Elections With Benefits - Macleans.ca

Elections With Benefits


Very good column today from William Watson debunking the whole “Seinfeld election” stupidity. This election has been useful and edifying in all sorts of ways. In particular:

A second change is that Canadians are now much more familiar with how their system of government works. We elect members of Parliament at whose sufferance the prime minister serves. Nothing says the prime minister must come from the party with the most members. All that’s required is that his or her government have the confidence of the House. It may not be the best system in the world but it’s our system and now more of us understand it. Who knows? With a week of potential political education left, maybe even Harper will come around to understanding it


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Elections With Benefits

  1. "It may not be the best system in the world but it's our system and now more of us understand it."

    Typical arrogant twaddle from academic. I think plenty of people understand our system just fine and want it to adapt to political realities of today. It is tired old acadmecis who want to freeze our system in aspic, and then expect public to follow institution, instead of other way around that are a threat to our democracy.

    It is not diffucult to understand why people are uneasy with Iggy and his coalition talk – Iggy did not face leadership challenge and now is trying to take power through back door again. It is transparent Liberal math – two losing parties equal one winnng party but public won't put up with that kind of undemocratic nonsense for much longer.

    Potter – can't remember the terms now but during last coalition crisis you had two groups of people – I think one was Democats and maybe other was Parliamentarians. Going to have to bring out those dusty terms again, soon, I reckon.

    • I think plenty of people understand our system just fine and want it to adapt to political realities of today.

      If most people want our system to adapt to political realities of today, to which I assume you're referring to the over-arching power of the political party over the MP and the absolute authority of the Prime Minister, then we really need to have a comprehensive discussion about that and ensure that adequate checks and balances are put in place.

      • "…I assume you're referring to the over-arching power of the political party over the MP and the absolute authority of the Prime Minister, then we really need to have a comprehensive discussion about that and ensure that adequate checks and balances are put in place."

        Never was the truth of your comment on greater display than during the Chretien years, yet I don't recall many, if any calls during that time for "comprehensive discussions" and "ensur(ing) that adequate checks and balances are put in place". I wonder why.

    • i think plenty of people understand our system just fine

      I want as many people as possible, preferably everyone, to understand our system.

      I liken it to driving on our roadways. I want everyone to understand the rules of the road so that this driving cooperative we all share functions the best it can and as safely as it can.

      • As you are talking about understanding, and all…

        there is an important difference between the objects of your analogy in that we have a cooperative road system and an oppositional parliamentary system. Also, governments typically do not share the levers of governance with opposition MP's.

    • Mixed metaphor alert!:
      "…who want to freeze our system in aspic,…"
      Should be corrected to:
      "… who want to set our system in aspic,…"

      Aspics typically are not frozen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspic

  2. Who in the world are you people trying to kid? You've had two years to explain this nonsense to Canadians. They still don't buy it. They still expect the winning party to form government. After more than three weeks, nobody knows what this election has been about except that a socialist oddball might now be prime minister.

    • But the winning party WILL form government. Or, to put it another way, the party that forms government will be the winning party. And that's exactly what I expect.

      • You're not being very clear. Are you saying that the party that finishes in first place in the election will form government? If not, then it will be some form of alliance between parties that will form government, not just one "winning party," right?

        • Craigola is saying (very clearly) that whoever forms the government is by definition the winner. Stephen Harper defines "winning" his own way (he's the Charlie Sheen of Canadian politics), ignoring the role of majority support for policies (having the confidence of the House) – parliamentary system winning – in favour of having the most puppets under his direct control – Harper winning. He deliberately refuses to accept the supremacy of the House. That's why he was held in contempt and and that's why we are having an election. To avoid facing those realities, he is travelling in a bubble. He may as well stay in his office, for all the listening he's doing.

          • You're funny. You call yourself "A-logician" and have that picture of Spock in your profile, but you don't seem very keen on actual logic. Craigola said that the "winning party" will form government. However, if the party that does not have the most votes forms the government, it will do so with the help of at least one other party, won't it? So wouldn't "winning parties" be a more accurate term? But it's hard to see how second and third place parties can be considered as "winning," isn't it? Or is this more logic than you can handle? lol

            Oh, and for someone who seems to worship Spock, I suggest you use a lot less emotion and anger in your posts. He would not be amused. lol

          • Your ad hominem argument clearly illustrates your unfamiliarity with the constraints of formal logic.

