Let’s try to follow Harper’s thinking, why not

At last we have clarity on Stephen Harper’s position regarding a potential coalition government. It came last night during the Prime Minister’s interview with Peter Mansbridge.

Harper said: “I think the next time our party will either form a majority or I think we’ll see a coalition of the other parties. That’s my belief. Everything I see points to that.”

Great. That’s as clear as can be. If Harper wins a majority, he continues to govern. If he wins more seats than anyone else – but falls short of a majority – it leads in his mind to a likely coalition government. Got it. Now we can all move on and–

“I of course,” Harper added, still talking for some reason, “will always be happy to see if the people of Canada elect a Conservative minority, I’d be happy to do that.”

Wait, what? But you just said…

Let us dare to venture together into the realm of prime ministerial logic. Please hold tight to the railings. It gets slippery in here.

Harper states clearly that the choice in the next election will be between a Conservative majority and a coalition… UNLESS, of course, the vote winds up pointing to a Conservative minority, which happens to be the only circumstance under which a coalition would ever come together. In Harper’s mind, then, the coalition could totally take power except for not being able to ever take power.

/ stuffs escaping brain back into head

We can all agree on one thing: our Prime Minister has not one cell within his body that would voluntarily cede power to a coalition of opposition parties. You enjoyed Harper’s “first prorogation” (2008) and his “second prorogation” (2009)? You’re going to love his “building a fort in his Centre Block office and refusing to leave” (2011-2018).

But rhetorically, strategically, he loves the concept of a coalition. The Conservative party has done a terrific job of demonizing a constitutionally legitimate notion – the coming together of opposition parties to win the confidence of the House of Commons. So Harper wants to keep alive the idea of a coalition, the threat of it, because it makes us think of Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe exchanging effete handshakes and Jack Layton getting that weird, Gollumy look in his eye at the thought of joining cabinet.

Harper wants to perpetuate the notion of either/or, when so far as he’s concerned it’s actually either/either: a Conservative majority or a Conservative minority. To paraphrase Mackenzie King: not necessarily a coalition, but not necessarily a coalition.

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