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Liberals pour cold water on 'Stop Harper' coalition idea

Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Gatineau, Quebec April 29, 2010.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

Stephen Harper's Conservatives are warning Canadians they can't afford a coalition government of Michael Ignatieff, the NDP and Bloc as another Liberal muses about a merger of progressives on the left.

And Michael Ignatieff's Liberals are quoting Voltaire in dismissing the Tory view.

This is in reaction to a story in the Globe's Ottawa Notebook this morning in which Sam Lavoie, the Young Liberal President, says he supports a merger of the left to defeat the Harper Conservatives.

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He wants to encourage discussion and debate this summer among Liberals about the idea. However, he doesn't want to involve the Bloc as it is not a federalist party.

Never mind, the Tories still jumped all over this.

In a missive sent out from Harper Conservative headquarters today, Tory strategists say, "We can't afford NDP co-management of the economy. And we most certainly cannot afford a policy veto for the Bloc Quebecois - the glue that made the last Coalition attempt possible."

The Tory memo, circulated to supporters and MPs, says about a coalition, which Canadians overwhelmingly rejected two years ago: "Canada's economic recovery would be in the hands of Bob Rae, a failed former NDP Premier and Jack Layton, an untested tax and spend NDP leader; and Canada's government would have a Bloc Quebecois veto dangling over its head on a daily basis."

Over the past few weeks there has been speculation and discussion about a merger of the NDP, Liberals and Green Party as the national opinion polls show the Harper Tories not budging from minority government territory.

The only way to break the gridlock, some believe, is to merge on the left as the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives did on the right.

Not surprisingly, this debate and discussion seems has touched a nerve with the Conservatives.

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"In the last week, senior Ignatieff Liberals MPs David McGuinty, Bob Rae, Marlene Jennings have called for a Liberal-Bloc Quebecois-NDP coalition," says the Tory memo, which is not entirely true, given that statements made by the MPs cited were taken out of context and speculative.

The Ignatieff Liberals, meanwhile, do not agree with the Conservatives or their YLC president.

"I hate to quote Voltaire," says a senior Ignatieff official. "I know we'll be accused of 'elitism'. But you may know his words: ' Mentez, mentez, il en restera tojours quelque chose', which can be translated, poetry aside, as 'lie, lie some of it will stick', which seems to be the only way the Conservatives can operate."

The official says that the Young Liberal President can say whatever he wants but it's not the view of Mr. Ignatieff and others.

"The reality is that the Liberals will be campaigning in the next election to form a Liberal government," says the Ignatieff official. "And that contrary to the Conservatives, a Liberal government would work with all parties to make Parliament more efficient and represent all Canadians."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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