Monday, December 1, 2008

In which I once again leave myself open to a schooling in Canadian politics, from people who actually know what they're talking about

The Science Canada blog has directed me to some very interesting articles recently, and as a result I had a whole post planned on how the new US government might impact on Canadian environmental policies.


Much more immediately interesting things are afoot in Ottawa.

You might remember that our recent election resulted in a minority Conservative government, holding less than 40% of the popular vote (see comments from Okham, ScientistMother, Chall, Dr A and Dr J on this thread for an interesting discussion about the shortcomings of our electoral system).

Rather than engaging and being accountable to the opposition parties, the Conservatives tried to push through legislation that would cripple their ability to fund their future election campaigns. (This was not the only contentious part of the legislation, but seems to have provided a convenient tipping point; ScientistMother has much more detail in her post).

This plan has spectacularly backfired. The two largest opposition parties (who split the left-wing vote in the election, leading to our current situation) have now solidified a formal coalition, and plan to try and overthrow the minority government next Monday, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois.

As I understand it, the possible outcomes are as follows:
  1. Harper (Conservative Prime Minister) asks the Governor General for permission to suspend parliament, thereby avoiding the confidence vote that would bring down his government.
  2. The Liberal-NDP coalition defeats the government in the confidence vote, and the Governor General grants them permission to form a new government with no election.
  3. The Liberal-NDP coalition defeats the government in the confidence vote, and the Governor General dissolves parliament to instigate a new election.
The political commentators seem to be leaning towards option 2, with option 3 as back-up in case the coalition fails.

Given that the popular vote consistently shows that Canada is not a naturally Conservative country, uniting the left seems like a logical and perfectly acceptable step to me. Some might argue that it would have been better to do this before the election, thereby saving us all a lot of hassle. I might agree... right now I'm just enjoying the look on Harper's smug little face. Karma's a bitch, Stephen.

I was saying to some friends recently that I'd love to be Governor General (and as a female immigrant I'd have a decent shot, if the last two incumbents are any guide), given that there seem to be lots of perks and a massive pension without any real responsibility. But right now, Michaƫlle Jean seems to be the most powerful person in the country.

It's all very interesting. And still no mention of this story on the BBC international news website. For shame, BBC, for shame.



  1. It's a bit funny that BBC hasn't put it up since they picked up Italy's (what ever number of) re-election debate/new government after "crisis".

    I haven't seen anything in the papers here either. although today it is all Hillary and Gates! (I have things to say about certain choices but alas, it is not my country nor my war.... but Gates? Really? And that is change how? I get that it is important to have a person in charge who knows the stuff but to keep the Republican CIA agent for at least a year but probably longer.... you've got to explain how that is going to change the war machine.)

    Sorry, back to Canada - lovely leafs.

    I think number 2 is the obvious choice since the whole re-election is too expensive and that the Canadian parliament can reelect the government without new elections. (some other places can't do that).

    All in all, I find it fairly interesting that they want to show the conservatives that much that they don't like them. I kind of wonder what would have happened if conservatives would have asked either NDP or Liberals to for government with them though....

  2. Technically the liberals were willing to govern with the conservatives, that was tacit agreement in passing the thrown speech. Harper thought the Liberals would play dead like they did over the last year. But like Christy Clark said on CKNW, if you give someone a choice between life or death don't be surprised when they choose life. The conservatives are really really trying hard to call this undemocratic, but again this is how a parlimentary system works. And considering they would've done the same when Paul Martin Liberals were defeated IF they had a party to form a coalition with.

  3. Undemocratic my arse! Mr E Man reports that most of his colleagues are in favour of the coalition, with a few whiny Tory exceptions saying "but this isn't what Canadians voted for".

    Um - YES IT IS!

    62% of Canadians did not vote for the Conservatives. A left coalition is much more representative of the population. I hope they pull it off.

    And Chall, yeah, Gates... wtf? I'm glad that Clinton has a role though.

    Oh, and the BBC have finally posted their article. I was surprised it took them so long, they're usually really good at the "obscure country has election" stories.


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