It may be necessary, but remember that NDP/Liberal coalitions are like abusive marriages

ndp-liberal-coalitionNDP/Liberal co-operation tends to be like an abusive marriage and the NDP is almost always on the receiving end.  Every time any party gets into bed with the Liberals, they end up dirty, used and are quickly discarded by the Canadian public.

•In 1925, the Liberals of Mackenzie King held on to power by relying on the Progressive Party‘s support.  The public rewarded the Progressives for this by decimating them in the 1926 election (a blow from which that party would never recover).

•In 1963 and 1965, the NDP propped up the Liberal minority governments of Lester Bowles Pearson and forced the Liberals (originally against their will) to introduce universal health care and the Canadian Pension Plan.  The Canadian public rewards the Liberals with a majority government in 1968, giving them all the credit for the policies the Liberals didn’t want to enact in the first place and rewards the NDP with… nothing.

•In 1972, after supporting the Liberal minority government of Trudeau, the NDP is rewarded by the Canadian electorate in the 1974 election through the joy of witnessing their number of seats slashed in half.

This is not to say that the NDP shouldn’t enter into a temporary coalition with the Liberals.  On the contrary, a temporary, emergency coalition seems to be the best course of action given the Tories’ plans for one-party rule.  I say this despite the fact that I am regularly critical of the NDP for their propensity to betray workers and the socialist principles of Tommy Douglas every time they get into power provincially just as I am known for criticizing the Liberals for betraying… well… just about everybody.

The threat of one-party Tory rule is simply too great to be ignored.  Thus, my advice to New Democrat comrades:

If you want to survive through the next election, tread carefully and don’t make this coalition last too long.

Despite the strong misgivings about the NDP’s rightward shift over the past 40 years, it would be a tragedy to the progressive movement if we were to loose the NDP’s albeit tacit and weak-willed voice in Parliament.

See also:

Tory strategy in framing the public financing debate is intellectually dishonest at best

Harper slams Liberal/NDP “backroom deal”, forgets he came to power through “backroom deal” himself

The coalition must go forth even though Harper has retreated

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1 Response to “It may be necessary, but remember that NDP/Liberal coalitions are like abusive marriages”


  1. 1 David 28 November, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Not that I disagree with your overall thesis, but I think the difference this time is that this would be a coalition, and not some sort of a pact. This time the NDP would be in government and receiving cabinet posts – hence they could more easily and credibly claim credit for X, Y and Z policies, whereas before it looked like the Liberals were doing all the real work. Perhaps there are even greater risks in sitting in cabinet, especially since we don’t know exactly where the economy is going, and upper level bureaucrats who have only worked for Conservatives, or Liberals, could be unfriendly to their New Democratic bosses. But without risk, there is no reward. So I’d say the NDP ought to go along with this, but they need to go in with their eyes open.


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