            When there is no formal coalition, there is only one party forming the government. If that party's policies have the support of a majority of members, they have the confidence of the House. They may therefore consider themselves the winning party.

            Alternatively, if your quibble is with the use of the singular "party" by Craigola, you may wish to consider the other definitions of party. Feel free to look them up.

          • I like your summary save the following point. You say Harper does not respect the supremacy of the House. This isn't some abstract construct. The supremacy of the House is: voting yes or no on confidence motions. Which means, if the opposition parties were so keen on exercising the supremacy of the House (and 5 1/2 years of minority suggests they were not), they'd vote the government down. Plain and simple. For them to bring down the government on some quasi-judicial contempt of parliament charges seems like a needless recourse to a power with questionable legitimacy when they had a fully validated power to defeat the government at their disposal.

            For Iggy to suggest that Harper is finagling with the rules is rather rich, when he is doing the same species thing.

            Disclaimer: This post should not be construed as an indication that I am a spear carrier for any party.

        • A party that does not win a majority in the House cannot be said to have "won" the election. Well, it could be said, but not accurately. The House is not obliged to swallow its bile and support a government just because the party the government is formed from has the largest minority of MPs, the government is obliged to seek and hold the confidence of the House. Yes, yes, public opinion counts for a lot, but legally speaking the House speaks on the people's behalf between elections, and a party that cannot win a majority of seats in it cannot bully it around. I hope it doesn't take a coalition takeover to teach this, but it's an important fact to establish.

          As for your suggestion that the system once worked this way, but we should applaud its evolution into something approaching a populist dictatorship, I disagree.

          • The thing many of you arrogant types don't get is that Canadians don't buy it. They think winning parties should form government. In fact, even Iggy says so, but leaves himself enough wiggle room to finally grab power for himself.

          • "The thing many of you arrogant types don't get is that Canadians don't buy it."

            I'm a 5th generation Canadian. I buy it. Next.

          • Then I suggest your efforts at convincing non-arrogant Canadians have not been very successful. lol

          • Why is it incumbent on those who support established parliamentary convention to persuade anyone about anything? If Harper is trying to unilaterally re-write longstanding practice, shouldn't he and his coterie be the ones who need to do some persuading?

            He's the one unilaterally challenging the status quo with his self-serving re-interpretation of parliamentary practice.

          • Where does this come from? It is precisely because Canada has virtually no history of losing parties forming government that Canadians appear to be so wary of the idea, right? It is the supporters of losing coalitions grabbing power who are bucking convention, not the other way around.

          • It comes from an interpretation of parliamentary convention that is accepted throughout the world. It's Harper who is "bucking" convention. This also happens to be the opinion shared by virtually all authorities on the constitution, including Canada's own Dr. Peter Russell.

            How does Harper reconcile his self-serving interpretation with the fact that Israel, his own pet project in the middle east, is currently governed by a coalition that doesn't include the party with the most seats?

            In other words, he's already supporting a "coalition of losers" in his own foreign policy.

          • a) Nobody is arguing that it is illegal. Canadians just don't see it as fair.

            b) All these other countries that have coalitions, including Israel, have proportional representation. Coalitions are virtually ensured under such systems. We don't have such a system, which is why we've had precisely one example of it in Ottawa in our history, and that was during a world war.

          • I don't think you should presume to speak on behalf of Canadians. "Fairness" is in the eye of the beholder. I believe many would claim that it would be "unfair" for Harper, should he fail to win the confidence of the House, to cling to power with a minority of seats in the face of a larger coalition of members representing a bigger plurality or even a majority of voters. In that event, I would guess that's the GG's call in which case precedents, not perceptions of "fairness", would be the determining criteria.

            And unless Harper wishes to conveniently continue making up new rules and conditions as he goes along (and he accuses the Liberals of only being interested in power!), the nature of the electoral process is irrelevant in the creation and maintenance of parliamentary governments. In either FPP or PR systems, governments are still formed by whichever party is able to win the confidence of the House.

            Can you point to a credible authority or precedent that argues otherwise?

          • "All these other countries that have coalitions, including Israel, have proportional representation."

            Britain does not have proportional representation.

          • Yes, and the winning party – the one that came in first in the election – got to form the government, didn't it. This isn't very hard if you're just willing to be a bit open-minded about it, you know.

