Marking 20 years
of bold journalism,
reader supported.

Coalition 2.0: Open Letter to Ignatieff, Layton and May

I wrote to all three, none answered, so I'm taking this proposal straight to their parties.

John Ryan 26 Mar

John Ryan, Ph.D., is a retired professor of geography and Senior Scholar at the University of Winnipeg.

image atom
This time, create distance from the Bloc.

"Canada's last two elections are proof positive that we have a flawed electoral system. Does it make any sense that it's impossible to get a government that reflects the views of the majority of our population? How is it that a little more than a third of the electorate can determine who forms Canada's government?"

This is how I once began an article on the need for a Liberal-NDP-Green electoral coalition. Find it here.

The article doesn't deal in the abstract. It includes a set of tables that I compiled from the 2008 Elections Canada data which provide the basis for determining that in a coalition, in the next election, the Liberals could win up to 125 seats, the NDP 46, and the Green Party two seats -- for a majority government of 173 seats. The Conservatives would be reduced to 92 members and the Bloc Quebecois to 41.

In the last two elections, almost two-thirds of our electorate did not vote for the Conservatives, yet it is the Conservatives who formed the government. This is a bizarre state of affairs. As should be apparent to everyone, the majority vote was split amongst four parties, and with politics as usual, it is unlikely that this is going to change.

At present we have a dysfunctional political system in which the views of the majority of Canadians cannot be represented by a single political party. Given what's at stake, in the interests of Canada, the opposition parties have an obligation to reconsider their usual political strategies.

Several months back, with a similar message, I wrote to Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May. I also sent them my previously published article on the urgent need for an electoral coalition. The article deals at length with the framework and the advantages of such a coalition. Somehow I didn't expect a response, and I didn't get one. Although the leaders appear determined to go on with politics as usual, I am now writing this open letter with a direct appeal to you members of parliament and to Elizabeth May to get your parties to try a different election strategy.

Conservative majority in reach

From all indications, if an election were to be held in the next while, it appears that the Conservatives may once again form a minority government, but it is not inconceivable that they could get a majority government. Despite their recent success in appearing somewhat innocent and benign, there is no reason to believe that the party has turned its back on its original raison d'etre. Given this, one term of office with a majority could enable them to carry out most of their underlying agenda and do irreparable harm to Canada's social and economic fabric.

A different coalition this time

It should be made clear that an electoral coalition would be totally different from the Dec. 2008 coalition that included the Bloc Quebecois. That coalition was discredited by the Conservatives largely because of two circumstances: 1) the Liberals had been soundly defeated a few weeks before, so for many people it was somewhat unseemly for Stephane Dion to suddenly want to become prime minister, and 2) although the Bloc was not formally part of the coalition and the NDP are far from being socialists, Harper, through distortion and lies, portrayed this as a "socialist" and "separatist" coalition.

At this stage, if the Liberals, the NDP and Greens established a formal coalition, before an election, it would be difficult for the Conservatives to try to discredit this. Importantly, the Bloc would not be part of it. The coalition should be upfront and in the open, as coalitions are in Europe and elsewhere. It's time that people in Canada came to realize that this is now the reality of the situation in our country -- that there is nothing wrong with the centre-left forming a coalition, with a combined platform that reflects the country's political and ideological structure.

Despite entrenched party loyalties, what centre-left Canadians need is a new political entity which the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens could form if they acted creatively and courageously. If they did this it could be the dawn of a new era in Canada.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Elections

  • Share:

Get The Tyee's Daily Catch, our free daily newsletter.

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

Most Popular

Most Commented

Most Emailed


The Barometer

Are You Concerned about Your Municipality’s Water Security?

Take this week's poll