April 19, 2015 10:45 am

Let’s save the C-word talk until after the ballots are cast: Rae


WATCH: Former Liberal leader Bob Rae discusses reasons opposition parties don’t want to talk coalition until after ballots are cast.

OTTAWA —‘Tis the season … to be speculating. But there’s a limit to how much Canadians can, or even should, try to figure out ahead of this year’s federal election, said Bob Rae, former Liberal leader and Ontario premier.

His suggestion: stop when you reach the point where you’re trying to guess the party leaders’ post-election moves.

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“What the [poll] numbers tell me today is that there is everything to play for, for each of the parties,” Rae said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “All of them can … possibly win outright the next election.”

In just six short months the campaigning and posturing will wrap up, sending Canadians to the ballot boxes and a new government to the House of Commons. How different or similar the 42nd Parliament might look to today’s, though, that’s the big mystery pollsters, academics and political aficionados are trying to figure out.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau tumbles from top pick for prime minister, poll shows

Well, it’s looking like a minority, at least according to recent polls. But it doesn’t end there; the talk simply moves to the possibility of, yes, the old C-word, coalitions.

If Canadians elect a minority on Oct. 19, will the second and third place parties join forces — whether through coalition or an accord of some sort?

“You’ve got to hold back on speculating what’s going to happen until you see what the number are after an election,” said Rae, who served as Liberal leader until party members elected Justin Trudeau.

There is a reality, and that is that there will not be a coalition before the election.

– Bob Rae

The Liberal leader this week was asked at least twice about the possibility of joining forces with the New Democrats in order to take power from the Conservatives, should the possibility present itself.

At first, he said maybe, maybe not. The next day, however, he said absolutely no chance, not even when pigs fly.

READ MORE: Is the race to form federal government as close as it seems? Maybe not, poll suggest

“I don’t think anybody – Mr. Trudeau or [NDP leader Tom] Mulcair, really wants to get into the fame of talking about what might happen after the election,” Rae said, recalling the political “field days” Stephen Harper has had in years past when his opponents have contemplated agreements.

“I think Mr. Trudeau is saying, ‘Look, no I don’t want to get into that fame and I don’t want to give anybody any way of thinking that there is some other way of defeating Mr. Harper other than voting for the Liberal party.”

There is everything to play for, for each of the parties.

– Bob Rae

Whether everyone or anyone can hold off on the coalition speculation for six months remains an unknown, Rae admitted.

“But there is a reality and that is that there will not be a coalition before the election,” he said. “There certainly was talk over the years about cooperation between the parties in terms of presenting candidates.  There is no prospect of that happening.  The NDP doesn’t want to do it.  The Liberals don’t want to do it.  Not going to happen.”

As to what happens after the votes are cast and counted? Rae says that’s another story, one to remain untold until the fall.

By the numbers:

WATCH: Walk through a virtual House of Commons with us as we look at the number of seats each party secured in 2011 and the projected results for the 2015 election.

Canada is about to play musical chairs in the House of Commons. This election year, though, 30 more chairs will be added, reflecting the growth and distribution of the country’s population.

In 2011, the Conservatives won 166 seats.

It was the NDP’s best showing ever at 103.

The Liberals had their worst showing, winning only 34 seats.

The Bloc Quebecois won 4, and the Green Party won 1.

Now redistributing the 2011 outcome with the new seats would have given the Conservatives 22 more seats, 188 overall and a strong majority, and would have left the opposition parties even further behind. But voter preference has shifted since 2011 so let’s have a look at that.

On that election night, the Conservatives won 40 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP 31 per cent and the Liberals a shocking 19 per cent.

In the most recent Ipsos poll for Global News, everything is much closer; the Conservatives in front but at 33 per cent, the Liberals 31 per cent, and the NDP running third with 23 per cent.

So what does that mean?

Both threehundredeight.com and Laurier University crunch all the recent polls to project seats for each party in the next election.  So we crunched all of their recent numbers and here is what came out:

That big spread the Conservatives had at 188 drops considerably down to 139. That’s short of 170, the new threshold that Stephen Harper needs for a majority. The Liberals would jump to second with 117 seats, the NDP back to third with 77 seats.

WATCH: The extended interview with former Liberal leader and Ontario premier Bob Rae.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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