Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 17, 2023
The Inevitable Unraveling of Coalition Governments
Coalition governments, formed when two or more political parties join forces to secure power and maintain stability, are often seen as a compromise for the greater good. Yet, history has shown us that such arrangements are not built to last forever. The recent developments in the partnership between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada serve as a stark reminder of this inherent fragility.
The initial optimism that surrounded the Liberal-NDP coalition seemed like a promising harbinger of cooperation in Canadian politics. However, as time has progressed, it’s become apparent that this alliance, which sought to assure cooperation, has instead become a liability for both parties. The primary catalyst for this shift in dynamics is the issue of pharmacare, a central concern for the NDP.
At their policy convention in Hamilton, the NDP drew a line in the sand, passing an emergency resolution that firmly demands the Liberals commit to a “universal, comprehensive and entirely public pharmacare program.” The New Democrats’ resolve in this matter is undeniable, and they have made it clear that weak legislation will not suffice. The NDP’s insistence on robust pharmacare legislation has put the coalition’s unity in jeopardy.
The implications of this growing schism are far-reaching. Should the NDP decide to withdraw their support for the coalition over the pharmacare issue, it would undoubtedly transform pharmacare into a decisive “ballot-box issue” in the next election. This not only illustrates the internal divisions within the coalition but also underscores how coalition governments can unravel over time due to the differing priorities and agendas of their member parties.
The struggle over pharmacare is a clear example of how coalition governments can become victims of their own success. The Liberals and the NDP entered into this arrangement in March 2022 to ensure the survival of the minority government until June 2025. However, it’s essential to remember that such agreements, while initially beneficial for securing power, can become precarious when parties with different policy priorities seek to maintain their distinct identities.
The current standoff between the Liberals and the NDP on pharmacare highlights a broader issue in coalition politics. The partners might find common ground initially, but over time, the unique priorities, electoral strategies, and party identities resurface. As a result, the very cooperation that helped form the government becomes the source of its instability and potential downfall.
In the case of the Liberal-NDP coalition, it’s essential to recognize that the NDP views pharmacare as a pivotal issue that distinguishes them from their Liberal counterparts. While the Liberals had promised a national pharmacare program in the 2019 election, their silence on this matter in the 2021 election has only exacerbated the divide.
As the New Democrats refocus their efforts on recruiting candidates, emphasizing healthcare, and addressing the rising cost of living, it’s evident that they’re preparing for an election where healthcare will be a central concern. The coalition’s future remains uncertain, but the pharmacare dispute underscores the inherent difficulties of maintaining a stable partnership between two parties with differing visions.
The Liberal-NDP coalition’s tumultuous journey over pharmacare is a stark reminder that coalition governments are not built to last indefinitely. These arrangements, formed to ensure stability and cooperation, can become marred by the reemergence of party-specific priorities and agendas. As the coalition struggles to reconcile these differences, the inevitable unravelling of their partnership serves as a cautionary tale for future coalitions in Canada and around the world. (AI)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro. If you’re creative, give illustration a try: