Backroom deals with separatists


So I WASN'T going to write more about this. But then I read this article (I was at work, working on a LOCAL political story during the actual address/s).

In case you care, here's my thoughts:

In his five-minute, pre-recorded statement, Harper spoke bluntly against the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, saying the federal government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together.
Recorded? Really? Even Bush has gone live on less pressing issues than a coup d'etat.
In a pre-taped rebuttal broadcast shortly after Harper's address, Dion defended the notion of a proposed coalition government "as normal and current practice in many parts of the world."
I don't know guys. IP, I know you have written about this extensively... but if it was THAT normal to hold an election, get a minority government, then have the opposition governments team up and try to "de-throne" you... then why haven't many of us heard of such an option before? My argument is that it is NOT normal, it is used in SPECIAL circumstances. So please, people, stop calling it normal!!!

Moreover, the Conservatives have lost the confidence of the majority of members of the House of Commons, meaning "they have lost the right to govern," Dion said

Fair enough. He has lost the confidence of the house. But I'd really like to hear what THE PEOPLE think. I've been hearing so many freakin' politicians as of late, but no "the Canadian consensus" polls or anything. Granted I guess you could call the election an opinion poll... but when people voted, they thought they were voting for ONE governing party. Not a coalition.

He will visit Gov. Gen. Michaƫlle Jean, who returned to Ottawa on Wednesday from Europe, Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET to discuss the issue, although it was not immediately clear what Harper will ask her to do.

WHAT? The current government is crumbling and the GG is going to make sure she gets her bagel with cream cheese and latte before discussing it with the PM? WHY are they not meeting tonite? She's already in Ottawa? Have a dinner date. DEAL WITH THIS.

Now before y'all jump on me for one thing or another, I don't pretend to completely understand what's going on here. I also don't really subscribe to any of the Canadian political parties (I can't actually, it says in my job description). So I'm just here to spew out CAPTIAL LETTERS and give My Humble Opinion.

But you guys are more than welcome to argue about this in my comments section (as you've already done on my last post hahaha).

Until we hear more...


Meandering Michael December 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM  

Wanna do a story on "Northern Bloggers Advocate for a Federal Consensus Government System"?

Idealistic Pragmatist December 4, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

A few things:

1) Stephen Harper didn't "get a minority government" as a result of the election. The voters got a parliament in which Stephen Harper's Conservatives got about 46% of the seats. That parliament (and not the voters) decided to allow that party to form a government on their own despite not holding a majority of the seats, under the assumption that he would treat the minority as a minority and work with the other parties. When it became clear that they weren't going to do that, they tried another option.

2) If you're asking why so many Canadians didn't realize that we vote for a parliament and not a government, I have no idea why that is. I find it incredibly disturbing. I became a Canadian in my early thirties, and that sort of stuff was part of what I had to study for my citizenship exam. I had only assumed it was taught in Canadian high schools, too.

3) If you're asking why this sort of thing has only been theory so far rather than practice in this particular country, that's another question altogether. Let me take a stab at it. Our voting system (not our parliamentary system, I'm talking now about the way we vote and translate those votes to seats, which is a separate thing) is called First-Past-the-Post. One of the characteristics of that system is that it tends to produce political cultures of only two parties, and legislative bodies in which one party has more than 50% of the seats (even if they don't have anywhere near 50% of the vote). This used to happen in Canada, too. For various reasons I won't get into here, it doesn't anymore, and parliaments in which nobody had a minority of the seats are the new normal, but it did happen just that way for a very long time. So that means that in this country, we don't have a lot of experience with having to deal with the various things that can happen when no single party gets more than 50% of the seats. One of those things is governments losing the confidence of the House a lot more easily. Another of them is the rest of the House being in a position to form a different government among them. This last one is particularly rare in Canada (although not necessarily in other places) because we tend to have a highly-charged partisan political culture (for other reasons I won't get into) in which people aren't accustomed to working together across party lines.

I'm not sure which one of those answers addressed what you were asking, but I hope one of them did.

Idealistic Pragmatist December 4, 2008 at 2:03 PM  

and parliaments in which nobody had a minority of the seats are the new normal

Argh, that should read "and parliaments in which nobody HAS a MAJORITY of the seats IS the new normal." Sorry for the crappy writing in a journalist's blog...

Also, I have to respond to this:

I guess you could call the election an opinion poll... but when people voted, they thought they were voting for ONE governing party. Not a coalition.

If they thought they were voting for a governing party, or a prime minister, or whetever, they were just plain wrong. They do that in the U.S., but we don't do that here. Individually we vote for our MP, and collectively we vote for a parliament.

I wonder: does this mistaken assumption come from watching American politics and assuming our system works the same way? Because that's a really disturbing thought.

Mongoose December 4, 2008 at 8:53 PM  

What's not normal is having a system where someone like Harper can blunder his way to Prime Minister. If we had a better constitution, he'd never have been Prime Minister, and none of this would be happening. But, given that we do have that constitution, and we did end up with Harper as Prime Minister, I find it very normal that thing unfolded this way.

And as to why so many people didn't realize it was possible... How many people do you know who really, truly, even read the platform statement of the party they voted for, let alone bother knowing how our government works? Canadians don't care about their government, that's why it took them by surprise.

And if you do a story about northern bloggers "advocating" for whatever it is (all three of them...), the next week you can do a story about "Northern Bloggers Think Northern Bloggers Are Talking out their Arse aobut the Federal Government." In fact, we can feed you stories about our variously unconstructive opinions for weeks, if the CBC actually wants to do stories about what bloggers have to say about the whole thing.