How long will the same depressing theme emerge before somebody advocates FORMAL co-operation, "merger", "non aggression pact" between the opposition? Another Nanos poll out today reinforces the macro problem, currently manifesting itself in Calgary Center. Vote splitting is Stephen Harper's best friend, recent polling must make the PMO simply giddy. Why then would the "opposition" continue on with their narrow tribalism, knowing full well their chief adversary LOVES the status quo?
Joan Crockatt has run a brutal campaign in this by-election. The only saving grace for the Conservatives in Calgary Center is that opposition remains divided, this reality blunting full impact. What we are witnessing in this riding is another glaring example of the opposition to Harper voluntarily handicapping itself in the name of tribal pursuit. Of course there are differences between the various opposition parties, but put side by side with the chasm between themselves and the Conservatives, the inability to find some common understanding is philosophically suspect.
The majority of Canadians don't care about your team, they aren't invested in partisan pissing matches, in fact partisanship is waning within the greater society. What is true, what we call the "center" in Canadian politics is nothing more than a recognition of where society sits, it shifts, partisans react to it, and truth be told no party can achieve power without mirroring it.
With full knowledge that moderation is the only path to power, pure ideology is irrelevant, a domain largely reserved to the faithful. Compromise is a must, and it provides curious bastardizations for partisans, in that they can call still themselves "left wing" and support a center right Gary Doer, just because he carries an orange banner. You can slag a Dalton McGuinty, yet cheer a Darrell Dexter, even though the policies are largely similar, simply because of the tribal considerations. You can bash a former NDP Premier, yet support a former Liberal cabinet minister- who places himself inside a boardroom, akin to a CEO, in his first advertisement- just because he's YOUR guy. You can bash the Liberals on takeovers, yet turn a blind eye to changing opposition to trade deals, because it's your team and that's all that matters. What is also true, the greater populous could care less about the philosophical pretzels partisans turn ourselves into to, they just want solutions and visions.
The polling is clear, in the absence of a complete Liberal meltdown, the NDP will be hard pressed to defeat the Conservatives. The polls also show that under optimal conditions the Liberals actually have a chance, but put into the realm of probabilities, you are right back at another probable Harper mandate.
The Conservatives have a 30-35% base of support that is unwavering, dependable and committed to vote. Within the current political makeup, this government need not appeal to much beyond this base, secure in the knowledge two thirds of us are relatively irrelevant to their personal fortunes. This reality creates a narrowly focused government, one that fails to achieve consensus, or even cares for that matter. A divided opposition not only secures power, it also dictates how that power is yielded and notions of true democracy suffer as a result.
Liberals and the NDP, as well as Greens, can dream about ideal scenarios that bring them to power. There are real avenues to power, but there are also many more practical outcomes that deliver nothing to either, except another mandate for this government, despite a vast majority wishing their ouster. There is something fundamentally wrong with the current state of Canadian politics, and once we dispense with ego and sporting interests, understand that the path to power for all opposition parties is staking moderate ground, the notions of co-operation become not just desirable but entirely logical.