The prospect that the Liberals would concede to not run in all 308 ridings has been the stuff of wild conjecture for about a month. But few thought it was much more than a prolonged game of footsie designed to buy sympathy from a potential Green voters.
But today all signs are that Stéphane Dion intends to follow though. One can only imagine Laurier and Trudeau would be displeased.
Putting aside the dubious strategic merit of reaching out to the 6% of Canadians who say they will vote Green and the 3-4% who actually will, it’s not too early to conclude that this announcement is going to prove calamitous for the Liberals.
The most obvious reason is that the Liberals have ended their claim to “strategic voting.”
Liberals have won recent elections by telling supporters of other parties that only the Liberal Party is strong enough to stop Stephen Harper in all regions of the country.
In the next election, this argument will be counted by: “if that’s so, then why aren’t you running in all 308 ridings? And by extension of that logic, if you really want to defeat Harper, why don't you step aside in ridings that the NDP and Bloc already hold or where your party is not competitive?
For this reason and more than a few others, Dion’s decision is going to prove extraordinarily short sighted.