Originally posted on National Post | Full Comment:
Since the idea of an electoral reform pact was first broached — not by me, but by Elizabeth May of the Green Party, by Nathan Cullen of the NDP, and latterly by Joyce Murray in the Liberal leadership race — reaction has split into two camps. Among each party’s members, the notion of a one-time alliance formed around the need to fix our broken electoral system plainly excites some interest: it propelled Cullen’s longshot campaign for party leader into contention, as it may be doing for Murray’s. Yet it is dismissed by much of the respective party establishments, as it would seem by most of the punditocracy.
The critics’ objections, in the main, are four. 1. It would be difficult to do. 2. It is unnecessary: the opposition parties will one day defeat the Conservatives, without such a pact. 3. The public would never go for it: not a coalition, or not one with such a narrow focus. 4. If they did win, it is unclear how such a coalition would govern.
The first is undoubtedly true. There are, indeed, any number of reasons why this probably won’t happen. What’s being discussed is whether it should. Suffice it to say that if the party leaders think it should, it will. None of the many questions the critics raise — how would the parties agree on a single candidate? who sets the rules? in which ridings? etc. — are insurmountable, in themselves. All that is required is the will.