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'Coalition' shouldn't be a dirty word in Canada, say political scientists

(Cormac Mac Sweeney, 1310 NEWS)
Summary

In this tight election race, 'coalitions' have become a hot topic


Canada doesn't have much experience with them, but coalitions are 'perfectly legitimate,' says a political scientist


Coalitions may not benefit smaller parties that join them


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Polls indicating a close race in the federal election has prompted plenty of talk about coalitions.

Critics have suggested coalitions simply aren’t what is done in Canada, and while they don’t happen often, political scientists say that doesn’t mean they are illegitimate.

Political scientist David Moscrop with the University of Ottawa says they are nothing to fear.

“It’s perfectly legitimate, in fact, very common around the world, but it’s uncommon for us,” he says.

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He says the gap between the lead parties in terms of seat count will factor in.

“So, for instance I think that, if the Liberals and the Conservatives are within one or two seats of one another, we’re going to have a very different discussion than if the Conservatives have 10 or 15 more seats than the Liberals.”

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Professor Max Cameron with UBC points out joining a coalition isn’t always advised for parties, however.

“It’s often the case that the smaller party, in particular, suffers badly. A loss of identity, without winning much credit for what the government actually is able to accomplish, and we’ve seen that with the Liberal Democrats in Britain, where they went into coalition with the Conservatives, and then, in the next election, they were heavily-punished by the voters.”