Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stephen Harper Says Coalition is the Only Way to Avoid a One Party State

Terry Milewski has an interesting piece, reminding us that Stephen Harper once thought that coalitions were the only way that we could end one-party states. Ending Canada's 'benign dictatorship'
So, let's consider that obscure but intriguing article, written in 1997 by two brainy conservatives, Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper. Yes, it calls Canada "a benign dictatorship." Oh, and it's a passionate defence of coalition governments.

That's right: the whole article is a detailed, persuasive and deeply-researched plea for governments to be forced to compromise with opposition coalitions. That's the only way, said Harper and Flanagan, to curb the tendency to a "one-party state" induced by Canada's "winner take all" system. At the time, Harper was on a break from active politics, working at the National Citizens' Coalition. When he returned as Opposition leader, Flanagan became Harper's chief of staff in 2003 and became campaign co-chair in the 2004 election.
And they further suggest that: "a strategic alliance of Quebec nationalists with conservatives outside Quebec might become possible, and it might be enough to sustain a government."
A Quebec nationalist isn't necessarily a separatist. They're not the same thing. But "nationalists" don't have a party in Parliament; separatists do. The article does suggest that conservatives might have "little choice" but to deal with the separatist party — the Bloc — as the only political formation able to join such an alliance where it counts — in Parliament — along with the Reform and the PCs.
I think I'll send this to Joe Preston.

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