It is a pretty fair bet that a majority of Canadians would welcome a declaration from the non-Conservative parties that they are ready and willing to form a coalition government should it be required following the coming election.
So why is Michael Ignatieff so coy about it? He must know that dozens of countries are in the habit of electing governments made up by coalitions of their leading parties, that coalitions are a totally normal phenomenon in the political history of many countries, and that there is nothing at all wrong or disreputable about the idea of a coalition.
What is strange, and almost disreputable, is that on the weekend when Ignatieff took over leadership of the Liberal Party, arrangements had been made which would have handed him the Prime Ministership on a platter, but he showed a distaste for the idea which I think we can still hold against him as he now goes to the polls to try to become Prime Minister.
Although Ignatieff does not appeal to me personally, I would certainly welcome it if he were to become the next Prime Minister: anyone but Harper is my motto. To a certain extent I agree with the sentiment expressed on Saturday in an editorial in The Globe and Mail, which calls attention to Ignatieff’s intellectual gifts, and asks Canadians to cease attacking him on the grounds that his previous employment has mostly been in other nations. I once interviewed Ignatieff’s father, who was a remarkable man, a Canadian diplomat of considerable achievements, a man to be admired, generally speaking. So I, too, find the Conservative advertisement that seems to call the validity of the man’s family into question in extremely bad taste, besides being poor politics.
What I object to in the Conservatives is their wide range of antediluvian ideas, usually expressed by people of limited capacity, who are Harper’s Cabinet team. Some of these people should be drummed right out of politics. Men like the minister of justice Vic Toews, who, when he speaks of crime, sounds like he is coming from a couple of centuries ago; Jason Kenney, a man who routinely manipulates people and their beliefs in his own political interest; John Baird, an attack-dog whose only redeeming feature is that he apparently looks after his constituents diligently; the finance minister Jim Flaherty, now at work trying to turn Canada into a facsimile of the United States, after having tried the same thing in Ontario. And many others.
Let’s hope we can get rid of this mob.