What if the PCP and the Alliance had not merged?

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What if the PCP and the Alliance had not merged?

How would the political landscape be today if the Right hadn't united? Any thoughts?

Regions: 
JKR

With continued vote splitting amongst right-wing voters, a right-wing majority would be almost impossible.

The NDP or Liberals would have a much better chance at forming a government.

A minority NDP-Liberal government would be a much greater possibility.

Brachina

Liberal Majority. I hate to say it, but the rise of the right was needed before the rise of the left could happen.

Hoodeet

And we have Peter MacKay  himself to thank for it -- for breaking his word to his fellow PC'ers and selling them out, proving as traitorous to his party as his father was a  teflon master of patronage.  What  was the payoff - a lifelong guarantee of plum cabinet positions, and now the fattest contract for new warship construction in his province? 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Instead of the PCP-Alliance merger, you'd have seen a PCP-Liberal merger, and the creation of, essentially, a new federal version of BC Social Credit.

Given that the Liberals were governing in the Nineties, on the real issues(social and economic justice)to the RIGHT of Brian Mulroney, the fit would have been perfect.  And Paul Martin would probably still be prime minister.

babbler 8

I think Brachina is right on this, the Liberals would have hung on longer. I don't believe a Liberal/NDP merger would be as successful as many think. In electoral math 1+1 doesn't always equal 2. The resulting party would have to be far more centerist than the NDP to win a majority government in a two party system. The thing is there are many ridings where we need Liberal candidates to split the anti-NDP vote to elect members. As Conservatives get disaffected with Harper they need somewhere else to go if they are not in the NDP universe. 

Unionist

babbler 8 wrote:

I think Brachina is right on this, the Liberals would have hung on longer. I don't believe a Liberal/NDP merger would be as successful as many think. In electoral math 1+1 doesn't always equal 2. The resulting party would have to be far more centerist than the NDP to win a majority government in a two party system. The thing is there are many ridings where we need Liberal candidates to split the anti-NDP vote to elect members. As Conservatives get disaffected with Harper they need somewhere else to go if they are not in the NDP universe. 

A babbler 8 sighting! Wow!

Were you really babbler #8? That's amazing. Welcome back!

 

JKR

Wilf Day wrote:

Shrotly before the merger, the PC Party had endorsed proportional representation at their conference in Edmonton -- the same one that adopted the "308" strategy (run in every riding). PR was the right answer, rather than unite-the-right. Stephen Harper had said so himself earlier. The Liberals would have lost their majority, and a democratic alliance -- Reform/PC/NDP - would have enacted proportional representation.

And this is a major reason why the movement for PR became stronger in the early 2000's and why referendums on electoral reform were held in PEI, BC, and Ontario.

The right in Canada go all out to win; even when it requires jettisoning their traditional support for FPTP.

Doug

The PCs probably would have withered away so things would today look much the same. It just would have taken longer for the Conservatives to get to government.

Wilf Day

Shortly before the merger, the PC Party had endorsed proportional representation at their conference in Edmonton -- the same one that adopted the "308" strategy (run in every riding). PR was the right answer, rather than unite-the-right. Stephen Harper had said so himself earlier. The Liberals would have lost their majority, and a democratic alliance -- Reform/PC/NDP - would have enacted proportional representation.

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

This question has always intrigued me. I think things would have been quite interesting if Scott Brison had received the support of the Orchardites, instead of McKay, as I believe almost happened. I highly doubt he could stomach letting the party merge with the Social Conservatives, for obvious reasons.

Couldn't tell you for sure whether the NDP would have ascended to Official Opposition, but there were seeds for that regardless of the party structures. Considering that Layton was already in place with his perspective on how to win Quebec, and the falling out with the Liberal Party over the sponsorship scandal would have happened anyway, I think it's a safe bet to have assumed it would have happened.

