Canadian Politics, Suddenly Interesting!

Canadian politics are frequently very, very dull – according to even most Canadians, never mind anyone else. No charismatic, exciting leaders. No mobs occupying airports and being threatened by the military. Nobody burning cars in the street.


What we’ve got instead, currently, is a control-freak Prime Minister desperately attempting to hold onto his minority government’s power. CBC quotes PM Harper as wanting to use “every legal means at our disposal to protect our democracy, to protect our economy and to protect Canada,” &mdash but what he mostly seems to want to protect is his own power.

A huge number of Canadians (possibly including PM Harper) appear to have taken a basic Canadian PolSci course… Westminister-style democracies (this would include Canada…) do not, repeat not elect “governments” as Mr. Harper claims. We elect Parliaments, which then form governments. When one party has a clear majority in Parliament (which hasn’t happened in Canada for several Parliaments in a row now) that party forms the government. When you have a minority, generally the largest party gets to be the government &mdash but if a coalition of other parties can make a government work, that is just as legitimate and democratic as a simple minority single-party government.

Seriously, this is very, very basic Canuckistani political science, folks. Why does it seem to be so broadly mis-understood?

For the record, no, I don’t like Mr. Harper. I don’t like any of the current four big-party leaders very much, though. Harper has been trying to run his minority government as if he had a majority, though, and he needs a good, sharp reminder of the other options available under Canada’s system. Which also have the side-effect of removing him from the Prime MInister’s office, to his obvious distress…

The CBC has a good overview article on the current state of the mess. Making Light has a thread on the basic discussion and a spinoff, awesomely geeky thread attempting to express Westminister-style democracy in pseudo-code. Planet Ubuntu readers – go check that last one out, it really is a hoot.

In the meantime, no, we aren’t having a coup up here in the Frozen North. No great anti-democratic seizure of power, really, despite Mr. Harper’s ranting and much confusion at many levels. More people need to take first-year university Political Science courses…

By Brian Burger

Started this site way, way back in November 1998, when the web was young. It's still here, and so am I.

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