Both Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton have taken great pains to assure us there is no substance to rumours of a merger or coalition between the federal Liberals and the New Democrats. I notice, however, that they do not actually deny there have been talks, but that no authorized talks have taken place.
Warren Kinsella may be many things I do not like, but I do not believe he’d lie in a sworn affidavit saying Alfred Apps, the federal party’s president, spoke to him about high-level discussions with NDP officials about the creation of a new party. John Mraz, a former director of communications for the Liberals, has sworn a similar affidavit saying that, in a discussion with Apps, the party president told him about merger talks between the two parties.
Enough political pundits and journalists, who have reliable contacts inside the Liberal party, have reported that talks have taken place to make the reports credible.
I watched Jack Layton stick-handle around the question on television on the weekend. According to Jack, party old-timers get together and muse about all sorts of things, possible including future cooperation between the parties. Apparently, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and Ed Broadbent, a former federal NDP leader are good buddies and muse together on a pretty regular basis, but it’s just old-timers’ musings and nothing at all to take seriously.
Of course, this is bafflegab. We hear enough of it to recognize it immediately.
Think back to November 2008 when the media was filled with reports of real discussions between, guess who? Ed Broadbent and Jean Chrétien, of course. These were the parties who got together to muse about a coalition between their two parties. And guess what? The two political parties actually did sign a formal coalition agreement.
When smoke is billowing out the windows of a house, there usually is a fire inside.
It is not in the nature of most politicians to tell the truth. Scorpions sting, politicians lie. Their first inclination always is to lie—we have countless examples of that. In this case, they aren’t actually telling lies, just evading the truth by splitting hairs about what’s really going on. Obfuscation is their coin.