          • "Will people please stop claiming the Tories have 'won'. In our system, you win when you get a majority of the House of Commons. Let them just ask themselves what they would do and say if Gordon Brown had won the same number of seats and was claiming to have 'won' the election, and then calm down." Peter Hitchens. http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2010/05/to

            Let's remember the time-line of the coalition negotiations in Britain, the incumbent got first shot. Labour and the Lib-Dem negotiated for a few days to try and form government. When the negotiations fell, the Tories met with the Lib-Dem and form a coalition agreement.

            Also my reply was about your use of "all" in your post, not all countries with a coalition government had PR was the point being made.

        • Mmm, see, it's always been the assumption that the party that wins the most seats in the election will form government, but this is based on a bit of a foregone conclusion. Before that party gets to form government, they have to gain the confidence of Parliament, and there's no specific guarantee that this will be the case. __But before you get too worried, please consider: how hard has it ever been for the leader of the party with the most seats to gain the confidence of Parliament? In fact, wouldn't the leader of the party with the most seats have to be a terribly obstinate individual to lack the requisite ability to compromise enough to gain that confidence? Why, I'd have to wonder how desperately they even wanted to form government, if they weren't willing to do the bare minimum necessary to earn the privilege.

          • At the same time, however, — and this is something your side of the argument likes to overlook — it also takes a lot of chutzpah — a lot of chutzpah — for parties that did poorly in an election to gang up and oust a party that did well in the election. In other words, there's a certain amount of popular viability that has to be taken into account, doesn't there? Which is precisely why Iggy finally backed off having the coalition grab for power the last time. And, if you recall, that coalition didn't back off when Harper took the voter subsidy issue off the table. In that case, he was willing to compromise, but it was the opposition coalition that wasn't.

          • Hey, I didn't design the system, I just enjoy it as best I can. With 308 seats in the HoC, you need at least 155 for a clear cut majority, right? Any less than that, and even a party "that did well in the election" quite obviously didn't do well enough that they can disregard the need for gaining the confidence of "parties that did poorly."
            As for how much "chutzpah" it takes to "oust" a party that has yet to form government, as per the system of government we follow as Canadians, I'll defer to the current Governor General who, I'm told by the man who chose him, is eminently qualified to make that decision.
            Who was less cooperative years ago? The question, less than one week from a new vote, is moot.

  3. If most people want our system to adapt to the political reality of today, which I assume you're referring to a wide-ranging powers in the MP of the party and the absolute authority and the Prime Minister, we really need a wider debate on it and ensure that adequate control procedures are introduced.

  4. Aaron, I know you're doing your best to put the kibosh on a Conservative Victory, but you forget a salient point.
    I'm sure the rules for governing the country were created PRIOR to the consideration of a sitting party dedicated to the destruction of the country.

    • Actually, the awesomeness of our system is that it can incorporate such a thing without imploding.

      You are merely stating differently because Harper feels it meets his ends right now.

    • Well, the rules are the same as what has been used in the British parliament since forever; they managed to withstand Irish separatists in the 19th century, Scottish and Welsh nationalists in the 20th & 21st, and much greater threats in previous centuries. Several instances where the supremacy of parliament was challenged became significant milestones in the evolution of democracy in the English-speaking world.

      PS, it was Andrew Potter who posted this, seems to be a knee-jerk reaction with many here to assume it was Aaron.

      • There are at least three documented cases of Wherry Derangement Syndrome like this per week around here lately. I assume they have Wherry photo walls and John-Doe-from-Se7en-style journals at home as well.

        • I just wanted that the expression 'knee-jerk' was not monopolized

  5. That is the point Liberals seem to be forgetting. Something about a hostile party having a say in how the rest of us are governed just doesn't sit well with most people who are actually patriotic.

  6. I wasn't referencing a particular party, Dennis_F. One of the reasons that I voted CPC in 2006 was that they promised to pursue some sort of reform. Instead, they took the Chretien model and copied it, and then put it on steroids.

    This shouldn't be a partisan discussion, and the more we make it a partisan discussion the less success we'll have in addressing it.

    • I honestly don't recall all these howls for reform when the Liberals were in power. Sorry. I think that's a fact. In other words, I question the extent to which some people actually want reform and, instead, just want left-wingers to have power. Having said that, I wouldn't put you in that category.

