face right now.  And an NDP minority government does not seem likely to prove any more stable than a Conservative minority government.

There seems considerable agreement among close observers of the Ontario scene at the moment that a Liberal majority government in a fresh election this coming spring will almost certainly prove politically impossibile. Even if this weren’t the case, there is more than a little evidence in Premier McGuinty’s recent efforts that the Liberals by themselves are not able to bell the cat as current circumstances require either. And we’ve already seen what happens to even a Liberal “major minority” government, in the present provincial political climate.

It does still seem true enough that, in Ontario as elsewhere, the current leadership in both the Liberal and New Democratic parties remains aggressively opposed to any stable form of Liberal-NDP (or NDP-Liberal) co-operative government. Martin Regg Cohn’s recent Toronto Star column nonetheless implies that there is some configuration of the vote in the next provincial election which could change all this.

Without inquiring too deeply into what this configuration might be, just yet, I for one am happy to see the prospect being raised once again. And I do keep on hearing that more than a few others agree. Who knows? Maybe it could even happen?

Tags: , , ,

Leave Comment