Ignatieff completely dismisses any pre-election agreements. I go back and forth on this concept, but I do applaud the unequivocal nature of Ignatieff's comments, because it brings certain conviction. This issue doesn't go away during a campaign, which means you need standard lines. This is the best counter, which could serve Ignatieff well during the debate:
“I can make all kinds of electoral arrangements work and people should have confidence that I can. I'm a unifier, I'm not a divider.”
The Conservatives will make a coalition an issue during the campaign. The above is an effective way to turn the whole discussion into a verdict on Harper's ability to govern. If Ignatieff can pivot, frame Harper as a divider, the current dysfunctional status of Parliament solely his responsibility, then he can take the mantle as the only man that can bring a new collaborative tone to Ottawa. People want politicians to work together, they want an end to posturing and bickering, they don't endorse the current circumstance. In this way, Ignatieff can position himself as the change candidate, but it will only be effective if it's articulated with repetitive intensity and laser-like focus. You're not making this case, if you devote a day here, day there, you have to tattoo the electorate with this idea that Harper is the divider, Ignatieff isn't the career politician, he can bring people together for the greater good. If you ask me, that argument is a powerful catalyst to attack apathy.
If you favor a coalition, Ignatieff leaves room for future arrangements. These statements aren't a complete rebuke, merely a horse and cart presentation. This stance, does however, ensure further debate during the campaign, because voters will be entertaining future Parliamentary makeups. If you want to use the last days of the British campaign, you will see how polling can dictate complete pre-occupation with what it will all mean, after votes are cast. What Ignatieff is saying, he will fight for every last Liberal vote, under our platform, and then if we have some sort of unclear result, Canadians can look to him as the "unifer".
Harper has presided over the most contentious Parliament in our history. The Conservatives will try and argue a majority is the only way to achieve "good government". The Liberals must ask Canadians if the Conservatives deserve a bigger mandate, given their behavior the past years in government. There is a certain absurdity with asking for more power, because you can't work with others. The Liberals place Harper as the problem, not the solution, and I see a whole new vein opening up during a campaign. If Ignatieff can position himself as the guy that can bring diverging interests together, it could speak to the country's mood.
Ignatieff's position don't completely reflect my opinion, but I do see how this stance can be advantageous moving forward. One way or another, the Liberals have to turn this coalition question around, and if we plant our flag on the "divider vs unifer" terrain, it's an exciting option.