      • Personally, I'm not so sure whether I'd reform the current system or not; I'd much prefer to reduce the role of the party and increase the responsibility of the MP. Having said that, however, it does seem that many Canadians do view the American system of voting in a specific individual as being preferable to our Canadian system of voting in the MP. I've heard it coming from both sides of the spectrum.

        Instead of circumventing and manipulating our current system to make that possible, I'd prefer such a shift to be a conscious decision. I'd advocate for not making the shift at all and restricting the control of the Prime Minister, but that's just my personal leaning. This would have constrained both the Chretien and Harper governments, I believe.

        However, I'm so naive that I still believe the PMO and PCO should be separate entities.

        • I wonder if it's "grass is greener on the other side" thing.

          Being a citizen of both countries (Canada and the US), I've watched the two political systems and I would say I have a "generalist" overview of how they both work. For some reason, I always saw the Canadian political system as more "evolved," in that it required voters to have to think more about their decisions in a more complex way because of the interrelatedness of their decision.

          With the US system, it's much more "simple." Do you like this guy or do you like that guy? It really polarizes the political debates and makes it much more difficult to hear the nuances of more than two different perspectives.

          With Love and Gratitude,


      • Um…wasn't that the whole point of the Reform party. I remember hearing a lot of talk about a "triple e" senate back in the 90s and pre-2006 Harper talked about "democratic reform" and the "democratic deficit." So yeah, it's not a "fact"

  7. So, since the ONLY reason you guys are SO upset at the idea of a coalition is that it would contain TRAITORS… you'll be shutting the hell up on election day when an NDP-led coalition WITHOUT the rump BQ takes office?

    Didn't think so.

    One more time: When the right was divided, it would have been PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE for a coalition of Reform and the PC to rule the country if they had been able to command a majority of Parliament – even if individually they didn't have the most seats.

    LIkewise, with a divided left. If the NDP and Liberals can come together and command a majority of Parliament, then that's the government. No matter how much the 35% of the population that votes Tory screams and whines about it.

  8. How is it you can't grasp AL's point? It's a two step process. First you win the election[ if you gain a majority of the seats you're ok] then you need to make your case to the house via a throne speech. It you can't do that then you have problems.
    The real problem here is that the CPC has rarely represented a majority of Canadian political opinion. Even when it has it has tended to be centrist – it's just the Canadian way[ at least it has been] There is no real appetite for a seriously Conservative party in this country and they have no real allies, there's the rub for folks like you and Harper. Harper simply refuses to conceed he has to convince people to this pov. He seems to think it's a mandate from his side of the poltical spectrum,, based on the vote alone, that simply overrides the will of a majority of Canadians – it doesn't.

    • "First you win the election…"

      Well, no, that isn't what is being discussed. The scenario under discussion is what to do when no party has won a clear majority – ie: there is no winner. In this case, the question is how can legitimacy to govern be extended to a non-winning party.

      We democratically elect representatives, who then do the voting. We do not have a direct democracy.

      If there is no real appetite for a conservative party, then why have they been in power for the past five plus years? By means of some non-appetite?

      • First you win the election…well no…

        Being a little padantic aren't we considering the rest of my post clearly discussed the matter of minority legitmacy.

        Are you being intentionally obtuse? The whole reason that Harper has not attempted to govern in a particularly conservative manner is because he knows there is no mandate for a seriously conservative option ; it's why he hasn't been able to get a majority until now.

        • The spelling is pedantic. Try using Google Chrome as your browser, it has auto spell check.

          It only seems like I am being pedantic, because you are being accidentally sloppy. For example: "The real problem here is that the CPC has rarely represented a majority of Canadian political opinion." Well, how could it? It is a relatively new political party that has only existed under Harper's leadership. You have mixed up the conservative tradition with the CPC, related, but not the same. Sloppy.

          Also: "Harper simply refuses to conceed he has to convince people to this pov." Again, sloppy. How could he even get elected without convincing people of his point of view? Unless you mean something disgusting like the Canadian voters that elected CPC MPs are not people.

          Also: " that simply overrides the will of a majority of Canadians – it doesn't." There isn't any vehicle for direct expression of this fictitious "will of the majority of Canadians". A vote for a party that ends up in opposition, does not equate to all parties in opposition being the same party. Fallacy of composition. Sloppy.

