frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
My friend Jude Macdonald, who was and still is instrumental in the Saganash campaign, asked for my thoughts on Nathan Cullen's refusal to consider the Bloc in an eventual electoral partnership. Apparently his refusal is based on the Bloc being out to "destroy the country".

I'm not too inclined to ally with the Bloc myself. I do respect the party for its progressive policies, but they have been a roadblock for the NDP achieving national prominence. I don't really care that it's a separatist party: it's never really been that, but rather a "Québec party" more than anything else. Now that we have finally managed to overcome this roadblock, I don't see why we should give them a lifeline. With Duceppe gone, the Bloc has lost a lot of its heft. So has the NDP with Jack's departure, but there is more life in the social-democratic electorate than in the separatist electorate.

Now, allying ourselves with the Liberals (even led by ex-NDPer Bob Rae) rather than the Bloc sounds a little counter-intuitive, when the goal is to promote social-democratic values. So let's back up a bit.

The main reason the Bloc has been such a formidable force in Canadian politics is not because a majority of Québécois want to separate, but because we have a flawed electoral system. As it happens, this flawed electoral system is also the reason Cullen has proposed joint nomination meetings. So let's strike this coöperation agreement with all parties that want to join in the fun, even the Bloc, but let's put a condition to this partnership: Let's have a national referendum on proportion representation (PR) as the first order of business for any party (be it Liberal or NDP, or a coalition) that wins the election. If we were to make this condition essential to participating in the coalition, the Bloc could join the coalition, but once we'd switch over to PR, the Bloccould never regain the strength it had in the last two decades. So it's a poison pill which they might be tempted to accept anyway since they've been curtailed anyway.

Québec has a history of voting in waves for charismatic politicians: Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien (!), Duceppe, Layton. We've lost Layton so getting the Bloc on side in a coalition could be essential to keeping many of our seats in Québec, at the cost of giving some away. We're going to lose a lot of seats in Québec anyway during the next election if our next leader doesn't gel with voters in Québec, so why not bargain with the other parties to control our own destiny rather than just let it happen to us?

For the record, I haven't endorsed any of the current leadership candidates but Cullen's proposal is the most interesting thing to have happened in this race, and the most important. There's no point in electing a leader if they're not telling us how they're going to win the next election and actually implement the policies they run on. We're not just the conscience of Parliament anymore. Rick Salutin has written about why many new democrats wouldn't want the Party to enter in such a coalition with the Liberals, but these people need to show us what's the winning alternative.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

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