Coalition Hell

There is nothing more dangerous to a functioning western democracy than a coalition government.

It is a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at the heart of representative government.

It is the body of a dead cat thrown down the well of free and open elections to poison it.

Around the world, countries which govern through coalition, countries such as the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Australia, have fallen into the cesspit of Orwellian darkness.

Once you start down the road to Coalition Hell, there is no turning back.

Which is why in the current campaign we should be thankful that the Prime Minister and his party and the nation's media have focused laser-like on the merest hint of a coalition.

Which is also the reason that in the health clubs, the coffee shops, the supermarkets, the university common rooms across the country the only thing voters are concerned about is a possible coalition which would destroy their future and the future of their children and grandchildren.

From the humblest kitchen table or Tim Horton's to the hushed glamour of the most expensive restaurant, the only issue of any importance clearly is the coalition threat.

We in the media were quick to recognize the danger. From Day One after the fall of the government, every broadcast carried multiple coalition stories. Every newspaper was chock-a-block with the dire warnings.

The Globe and Mail went so far as to assign a reporter to count the number of times Mr. Harper has used the word coalition in a speech - twenty-one times.

Now the Liberal Leader has dismissed any thought of a coalition but is he serious or has he become infected with PCD: Persistent Coalition Disease?

The only thing I can think of that is worse than the idea of a coalition is the idea of a hidden agenda.

We all remember when the Liberals accused the Conservatives and Mr. Harper of having a hidden agenda.

That too made all kinds of headlines. Soon voters were talking about Mr. Harper's hidden agenda.

He couldn't go anywhere without reporters shouting at him: "Show us your hidden agenda," momentarily forgetting that the only value in having a hidden agenda is in keeping it hidden.

Did we really think that Mr. Harper was going to say to the press: "Ah, by the way, at the two o'clock newser, I'll have a few things to say about my hidden agenda."

This election campaign was hardly a week old and it was Mr. Harper this time accusing Mr. Ignatieff and Jack Layton of having a hidden agenda.

About Mr. Layton, I can say with some certitude that his hidden agendas over the years have been pretty much open books - blindingly obvious open books.

About Michael Ignatieff, can we be sure?

If his hidden agenda is about putting solar panels in every school and giving every poor person 50 shares of Apple stock, well that's all to the good.

But what if his hidden agenda is more nefarious?

What if his hidden agenda is a coalition of socialists, separatists and beekeepers and morticians and vegetarians?

If there is anything more threatening to a democracy than either a hidden agenda or a coalition, it is a hidden coalition.

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