          • Fair enough i was sloppy – been so all day for some reason. Thanks for the spell check – although i stand by pedantic.
            " Also: "Harper simply refuses to conceed he has to convince people to this pov." Again, sloppy. How could he even get elected without convincing people of his point of view? He seems to think it's a mandate from his side of the poltical spectrum,, based on the vote alone, that simply overrides the will of a majority of Canadians – it doesn't"


          • Agreed it makes no sense, particularly when you opt to remove the next sentence. I was trying to point out [ badly] that Harper seems to think a electoral mandate, even if it's not a majority one, trumps the necessity to obtain the consent of the house – which is clearly not so.
            " that simply overrides the will of a majority of Canadians – it doesn't." There isn't any vehicle for direct expression of this fictitious "will of the majority of Canadians". A vote for a party that ends up in opposition, does not equate to all parties in opposition being the same party. Fallacy of composition. Sloppy. "

            You're quite wrong there All the elected representative mps do indeed represent the will of the people . It appears you did indeed miss my point, whether it's as willfully as Harper i can't say. But don't take my word for it. I suggest you email this opinion of how the will of the majority of Canadians is expressed to Prof Peter Russell – i doubt it'll find any favour

          • No, no, no!!! There isn't any such thing, in the Canadian political system, as the will of the people. What are you a communist? There is only the individual selection of MPs at the riding level. After the election is over, the only will involved is the MP's. And that will is far from free as the individual MP owes their standing to the franchiser's conditions of the party system. The Westminster parliamentary system has its (barely disguised) roots in an oligarchical clique. That franchise has been opened up to potentially all Canadian subjects does not change this fact. Parliament is a concession wrestled from the crown, but it remains an endowment of the Crown, not the people's. It is a sop, nothing more.

            It is all well and good attempt to defend yourself by hurling epithets like pedantic, but if you don't display sufficient mastery of the material, it is hardly my fault you are getting schooled.

          • A tad arrogant aren't we? Schooled? Really! A communist! Who's hurling meaningless and childish epithets now?

            You may disagree with the term "will of the people" – how about the decision of the electorate? Yeeesh talk about pedantic – how about didactic?
            So we have a representative democracy, not a direct one. Other than that i haven't the faintest idea what your point is.
            Perhaps you'd like to provide some evidence from a credible source for your somewhat archaic views of the Westminster PS? And I still challenge you to forward this to Russell. No doubt i hold some erroneous notions, but i'm convinced you do.

          • My point is that if you haven't got a majority, you haven't won.

            My point is that there isn't any actual vehicle for expressing the (non-existent) will of the people in the Canadian system. Hello! That is called a thesis statement.

            My point is that "will of the people" has it's origin in communist ideology.

            My point is that you should probably spent several weeks reading histories of the British parliament.

            My intent was, successfully I might add, to provide a massive amount of friction to you untethered stream of thoughts. Few things work better than a pedantic and fussy tone. When you are already using pedantic, it is redundant to use didactic (in the pejorative sense, as you have.)

  9. perhaps it 's about time another persistent myth is demythologized Mr Potter – maybe something you'd like to tackle?
    That is the neverending whine from the conbots that non cons are only interested in the rules now. Granted there is an element of hypocrisy here – i never paid anywhere near the attention to Chretien i did to Harper; it's unfortunate but understandable to some degree among political junkies. Still, it doesn't do anything to address the current set of problems we seem to have in our polity.
    Harper's inability to accept house rules seem to me to be entirely strategic. As a conservative of a party that is to the right of the old PC party he simply doesn't have enough support in the country to run on a truly open and honest ticket. He knows that , hence all the tacking back and forth from this position to that, or simply ducking the hard questions.

    • Perhaps more importantly he doesn't have any natural allies in our parliament; hence the likelihood of him fallling if he doesn't obtain a majority – although he could do something about that were he to chose to do so[ eg offer some democratic reforms, compromise a little bit more on the budget]
      This situation did not apply during the liberal years. Not only because they had majority govt's, but simply because they were not as isolated from mainstream opinion in the house – they did have potential allies in a pinch. This is simply a reality that many cons simply refuse to acknowledge.
      SH is simply the biggest con artist this country has ever seen, and that's saying something. Harper is attempting to use populist demagoguery to do an end run around our parliamentary system.

      • Were you, like Ignatieff, out of the country for the last several years? Harper has been the Prime Minister of minority governments for five years. During that time, his government has faced dozens of "confidence" motions, yet has lost only two. He has stayed in power longer than any other minority government Prime Minister in Canadian history.