As for the Liberals and PCs, I think they might have decided to cooperate in some fashion if the NDP started threatening Liberal hegemony. I don't think the Alliance would have done as well without the name Conservative, that they took from the looted PC party. Not sure if the Greens would have done so well either without their share of PC Refugees.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Interested Observer wrote:

 Not sure if the Greens would have done so well either without their share of PC Refugees.

Were you able to write that sentence with a straight face?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

Interested Observer wrote:

 Not sure if the Greens would have done so well either without their share of PC Refugees.

Were you able to write that sentence with a straight face?

Yes... I assumed it was pretty well established among political junkies by now that there was a movement of that sort and it contributed to the Greens breakthrough election in 2004.

Is it still taboo to mention the Greens on this forum without a negative qualifier/tone? Sorry, I assumed that after the May 2nd results that it would no longer be such a priority to view the Greens as beneath you and that Liberals had largely replaced that role in the NDP Partisan Psyche, or does that only happen when the NDP form government and implement PR? If so, what should I do to expedite this? I'm tired of it.

adma

Well, Jim Harris was commonly identified as "Red Tory".  (Though I think a lot of the Green surge also had a bit of a "Mel Hurtig populist" tone to it, too...)

Howard

This deserves its own thread, but the Liberal-Green merger talks are now on.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Howard wrote:

This deserves its own thread, but the Liberal-Green merger talks are now on.

So, if this comes to pass, Manitoba Liberals would become expedited Greens, with dissenters joining the NDP? What about disaffected Tories? Can they join too? If they wish to join forces in a common cause, why not work toward PR, I'm sure the NDP would be happy to oblige.

theleftyinvestor

The Brison-as-leader thread is an interesting alternate history.

Leading up to the 2004 election, things got hairy with the sponsorship scandal. Disaffected Liberal votes piled into the PC & NDP, to the detriment of the Alliance. The popular vote went down like this: 32% Liberal, 22% Alliance, 20% PC, 16% NDP, 10% Bloc and others. The Liberals acheived a minority government of 145 seats (more than in the real timeline because of vote splits), allowing them to lean on any opposition party they wanted to at any given time.

In 2005, the PC, Alliance and Bloc refused to go along with the budget. The NDP had enough seats alone to support the Liberals, and they brokered a budget deal. The deal began to fall apart at the seams towards the end of the year, but meanwhile Brison was beginning to catch on as a viable leader for the PCs. He charmed Belinda Stronach across to his caucus from the Alliance, and he seized a number of Liberal backbenchers and even one or two cabinet ministers. Suddenly the math didn't add up anymore, and the NDP was unable to keep the Liberal government afloat. Brison brokered a deal with Martin that would see one more year of stable government in exchange for appeasing Red Tories while also bringing in electoral reform (as the PC platform called for it at the time). Brison successfully marketed this to the public as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean of all the corruption of the past, and give voters real choice.

Brison gained an ally in Jack Layton on electoral reform, and gained NDP support on a PR referendum bill. But public support was clamouring for an election sooner than Elections Canada could actually put together a plan. Brison compromised that a referendum on electoral reform be held concurrently with the next federal election. At the last minute, he managed to convince a reluctant Stephen Harper to join the pro-PR movement. However, the Liberals inserted a poison pill with the assistance of the Bloc, abruptly changing the nature of electoral reform from PR to the alternative vote. Duceppe had been duly convinced that he stood to lose much more from PR than from AV. This causes a huge uproar in Parliament, but ultimately the referendum bill passes with all-party support.

In the October 2007 federal election, the referendum passed with 61% supporting electoral reform. However, Canada's last FPTP election also saw the Liberals lose an additional ton of credibility due to their flip-flopping on reform. Moreover, the Bloc was seen as undermining Quebec's interests, and Jack Layton began to pique some interest of Quebecers, who were still not convinced that the PCs were again worthy of consideration. Results: 28% PC, 26% Liberal, 20% Alliance, 18% NDP, 8% Bloc and others. Significantly, the NDP elected their first three MPs from Quebec ever to be selected in a general election: Françoise Boivin, Thomas Mulcair and a rather surprised Pierre Ducasse. The PCs were elected with a minority government. Paul Martin, deflated, resigned immediately from the leadership. Interim leader Carolyn Bennett presided over an early 2008 leadership race that saw newly elected MPs Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff go up against Stéphane Dion and Gerard Kennedy. When Dion finished fourth on the first ballot, he withdrew to support Kennedy, and this ultimately resulted in the latter winning the leadership.

