Le Gouvernement

I haven't blogged in ages. This, I can't pass up.

I studied political science and government a bit in university when I got my B.A. in history. I understand the Canadian political system and how it works. Because of this, it is so painful for me to listen to Steven Harper
speak about the his government's defeat because he is appealing to people's basest and most ignorant fears: "the country will fall apart! the separatists will cause Canada to split! a coalition government is not democratic! members of the opposition parties do not have a right to lead the country! run for your lives!!!" All the political scientists are saying that a coalition is fair and legal, but the PM doesn't think so.

In fact, P.M. Harper is absolutely wrong on all of these counts. Many other parliamentary governments all over the world operate successfully with coalition governments. It's really the first leader who presents a viable majority to the head of state (in our case it's the governor general) who gets to be P.M. Take this information from
Countries which often operate with coalition cabinets include: the Nordic countries [Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark], the Benelux [Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg] countries, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan and India. Switzerland has been ruled by a loose coalition of the four strongest parties in parliament since 1959, called the "Magic Formula".
Jeepers! Those countries must be falling apart!!! We just don't get it. We don't operate the same as our neighbours to the south.

The Bloc Québecois knows that they do not have enough support even within their own province to separate from Canada, so the separation fear is illegitimate.

Too many Canadians are simply not informed and they don't care when it matters (59% voter turnout). We are not a republic. We don't elect a president, we elect local representatives and it's their job to decide who gets to lead, not ours. We didn't elect Kim Campbell to be Prime Minister, she was chosen by party officials to take over for Mulroney when he stepped down (the same way Paul Martin got in after Chretien). So, was it "undemocratic" for Campbell to have been named the first woman Prime Minister without getting a mandate from the people to be the P.M? Nope. It's just how the system works. We either accept it or change it.

By the way, I don't like the current system. I'm pro-proportional representation. It forces parties to work together (cooperation has never been in the vocabulary of Parliamentarians) and gives a much more accurate representation of voters. Check out this snazzy *table I put together:

*I went with a slate of electors by province, not by the whole country as that might compromise local parties like the BQ and local representation. I also had to compensate for the two independent MPs as you can't have a slate of independent electors (you must either join or form a party in order to run).

As you can see, it represents the country much more accurately based on popular vote. Hey, and look! The Greens have 20 seats! The BQ has 20 fewer seats and the "coalition" together with the Greens (assuming they would join the coalition) have enough seats (161) to form a majority - without the support of the Bloc (for those afraid of those scary separatists).

Parties are forced to cooperate with other parties and it would be quite rare to pull off a majority government. Remember 1993? Conservatives got 16% of the popular vote, but only got 2 seats (should have been closer to 48) whereas the Bloc Québequois got 13.5% of the vote and got 54 seats. The Liberals got a huge majority government with only 41% of the vote. This system doesn't fairly represent the people, nor does it encourage parties to work together on policy.

A word on public funding of political parties. I like it. It's $1 per Canadian per election. It ensures that parties that are supported by poorer people are not left in the dust by parties supported by richer people or corporations. Plus, if people realize that they are paying for the election and that their dollar will go to one of the parties, they might as well go out and vote and send your money to the party of your choice!

Finally, a word on Dr. Stéphane Dion, leader of the proposed coalition. Those who do not like him, mock him. They mock his English accent (even though it's better than Harper's French one). They mock his athletic ineptitude. They call him schoolyard names whenever possible. I think this is extremely undemocratic. He is an elected member of Parliament in his riding. Dion was nominated to be the leader of the Liberal party by his peers. There is a reason for the tradition of titling the leaders of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition "Honourable." He represents a large portion of Canadians. So, please, let's ease up on the mocking. You may disagree with him, but he has earned the right to lead according to the rules and according to those who elected him.

Don't get me started on the whole economic meltdown...


Anonymous said...

Allow me to correct your errors. This bloodless coup attempt is a disgraceful and undemocratic separatist embracing attempt by the axis-of-idiots to take power because they were unable to earn it through the goodness of Canadians at the ballot box. The fact that you attempt to parse words and explain how it is constitutional, denigrates what democracy is at its core. Of course the provision is in place to do this in a parliamentary system. The issue at hand is using this provision for political gain and not on behalf of the people of this country who overwhelmingly oppose this. The bottom line is that there was no battle cry from Canadian voters authorizing this group of fools to form a new government and nothing within Conservative policy that would precipitate such. Their dirty and vile scheme was done behind closed doors for political gain. And guess what...now that the GG did the right thing and granted Mr. Harper the reprieve, here is what will happen.....
1) Dion will cement his legacy as the biggest loser in Liberal party history.
2) When the next Federal election takes place, (hopefully soon) it will in fact be a majority for the Conservatives.
3) Quebec will get what she deserves. Namely, to be a respected Canadian province that does not receive any more or less then any other province.

Mark my words friend.


Zaak said...

Gee Joe, when you use words like "fools," "vile," "dirty," "loser," and "axis-of-idiots" I feel like I am hearing from a true oracle!