        Yet you suggest the "persistent myth" is "non-cons are only interested in the rules now", rather than "Harper's inability to accept house rules". If you truly believe Harper is unable to accept "house rules", how do you explain his unprecedented success as a minority government PM? Jedi mind tricks?

        As for the rest of your post, it lacks coherence, to put it mildly. How does someone who "simply doesn't have enough support in the country to run on a truly open and honest ticket" nevertheless "use populist demagoguery to do an end run around our parliamentary system"? I take it Harper is employing some exciting new kind of demagoguery – UNpopulist demagoguery – to exert his dark will over all of us!

        • Not my most coherent post true. But you might want to try a little harder nonetheless; you'll catch on eventually i'm sure. See if you can figure out which rule in particular he doesn't like and why it's a strategic and dishonest choice on his part to oppose that parliamentary convention in particular?

  10. That comes as news to the many parties who have come first in Canadian elections and actually have formed a minority government, and were expected to do so by everyone. Don't be a smartass.

  11. So the parties that won even fewer seats are the winners?

  12. I've raised this point before. I'll raise it again. For all the people who argue about the constitutionality of losing parties forming governments, what about the constitutionality of David Emerson crossing the floor right after an election in which he promised to be Harper's worst enemy? That's legal. But was it right? Some of the same people who boost a leftist coalition howled when Emerson did what he did. Why?

    • Odd that you should bring that up, because I don't recall seeing CPC supporters being against Emerson's move at the time; their arguments included pushing back against the notion that the floor-crossing went against the wishes of the electors in his riding. The arguments went along the line that as a duly elected MP, he was empowered to make those kinds of decisions. So one could conclude that CPC supporters are being hypocritical to have accepted his floor crossing with enthusiasm while now arguing the democratic illegitimacy of a government composed of parties individually having less seats than the CPC, called upon by the GG to form a government in the event a CPC minority fell on its throne speech.

      In the current situation, its up to the GG to evaluate his options, as Mr Harper so eloquently stated in 2004.

      In the case of Emerson, I don't think any third party (including the GG) could reverse the situation.

      • You didn't answer my question. I don't recall CPC supporters being crazy with the Emerson move. I do recall leftists howling and screaming about it – for years. And what does the GG have to do with it? Again, you're not answering the question. Both cases are legal, but are they right?

        • You're drawing an erroneous anology. Obtaining the confidence of the house is an unavoidable part of the process of our PD; if you fail to do so there are other options. Emerson clearly ran under and got elected under the banner of another party, his switch occurred almost immediately – it was outrageous. There is no comparable principle at stake.

          • You know, the same people who constantly thump the constitution when it comes to coalitions completely ignore it when it comes to floor crossings. Fascinating. So, let me educate you. People do not elect parties to Parliament. They elect MPs to Parliament, who align themselves to any party of choice. So, according to the constitution, what Emerson did wasn't an outrage, right? He has every right to do so, just as you say the coalition has every right to form government, right?

          • (continued)

            I specifically mention the GG, because that is the key difference between the situations. At the HoC level, he acts as a kind of referee, but there's no similar third-party capacity in the case of a floor crosser, short of an election.

            In Emerson's case, the immediacy was more the issue; if it had been a few months later, resulting (say) from policy disagreements with his own party it would not have been as big an issue. (see also: Wajid Khan)

          • Who said anything about constitutions?

            Its also a bit rich stating that people elect MP's (yes, they do), while often resorting to the argument its anti-democratic for a collection of enough MP's to decide confidence, on the basis its anti-democratic because they are 'losers', conveniently they happen to be party members when that happens. Deux poids, deux mesures.

            (PS I hope I didn't mess anyone up with the garbled posts, trying to watch hockey while doing this . . . )

        • Well, one line of argument is that it was not right for him to do so. Why? Because a plurality of electors in his riding elected him running under a specific party's platform. The party he then chose to join, the day after his election, received far fewer votes than the one for which he was running (CPC came third with 19% vs his 43%), so there's a legitimate case that he showed disrespect to the voters in his riding, who voted for or against him personally. Of course, for a floor-crossing MP, there is no recourse other than the next electoral opportunity.

