Canada’s Liberals and NDP should merge

Can the Liberals and the NDP please just merge already?


The Liberal and New Democratic parties have now spent years operating under the apparent assumption that the key issue is leadership and that if they can just find the right leader they will be able to form a government.

I think a much bigger problem is vote splitting. Different voters have the NDP, Liberals, and Greens as their top choice. Probably, the second-place preferences of these voters are also for one of those three parties. And yet, because votes get split between left-leaning parties, the Conservatives end up governing.

Arguably, it would be preferable to reform the electoral system, rather than respond to the united right by uniting the left. What this alternative proposal lacks is practicality: the federal Conservative Party is unlikely to replace an electoral system that has allowed them to govern with a minority of support for so long, and no other party is in a position to influence legislation.


Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Canada’s Liberals and NDP should merge”

  1. It is mindbogglling how the stated purposes of forming government by the Liberals and the NDP are not being acted on with the obvious solution of a merger.

  2. Another alternative is for the NDP and the Liberals to agree to run only one candidate in each riding where a Conservative could be unseated by such a decision. I would welcome if that agreement would inlcude the Green Party.

    It is a win-win solution but one that would require one party or perhaps two parties in a riding to step aside – and therefore a level of concession and maturity.

  3. Such an arrangement could work for producing a coalition government. That could be less of a stress for party members. Right now, Liberals seem intent on reviving their faded brand while the NDP perceives some hope of taking over as the official opposition indefinitely. Canadians, I think, would be much better served if they would cooperate on building a coalition that can take power.

    Such an informal candidate winnowing process could be even more effective if it incorporated the Green Party as well as the Liberals and NDP. It could be an effective way of reducing their mutual vote-splitting problem.

  4. Although not a formal coalition, in the 1960’s the minority Liberal government of Lester Pearson with the support of the NDP introduced the national heath plan. What a success. In a poll of what unites us in Canada recently, the national helath plan had top billing.

  5. “The Liberal Party, for example, is the party of visible minorities and Catholics, of Quebec federalists, of francophones outside of Quebec. The Conservative Party is traditionally the party of Protestants, rural Canadians, and Westerners. And the New Democratic Party is a party of union members, women, and increasingly urban dwellers (Bibby, 1990; Blais, 2005; Blais et al., 2002).”

    Loewen, Peter. “Affinity, Antipathy and Political Participation: How Our Concern For Others Makes Us Vote”. CJPS 2010.

  6. Q: Liberals and New Democrats in this province still, and kind of probably always will, have unfinished business between each other. Sometimes it seems that the acrimony is fiercer between those two than between, say, Liberals and Conservatives.
    A: It’s visceral. I think we are close enough in terms of our philosophies that we regularly eat each other’s lunch and I think that is really hard to stomach on both sides. You know, when Andrea Horwath brought out her platform in 2014 we were way to the left of her. She had, you know, a page on education. We had a full-blown education strategy.

    So I think the Ontario NDP and the Liberals have done a dance over the years as to who is going to be the progressive voice. We’ve definitely carved out the centre-left. The NDP, for whatever reason, has not chosen to go far left. They’ve stayed in the centre with us. That’s made it really hard to impossible for them to be elected. But it hurts us. Obviously it hurt us in the last election. Enormously.

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