If you're a big coalition supporter, Ignatieff's unequivocal words today have you in a tizzy. I think the move was shrewd politically, as well as sound philosophically. I also think nothing Michael said today precludes a good relationship with other parties, a co-operative spirit, a compromise flavor, mutual respect, etc. A simple fact, pet arrangements aside, you don't need a coalition to make a minority government work. It's a dubious choice that people have presented, either the Liberals support a coalition, or any sense of parliamentary representation is lost. Bullocks.
From a political perspective, there is nothing to be gained for the Liberals, if Ignatieff engages in hypotheticals, if he's "fuzzy" on a potential coalition. That's exactly what the Conservatives would love to see. Want proof? CTV reports the PMO is up in arms at the media today, because they're saying Ignatieff was unequivocal on a coalition, "case closed". That is the Conservative nightmare, they want blurred lines, they want Ignatieff to entertain, they want the media to speculate, they want FUEL for their hysteria. The Conservatives started ads today speaking about the coalition threat, and Ignatieff cut it off at the knees before it festered. In taking such an early position, by the time we reach the actual campaign, this issue will wane as the repetitive "what don't you understand about NO" bores us all to tears. The debate will move to who can get Parliament to work, who can bring people together. Ignatieff has set his parameters, let's debate within that, rather than speculate on things that aren't on the table. FIRM was required, there is no upside for the Liberals to get drawn in to protracted coalition discussion. How other parties view that position is entirely irrelevant, as well as self serving. I really don't want to hear Layton and Duceppe telling Canadians they need a stronger voice in a coalition so send more MP's to Ottawa. Pardon me if that doesn't work for the Liberals, and if the roles were reversed, the tune would change.
On the substance of what Ignatieff said, I think this issue of co-operation and respect will be a central theme in this election. People are sick of the status quo, Harper wants more power, we counter with HIM as the core problem. Give the Liberals a chance to make it work, Harper had his chance and failed. We will work with others, in the spirit of Pearson and Trudeau, without the need for formal arrangements. The other parties will have a voice, the Liberals will bend, but we won't be beholden beyond a particular issue at hand. That's reasonable, that sets a different tone, that speaks to the current dysfunction. Ignatieff as bridge builder, placed perfectly on the political spectrum to have some appeal. Harper as divisive, unable to play with others, Ignatieff offering a different approach that pledges to find consensus and provide good government. Sounds good to me.