          At the level of the HoC, the MP's decide whether the PM has their confidence by voting on the throne speech. If he loses the GG can ask another MP to form a government and try gain confidence. Its possible that parties to such an arrangement, can have enough common interests to sustain a confidence vote, and maintain it for a reasonable period of time. It is also completely possible that it represent both a greater aggregate of total votes cast for it than for the party with the most seats, and even the greatest number of popular votes. But ultimately its the MPs that decide, not individual voters.

  13. That might be difficult, you do have a spike through your skull.

    A prerequisite, if not "the" prerequisite, is that an election has been held and the results validated by Elections Canada. All this happens well before the H o C sits. Hope that helps.

    • I appreciate your understanding. Yes, there's that election business, but I'm so very positive there was something else. But what? I remember that it's not such a big deal if the party with the most seats holds more than half of the total available, but if they don't, it's not necessarily a step you can skip…oh damn this spike, what WAS that? Can't anyone help?

      • By point of tradition the party with the most seats has the honor of groveling before the GG for permission to govern. Obviously this can be done without a majority. Some weak-kneed types try to get some help from other parties, but… this has nothing to do with privilege. The governing party doesn't govern at the privilege of the other members of parliament. It maintains it's hands on the reigns at the confidence of a majority of MP. Get it? There are two different words involved… privilege … confidence, and they have different meanings, that, while close, are definitely not the same.

        • "The honor of groveling before the GG for permission to govern"? Not a monarchist, eh?

          I think we're inadvertently butting heads over the word 'privilege'. I sort of meant it in a less formal sense, as in, 'Some people see the opportunity to form the government of a country as great as Canada as a privilege, as opposed to a right.'

          "It maintains it's hands on the reigns at the confidence of a majority of MP. Get it?" Just about, but here's where I'm still having a bit of a problem. "A majority of MP" might only mean the greatest raw number of MPs, which, if it was less than half of the total number of MPs in the HoC, wouldn't necessarily mean that I had the confidence of the HoC, which is what we're talking about.
          WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT! Of course! The confidence of ALL the MPs in the House of Commons! Thank you, Cold Standing! Thank you!

          • Hold on a minute, I'm just going to give your spike a little tappy-tap to see if I can get you to turn off the ALL CAPS function. It makes a post hard to read, and makes me think you're getting a little too excited. It's all fun and games until someone looses an eye.

            Now, let's try to focus. We are talking about the uses of words germane to the traditions, customs, and rules of order in the Canadian H o C.

            The formula for a majority is 50% + 1%. It doesn't "might only mean" anything else. Legislation and etc. up for votes can pass without all the members voting if there is a quorum & the above rule is applied as the standard of success.

            The confidence of the House, means you put forward a motion and it passes. You'll never have all the members assenting to a motion… unless it be to condemn Macleans. It should also be pointed out that you do not now or have not ever had the confidence of the H o C, as I assume, and I am going out on a limb here, you have never been PM. You are self-aggrandizing. And by "we're", do you mean you and me or you and a collection of other yous that also share the craigola head space? Just asking.

          • Hardly any all caps. Just meant to signify an aha! moment. Not meant to yell. Apologies. Just talking about you and me, and the eavesdroppers. Did I say I had the confidence of the HoC? I surely didn't mean to.

          • Could you expand on your eureka moment? I don't quite get it. Really do want to know.

            I will put Professor Persnickety away now. Sorry I over did it.

          • My eureka moment? That was the point when you helped me remember the missing step: you get to form the government if you can show you've got the confidence of the House of Commons. Winning the most seats in an election, if they don't represent more than half the available seats in Parliament, is not sufficient.
            But then, as I pointed out to Dennis_F, if you're the leader of the party that won the most seats in the election but it's not a majority of the seats in the HoC, if forming the government means enough to you, it shouldn't bee too hard to do what it takes to find the support you need.

          • Commanding the confidence of the H of C is demonstrated by means of voting. MP can only vote when parliament is sitting. Parliament can only be sitting when the GG has asked one of the MP to form a government. The so asked government proceeds to present a budget. The house votes, if the legislation passes, the government (PM, specifically) commands the confidence of the H o C. There is the consideration as to if MP as PM is likely to C the C of the H, and the actual demonstration of said command.

            You have the components right, but the process & timing wrong. You are also taking the phrase " commanding the confidence…" in the abstract when it actually refers to a concrete specific procedure/event.

            To which it is manifestly evident that one need not be in a coalition, if when not in majority, to run the show.