The first term of Brison's government only lasted for less than two years it took for Elections Canada to make the necessary preparations for an AV election. These were tumultuous months that saw a global economic downturn, but a partial recovery ensued under Brison's leadership. Kennedy was seen as relatively uninspiring, with little to draw voters to him compared the more charismatic Layton on the left and the pragmatic Brison on the right. In July 2009, PM Scott Brison called an election for August. The expectation was that PC and Alliance supporters would put each other second, preventing Liberals from coming up the middle. However, a series of incidents leading up to the election underscored the shameful homophobia that had still failed to be silenced in the Alliance caucus. Alliance supporters did put the PCs second for the most part, but Red Tories protested by handing their second vote to the NDP after Layton's charismatic performance in the debates. This was particularly the case in Quebec. Liberals and Bloc supporters also tended to put the NDP second. 

While the PC seat count increased in the 2009 election to 122 seats, mainly thanks to transfers from Alliance voters, the NDP swept a record 99 seats, forming Official Opposition, and bringing their Quebec caucus up to 33. The dwindling Liberals were left with 66 seats, the Alliance 10, and the Bloc were reduced to 9. Meanwhile, the nature of the AV system meant that Elizabeth May was able to convince a critical mass of Canadians to put them first on the ballot. It also didn't hurt that Peter MacKay, who had only been married to Belinda Stronach for one year, was caught having a torrid affair with a staffer on a military helicopter. As a result, Elizabeth May (Central Nova) and Adriane Carr (Vancouver Centre) became the Green Party's first-ever elected MPs.

In light of the events that transpired with the Alliance, and the mathematical reality, he was unable to rely on the Alliance as a partner in the House - nor did he want to be associated with the scandalized Liberals. With the assistance of elder statesmen Bill Davis and Ed Broadbent, Brison brokered a deal with the NDP in which he would support key planks of Layton's platform in exchange for two years of stable government, and also surprised Canadians by appointing Layton as deputy PM. Kennedy stayed on as interim leader for a few months, and ultimately his party opted for Michael Ignatieff in the January 2010 leadership convention. Ignatieff, sensing a political vacuum on the right, decided to take the Liberals to further right than the PC-NDP governing accord. His most audacious legacy was to gain the endorsement of big oil companies in Alberta, after agreeing to make unrestricted Western energy development a key plank of his platform. This ultimately saw his former leadership foes cross the floor - Bob Rae to the Progressive Conservatives, and Stéphane Dion to the Green Party. Ignatieff was often seen giving press conferences side-by-side with new Alliance leader Vic Toews.

Shortly into 2010, ongoing teamwork between the PCs and NDP was blindsided by Jack Layton's prostate cancer diagnosis. Interim leader Denise Savoie took over the role of Deputy PM during Layton's illness. He ultimately decided to step down from the leadership in June 2010 but remain in caucus. Meanwhile, Olivia Chow had started taking intensive French classes since that 2007 election that had seen the first New Democrats elected in Quebec, sensing that it would be a necessary asset for the future. In November 2010, Chow won the federal NDP leadership convention. Chow and Brison did not always see eye-to-eye, but they agreed to respect the governing accord. When Layton fell ill again in late July, she considered appealing to Brison to delay the impending election call; however, Layton insisted she proceed as planned. Thus, in August 2011, Brison called an election for September. When Jack Layton passed away on August 22, 2011, the election was a mere two weeks in the future. Chow rode an Orange Wave of public affection and her party was able to form a minority government. However, Brison's PCs lost a considerable number of seats as Alliance voters were no longer willing to put his party first, and NDP voters were still wary of placing the PCs second. Instead, the Liberals benefited more handily from Alliance transfers and formed the Official Opposition with 118 seats - including a strong Alberta showing. Nonetheless, the NDP's 125 seats were enough to form a governing accord with Brison's PCs (25 seats) and an invigorated Green Party (10 seats), which had received a bump in support after disaffected environmentalists fled the Liberal party, and a greater number of transfers from the NDP. The Alliance won 28 seats, failing to benefit either from Liberal or PC transfers in any great number, and the Bloc was reduced to 2.

