(Dec 5, 2008)

It's a strange feeling to return from a tropical vacation to find the country in the midst of a Banana Republic-like political crisis.

To my well-rested eyes, the first thing that jumped out as I played catch-up with the overheated news was how quickly the mainstream media and general public bought into the hard-line partisan positions that were being bandied around.

Thankfully, yesterday's decision by the Governor General to accede to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request to suspend Parliament until late next month will impose a cooling-off period on the sweaty rhetoric and dank distortions that have been steaming up the political spectrum.

I suspect that when Parliament resumes, a wiser and chastened Harper will bring with him the kind of crowd-pleasing budget that the now-deflated opposition parties will be hard-put to defeat in a non-confidence vote.

But while familiarizing myself with the stupidly provocative moves and miscalculations by Harper that sparked the turmoil, I was constantly amazed at the unending references to the "Liberal-NDP coalition" that was going to set things right by taking over the government.

Even in my sun- and rum-addled state, it was clear to me this was in fact a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition hiding behind the fig leaf that the Bloc wasn't really part of the cartel because no cabinet seats had been assigned to them.

Oh, come on.

Without the Bloc's 49 seats, the 114 Liberals and New Democrats could neither have turfed out the 143 Conservatives nor maintained their own grip on power.

Despite much of the national media's willingness to buy into the coalition's misleading definition of itself, the fact that the Bloc would have been consulted and given a veto over major issues while agreeing not to move or support motions of non-confidence made them a de facto working member of the coalition.

There's simply no escaping the base truth that in their opportunistic play for power, the Liberals and NDP were willing to get under the sheets with the party whose reason for being is to break up the country.

Some claim that the formal pact was no different than what the Conservatives had done when they were in Opposition and co-operated with the Bloc in advancing legislation or attempting to bring down the Martin government.

That's complete nonsense.

There's a huge difference between simply playing the parliamentary game and contractually giving influence and power to a sovereignty party with a separatist agenda.

Back in 2005, the Liberals scathingly referred to the co-operation between the Conservatives and the Bloc as an "unholy alliance."

By their own standards, that means they've gone a step further by actually signing a deal with the devil.

Governor General Michaelle Jean clearly did the right and responsible thing in suspending Parliament.

If the coalition had taken power, the Bloc would have scored a tremendous coup.

They would have undermined national unity by alienating the West, polarized public opinion, and weakened the central government by elevating a sad sack to the office of prime minister.

It's not surprising that the New Democrats were willing to go along with the dirty deal. It's the only way they'll ever sniff the inside of a cabinet office.

But it's a sad measure of how desperate the Liberals are to regain power that they were willing to foist Stephane Dion on us, a man they deemed not good enough to lead their own party but somehow good enough to run the country.

Despite what Conservative propaganda says, there was nothing illegal or undemocratic about the coalition's bid for power.

But both the Liberals and the NDP should be deeply ashamed of how they were willing to prostitute themselves to the Bloc to achieve it.

Andrew Dreschel's commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.