Lib-NDP bedfellows make strange computations.

There was the strangest blog yesterday about some professor computing that an agreement between the Liberals and New Democrats would elect 130 NDP MPs and 70 Liberals in the next federal election. No wonder some Liberals have their nose out of joint about the proposal. There needs to be some clarification of the ground rules before everyone goes off half-cocked.

First and foremost, this one-time non-competitive deal can only be made at the electoral district level. Second, it can only be made in an electoral district held by a sitting Conservative. That means that for the next 338-seat house, we are only dealing with, at the most, 165 electoral districts. These are the ridings that we are addressing—no others.

If you think that the NDP have any chance of holding all 57 seats currently held in Quebec, you must be smoking something that is not yet legal. Those seats are fair game for Liberals who are seeking redemption in Quebec. And they are going to win a bunch of them.

And nobody said there is a safe NDP seat elsewhere. Frankly, the NDP has much to answer for after this current Parliament reaches the end of its rope. The NDP has been a weak and ineffective official opposition. Under Leader Thomas Mulcair, the NDP has lacked a game plan and has shown no sign of a strategy heading into the next election.

Looking at the figures from the 2011 federal election, you would not expect more than 100 or so electoral districts to reach agreement on selecting a single candidate to run under the Liberal-NDP banner. In some cases the nomination process could be a disaster with highly partisan candidates from each side not accepting the joint decision. You could then end up with just 80 or so ridings running a candidate under the combined Liberal-NDP banner.

For the sake of argument, suppose that the outcome of the election was 100 Conservatives, 100 Liberals and 100 New Democrats with just 38 Lib-NDP. Those 38 MPs would have the power to choose the next Prime Minister and to write the conditions of their support. They would be fools to just return to their normal party.

It would be wonderful. Parliament would be able to return to the original concept. It would be the party leader who could gather the most support who would go to the Governor General and claim the job of Prime Minister. It would return the real power in Parliament to the Members of the House of Commons—where it is supposed to be.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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