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Monday, April 25, 2005

The New Democrat Math 

Jack Layton has offered NDP support to the Liberals in exchange for some budget changes. I have heard some people (okay, it was in the Vancouver Canucks newsgroup) suggest this was an evil political ploy, but I have no problem with it. The NDP has no chance of forming government anytime soon, so joining a coalition is their only chance to directly form government policy. And that's what they should be trying to do.

The problem I have (and apparently, from the cool reception they're getting from Mr. Martin, the problem the Liberals also have) is that the NDP's support is not very useful. NDP + Liberal = 151. That leaves 153 Tories, Bloc, and independents arrayed against them. Of those, 2 are ex-Liberals: Carolyn Parrish, kicked from caucus for trash-talking to Americans, and David Kilgour, who proved that at least one Liberal has a capacity for shame when he resigned from caucus. The third is Chuck Cadman, the first federal MP I can recall who ran and won as an independent, after he lost the Conservative nomination in his riding to a mass-membership drive by the "winning" candidate (who was then utterly destroyed by voters in the actual election).

Ms. Parrish and Mr. Cadman (!) have apparently indicated support for the Liberal budget already, while Mr. Kilgour is planning to vote against it.

The situation is confusing. So much so that I have articles in two papers that suggest different seat counts. I've run the numbers myself:

NDP + Liberals = 151
Bloc + Conservatives = 153
Independents = 3

There are 307 seats in parliament right now (one unfilled due to the death of Liberal Lawrence O'Brien, representing Labrador; byelection to follow). A vote is won, therefore, with 154 votes, assuming no abstensions or absentees. For those of you playing the home game, that means that an NDP/Liberal coaltion would be beyond tenuous.

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