Just a thought experiment...

Aristotleded24

Leftyinvestor, you really should flush out that idea and see if you can find a publisher who will make you good money off that!

Here's another idea: 1997 results in the Liberals falling 10 seats short of a majority, and the PCs and NDP back at offical party status. Obviously working with the Bloc is not politically pallatable, and the Reform is still considered "scary." The Liberals have to come off the fence, either govern from the left or from the right. If they go from the left, the NDP can make the case that more NDP MPs gets results, and the Orange Crush might have happened sooner (remember that only the Liberals and NDP had a pan-Canadian presence to speak of, if you overlook the fact that the NDP had no representation in Quebec). If the Liberals govern from the right, the NDP can make the case that it's "Liberal, Tory, same old story."

The other thing to remember is that for all the talk of the "divided right," that applied only to Ontario. The West and Atlantic Canada each had distinct preferences for their right-wing parties, and the Reform/Alliance won that struggle simply out of sheer size. With a minority in 1997, who knows how much traction the old PCs might have managed to gain. Perhaps Reform/Alliance gets wiped out in Western Canada by the NDP because of vote splitting, while the PCs remain intact in Atlantic Canada? Maybe from that point the PCs march westward back through Quebec, Ontario, and the West?

theleftyinvestor

An interesting thought as well, although I was going from the split point of history beginning at the PC leadership convention which in our timeline selected Peter Mackay - and that was well after 1997. :)

Someone on a forum elsewhere once posted a thread hypothesizing another related alternate history - a "disaster averted" scenario where the PCs called the 1993 election a month earlier and the Liberals only got a slim majority, with the PCs hanging on to more seats than Reform.

http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=134307.0

Summary: The one-term Liberals governed from the right. Campbell did not lose her seat but Charest challenged her for the PC leadership and won. Charest became a force to be reckoned with in the 1995 Quebec referendum, leading to a strong 58.7% NO vote. In 1997 Charest won a minority government, but resigned shortly after to move into provincial politics as he did in the real timeline. Harper quit the Reform party and ran against Joe Clark for the leadership, but Clark won and became PM, appointing Harper (who picks up a seat for the PCs in Toronto?) Deputy PM. The Liberal backlash against the failure of their right-wing approach led to Sheila Copps (!) winning the leadership, and the Reform party decided to focus on only running candidates in the West. In 2000 Clark won just a razor's edge shy of a majority and the Bloc was almost wiped out. Canada did go to Iraq in this timeline. Clark won another reduced minority in 2004. Liberals campaigned against the war and formed a minority in 2006 and Copps governed more from the left. Bill Vander Zalm took over the Reform party. Peter Mackay became PC leader in 2007 after a backlash against the apparent front-runner Danny Williams. Copps managed to get a majority government in the 2010 election; the NDP did manage to grow to 8 seats in Quebec but the "Orange Crush" never quite happned.

This is of course someone else's theorizing and not mine. I suppose that if the Liberals had not won a second mandate in 1997, though, then AdScam never really would have been more than a fleeting moment in history, and they would not have been so strongly eradicated from the political landscape by now. The Orange Crush had many causes, but a big part of it was that Layton could fill in a political vacuum that had been left in the wake of Bloc and Liberal unpopularity. 

autoworker autoworker's picture

I think there's potential for a CBC mini series (just before The National). What should they call it?

theleftyinvestor
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Wrong thread