Its time to throw some cold water on talk of an NDP/Liberal Coalition. Lets start with blogger Dan Arnold, expanding on pollster Frank Graves' claim that an NDP/LPoC merger would not be "perfectly efficient"--that is, not all NDP or LPoC supporters would migrate over to the new political entity:
I'd say "not perfectly efficient" is a gross understatement. When the Alliance and PCs merged, they managed to keep a whopping two-thirds of their 2000 vote (from 44.3% combined in 2000 to 29.6% in 2004)...this, despite being given the gift of Adscam. And remember, that was a reunion - this ain't. By Graves' own numbers, just 37% of Liberal voters list the NDP as their second choice, while 35% of NDP voters list the Liberals as their second choice.
Let's run a quick experiment on the 2008 vote totals. Let's say 80% of the Liberal vote decides to vote for the new Liberal Democrats and their catchy Red and Orange colour scheme, 10% votes Conservative, and 10% stay home and watch American Idol. For NDP voters, I doubt the transfer would be quite as fluid - after all, the new party would be led by a Liberal and if NDP voters really cared about stopping Harper or being in power, they'd just vote Liberal in the first place. So, maybe half of them go along with the deal, a quarter vote green, and a quarter stay home. In terms of popular vote, that would actually work out to a 73% vote transfer to the new party...above the Alliance-PC merger rate.
Another point: negotiating a merger would be a long, fraught process. A race for the new party's leadership would be required, and a convention, and etc. etc. Lots of money, lots of of time, and no reason for Harper not to drop the writ at an inconvenient moment. If you worry about preventing a CPoC majority more than you worry about the fact that after a mere four years on the outside, some Liberals are jonesing uncontrollably for a return to power, then this is a mess to be avoided. Remember, the Reform/Progressive Conservatives occurred in the shadow of a majority government; they had plenty of time to get their act together. Our new entity would not have this luxury.
Crafting an NDP/LPoC working arrangement should our next election give these parties the largest block of seats in the HOC would be something I could get behind. But why worry about it now? People talk about the recent partnering between the U.K.'s Cameron and Clegg; remember, however--this did not become a viable option until several weeks into that particular election campaign. None of the major U.K. parties were willing to assume and prepare for their own defeat in advance.
Finally, lets assume (and its a pretty good assumption given the current state of the polls) that our next parliament looks pretty much like this one. That is, a Tory minority, probably with a few less seats than they currently hold. What happens then?
Well, most likely Stephen Harper retires. Jack Layton too; he's been NDP head for a long time, and the party's support with him in that position has most likely peaked. He has also been fighting cancer. Most intriguingly, there have been rumors that, should Elizabeth May not win a seat in the House (and she won't, given that her opponent is Garry Lunn), she will step down as Green Party Leader. That leaves Michael Ignatieff as the last person standing (assuming Liberals don't panic and dump him, or he doesn't quit and retreat into academe) and the other parties in some turmoil. Green voters would be especially ripe for plucking because, lets face it, after Lizzy May they're back to a gang of aging hippies raising money by selling dream-catchers and holding salmon bakes.
In short, for the Liberal Party of Canada, patience may bring opportunity. Panic inevitably precedes a rout.