After trying for weeks to let on as if there have not been serious talks of a merger between his Liberals and the New Democrats, Michael Ignatieff has, apparently, decided to come clean and play it straight with Canadians. And it’s time he did. Jack Layton, to his discredit, continues to be evasive and disingenuous.
A report in the National Post states, “Mr. Ignatieff also told a news conference Thursday he wouldn’t ask the former Liberal prime minister to stop talking about the idea [of a NDP-Liberal merger].”
The National Post quotes the chief Grit as saying at a news conference, “Mr. Chrétien won three majority governments—you don’t go around telling anybody of that distinction to cease and desist.”
Fair enough. Now perhaps he should write an apology to his former war room guy, Warren Kinsella, who found it necessary to swear in an affidavit that rumours about merger talks were genuine. Ignatieff had insisted that no “authorized” talks were taking place. It is obvious now that it was just more of Ignatieff’s hair-splitting in an attempt to mislead Canadians.
The New Democratic Party of Canada came into existence in 1961, three years after the Canadian Labour congress forged an alliance with the pretty-far-to-the-left Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) to form a new political party. The roots of the CCF go back to the 1930s.
The party peaked in popularity and political influence after the 1988 federal election when it won a record 43 seats. But 1988 also marked the start of the decline of the party. The Liberals had only won 40 seats in the previous 1984 election, just 10 more than the New Democrats. At dissolution the parties were only six seats apart (38-32), but the Liberals gave them a pasting in 1988 from which the NDP never really recovered. They slumped to only nine seats in the 1993 election and lost party status in the House.
Since their low point in 1993, the NDP’s fortunes have improved somewhat, but never to the point that it could seriously believe it could win power—at least, not on their own. NDP provincial premiers Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh joined the Liberals when they entered federal politics, rather than the federal branch of the NDP.
From the 1930s to the second decade of the 21st century the NDP has been denied power by the Canadian electorate. They came close when the soft-headed Stéphane Dion signed a formal coalition agreement with them giving a promise of seats at the cabinet table, but that soon fizzled leaving the prospect of another 70 years of futility ahead.
Of course the NDP needs to join forces with the Liberals, and the formidable left-wing of the Liberals combined with their, also formidable, power-at-any-cost pragmatists are open to offers.
The least Canadians deserve is to be leveled with.