Sunday, November 30, 2008

These are interesting times

Normally federal Canadian politics are pretty boring compared to politics around the country. There aren't that many controversies or scandals, and things that happen during the Parliamentary sessions are unremarkable.

You might remember that we had an election about six or eight weeks ago and another election about two years ago, and that both elections resulted in minority governments. This means that no one party holds power and so in order to pass new bills, lots of compromise needs to be made with other parties to get them to vote for the proposals. This can be good because it brings balance to new bills and has apparently wrought some of the best legislation ever passed. A minority government is inherently unstable because no one holds all the power.

Right now, the Conservative party headed by Stephen Harper forms the minority government, and that's almost certainly going to change one way or another. The other parties that have seats in the House -  the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois - have hammered out a deal where they will form a coalition government (well, the Bloc will support this government but not be part of it) for the next thirty months if a non-confidence vote in the Conservative government next Monday is passed *and* the Governor General approves.

This is so exciting!! Only one event , 80 years ago, comes close to this proposal. And there's no guarantee that this crazy proposal will go through - the Governor General can decide to hold yet another election if a House vote shows non-confidence in the Conservatives. Nevermind the fact that the last two elections resulted in minority governments and another election would probably do the same thing. Not to mention that elections are expensive and why, in these times, would we spend money on that - the Governor General could make this call.

Apparently there's a third possible outcome, and that's is if the Prime Minister suspends but does not dissolve Parliament (prorogues it). A non-confidence vote could then not take place - but then, neither could any other business. I suspect that this option would delay the inevitable non-confidence vote, but I'm not sure.

This is all very exciting and will definitely be an historic event no matter how it plays out. The non-confidence vote is set for December 8. I don't know what the long-term implications are for any of these options, so I expect to be doing some research over the next week. And glued to the tv/internet next Monday :)

What do you all think? Do any of these options appeal to you? Which do you think would be best for the country in the current economic climate (they're saying we're in a recession and the Big 3 automakers aren't doing well, which will have huge impacts on Ontario)?


Greg said...

Always dangerous to wade in on politics on the internet, but I have time on my hands these days....

I think suspending Parliament is a bad idea. The government--in whatever form--needs to do some actual governing. Harper doing so would be just petty, especially given his past maneuvering to form coalitions and set aside the government during Martin's tenure.

Calling another election is an even worse idea. It would also prevent actual governing and there's no reason to believe the outcome would be any different than the last two. I suspect voter turnout might sink even lower.

Anonymous said...

I hope that, although the Conservatives have now taken back the worst of the Proposal, the Liberals, NDP and Block should contact them and propose to work together. Also, with the suggestion that some of the worst items that they proposed not be resubmitted. It should be pointed out that the economy is more important than bickering within parliament. Whatever happens, it will be interesting.

Victor Luk said...

I'm torn with this one. Doing nothing is not going to help the economy. I think the conservatives learned that lesson.

However, the coalition would be headed by Dion who was flatly rejected by the voters.

I think the best thing for Canada is for the conservative government to prorogue until the new year and come back with a good economic stimulus package that the coalition would be unable to reject.

In all likelihood, the coalition is going to reject the package anyway because honestly, this is just a power grab.