You're making some assumptions here and I want to comment on one in particular that seems to be a common hyperbole in your camp. You say that "...and not on behalf of the people of this country who overwhelmingly oppose this." On what basis can you say this? Have you performed a study? Or are you basing this on a series of comments on CTV.ca? Or maybe you live in Alberta like me? I think you'll find that because many people did not vote Conservative (62%), that there is a rather large contingent of Canadians who are either in favour of the coalition or the fall of Harper's government. My experience so far has been that those who fall in this latter group are far less vocal, far less insulting, and tend to allow the democratic process to follow its course.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zaak.
Well I waited a couple a days and sure enough, three separate actual polls show that I was absolutely right....
.... the majority of Canadians viewed this for what is was...a politically motivated undemocratic attempt to steal power....lets face it, this was a coo attempt and it failed...and to think that there are people who support Dion in running a country when he and his cronies can't even get the delivery of a video in on time...haha...I'm sorry but it's just too funny....Videos made in the Tora Bora studios of al-Qaeda Pictures and smuggled out to al-Jazeera have better production values. And the title of book in the background of the video titled “Hot Air”….lol…Dion and his posse are certainly special I have to admit….

Also, it is not the Conservative supporters who are the vocal minority, but the well organized "union worker associations" and the separatists who could give a damn about the rest of Canada and are only concerned with their own perks and well being....

….and here are a few words Lorne Gunther who is simply stating the facts...
"And if the dream of a coalition government didn't die last Monday afternoon in a Parliament Hill media theatre, it died the following day on the floor of the House of Commons when the Prime Minister read several quotes about the dysfunctionality of Canada uttered by leading Quebec separatists. Bloc MPs rose en masse to cheer.”

I would say that this clearly demonstrates that the separatist leopard had the same spots as always. So c'mon and stand up and support what is in the best interests of Canadians...not separatists in Quebec or politically motivated cronies….


Zaak said...

Joe, your link brings me to a page that states that Harper gained points while the Libs and NDPs dropped. This does not directly indicate two things: 1. that the majority of people opposed the coalition (in fact support fo Harper would lie somewhere in the 40's, far from an overwhelming majority) and 2. that Canadians even understood what was happening in Ottawa.

The truth of the matter is that it was not a crisis for all Canadians, it was a crisis for the sitting government and its supporters because they were not able to hang on to the reins. Harper simply used scare tactics to cause an uproar when in fact the only thing on the line was his job.

Even if the "majority" of Canadians decided that a coalition was undemocratic and decided to topple the government - that in itself would be undemocratic as it would not be a monitored election, nor the voice of Canadians in a measured sense.

The facts remain
- most Canadians would prefer someone other than Harper as Prime Minister (those who voted for someone else)
- given authority by the GG, the coalition has the right to lead the country through democratic means, to say otherwise expresses an ignorance of the system itself (if you think the system is undemocratic, that's fine, but citizens do get to vote for their MP)
- If a coalition formed and gained government, it is because it had the support of the people on election day (the MPs don't storm Parliament in a coup, the arrive there as elected reps.) If the support shifts after the election, that's truly not of importance until another election is called. The general public is swayed this way and that depending on what happens in the news - if we were to call a plebiscite for every issue everytime public opinion shifted, nothing would ever get done.

I do grant that if Dion does not have the support of his party or the coalition, another leader should be chosen to lead within those who were elected - this is not undemocratic as the general public does not directly vote for its Prime Minister as they vote for presidents in the USA (even there it's through the state's electoral college and through party primaries). I think it is self-righteous and untrue for Harper to declare any other potential prime minister an undemocratically elected leader.

A note on the separatists: These MPs represent Canadians and their views. It is undemocratic to declare their views as unimportant.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to sum things up....It is simply ridiculous for you to try to use the fact that "most Canadians would prefer someone other than Harper as Prime Minister (those who voted for someone else)" to bolster your argument in favor of the recent three party shenanigans. In a democracy with more then two parties, it is inevitable that the party who wins the election will have less then 50% of the popular vote. And when you have a province like Quebec who have separatist factions that are not in alignment with real Canadian principles, then of course there will isolated representation that further skewers the will of our great country. Nonetheless, the real fact remains that the Conservatives maintain and are expanding their lead according to the majority of Canadians... “Almost two-thirds of the respondents said they would prefer that Ignatieff find a compromise with Harper to keep the Conservatives in power.”
...so my friend, please get off your high horse and don't preach about democracy and ignorance of the system itself, because your argument about how MP's are elected to represent the views of the voters both defines and undermines what you are preaching about within your blog in the first place...namely, these MP's WERE NOT representing the peoples views when they tried to forge ahead with their embarrassing and ridiculous coup attempt. I do understand that you would love to have anyone other then the Conservatives leading our country. This however must be done through an honest to goodness process at the ballot box. Unfortunately for you and like minded thinkers, I’m happy to say that this is not going to happen soon.

Anonymous said...

You leftist commie!! :-)

Everyone is correct...depending on what side of the fence you are standing on. I, for one, am on the other side of the fence looking at you, not beside you. But, you and I are both entitled to our opinions and we are still allowed to have opinions in this county....I think....