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If necessarily a coalition…

Voters have the right to know, in advance, what potential governing arrangements are on the table


 

leadersAt what point does an annual federal election become a constitutional convention?

I kid, of course.

But as we head into our fourth election in under six years, we need to seriously consider the possibility that we have achieved parliamentary deadlock, and if so, what we are going to do about it, short of heading to the polls every Fall.

The late Senator and constitutional theorist Eugene Forsey argued that unlike the American system (where Congressional deadlock is seen as a feature, not a bug), a hung parliament is impossible. When the government and opposition “differ on any matter of importance, then, promptly, there is either a new government or a new House of Commons.”

Well that’s well and good, but what happens when the new government can’t make the new Commons work? And then again? And again? Forsey claimed that “In the United States, President and Congress can be locked in fruitless combat for years on end. In Canada, the Government and the House of Commons cannot be at odds for more than a few weeks at a time.”

But what seems to have happened is that the main parties are now engaged in what appears to be a serious war of attrition, at odds for years at a stretch. And it won’t end until one of the following happens:

1. The voters get tired of it, and elect a majority.

2. One of the opposition parties gets tired of it, or goes broke, and decides to just tacitly support the government for an extended period of time (like the Libs did under Dion).

3. Two (or more) parties enter into a Peterson-Rae style entente.

4. We have a coalition government.

My preference is for (1), but that is not on the radar. Two is less likely than it used to be, given the public funding of political parties and, frankly, the personalities currently involved. That leaves the possibility of a coalition or coalition-style government as the scenario that is a) most likely and b) most in the interest of the country. I think it is imperative that all the parties involved start talking about it now, before the election. Voters have the absolute right to know, in advance, what potential governing arrangements are on the table before the election.

(Forsey quotes lifted from this old Spector column, which is still most relevant).


 
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If necessarily a coalition…

  1. "Voters have the absolute right to know, in advance, what potential governing arrangements are on the table before the election."

    You mean, how the parties will vote on legislation not yet introduced, or on platforms not yet published? The former would rule out the Fiscal Update of December; the latter would be a condemnation of the Conservatives through the first two thirds of the last campaign.

    Unfortunately, the lesson the parties seem to have drawn from the Dion Saga is that you should never tell the voters anything, ask them for a blank cheque, cash it, and demonise your opponents before and after.

    We can't have an election campaign about a meta-issue like coalition-forming. If the parties would just say what they stand for, and what they plan to do (both legislatively and in terms of governance), voters could decide on that and the parties could conduct themselves on that basis, in or out of government, cooperating or obstructing their rivals on the basis of policy. The voters could elect MP's on the basis of what they stand for and the MP's could in turn vote for what they stand for, not who.

  2. Why is a majority government in the best interest of the country?

    The benefits of a majority government are that legislation gets passed quite easily. The biggest downside of a majority government is that legislation gets passed quite easily.

    Legislative gridlock is neither good nor bad but circumstance dependant. Here we have the two major parties that have no substantive policy difference. There is no burning issue that is not getting resolved in Canada today that a majority would solve.

    Consider the flip; A party wins a majority with, oh, let's say 40% of the vote. Pretty much have the run of the place, wouldn't they?

    If Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper were handed a majority – would the outcomes more or less accurately reflect the diverse views and interests of the Canadian people? My view is less so, not more. Comprise may be painful – but at least it's compromise.

    • It would be lovely if there were compromise. Harper's declaring of everything to be a confidence vote until he gets his majority is no compromise. I still think a necessary change we need to make to our system is to explicitly define the "confidence" issue as one that is not linked to any particular legislative change.

      The problem is that Harper has disdain and hatred for the Canadian parliamentary system. He always has when you read his back works. Hell, for all his bleating about being a conservative, he remains a Reform loyalist.

      *ANY* system can be torn apart if we allow the people who want to tear it apart into leadership positions. They can find the loopholes that are left when reasonable people who design the system don't do so with the idea in mind that some idiot might get into power who just wants to tear it apart. Sadly, it seems most of the Conservatives from before the PC-Reform merger have been cowed into silence by the constant haranguing of their Reform brethren, or simply aren't willing to believe what it is they're seeing.

      • Based on Harper's ideology vs. his legislative program and his positions over the past few years, it's cleary he's at least compromising his own principles in the way he's governed – at least from a policy standpoint.

        I agree though, he doesn't have to be such an a$$hole about it.

      • "They can find the loopholes that are left when reasonable people who design the system don't do so with the idea in mind that some idiot might get into power who just wants to tear it apart."

        Yup, exactly. It's amazing just how much of the political system relies on convention and widespread respect for the system itself. If you simply don't respect the system, you're playing with a different rulebook. Case in point: Harper's 200-page How To Derail Parliamentary Committees handbook.

    • I think the pluses of majority government outweigh the minuses you identify. Namely, that they allow the Government — of whatever stripe — to think about and tackle long-term issues, i.e. take a temporary hit in popularity in order to advance a strategic agenda. In a minority scenario you can't afford to sag for even a month.

      • Conceputally I agree with that – but for this particular point in time, I don't see any important long-term issue that the Conservatives and Liberals can't cooperate on — while at the same time eliminating any extreme steps either party might take if given a majority (particularly one party). I guess what I'm saying I'm more comfortable with a Conservative or a Liberal minority than a Conservative majority. At least for now.

      • With a government and elected representatives comfortable with minority/coalition/compromise "making Parliament work" you could see long term problems tackled. And perhaps in a way that actually reflects the majority view. The present group of ruling class and their supporters of all stripes seem unable to think out side of winner take all majorities.Majorities could possible be the exception in Canada for the foreseeable future.

        Maybe something could be learned from the consensus model that the teritories are presently operating under.

    • This is a very good arguement for the validity of our present string of minority govts. Lots of people say they are getting tired of them [ me included ] but a majority by either of the main parties would not reflect the reality of the country. We are in effect getting exactly want we need. Which makes the current scramble by the libs to distance themselves from a coalition completely nonsense.

  3. "Voters have the absolute right to know, in advance, what potential governing arrangements are on the table before the election."

    You mean, how the parties will vote on legislation not yet introduced, or on platforms not yet published? The former would rule out the Fiscal Update of December; the latter would be a condemnation of the Conservatives through the first two thirds of the last campaign.

    Unfortunately, the lesson the parties seem to have drawn from the Dion Saga is that you should never tell the voters anything, ask them for a blank cheque, cash it, and demonise your opponents before and after.

    We can't have an election campaign about a meta-issue like coalition-forming. If the parties would just say what they stand for, and what they plan to do (both legislatively and in terms of governance), voters could decide on that and the parties could conduct themselves on that basis, in or out of government, cooperating or obstructing their rivals on the basis of policy. The voters could elect MP's on the basis of what they stand for and the MP's could in turn vote for what they stand for, not who.

    I agree with everything you write here, but as you say (1) and (2) are not going to happen and (3) and (4) are in the process of being ritually denounced by everybody. We are heading into Totally Ineffective Minority Government #4 (TIMG4), whoever wins. The Bloc has broken the Forsey formula.

    • Unfortunately, the lesson the parties seem to have drawn from the Dion Saga is that you should never tell the voters anything, ask them for a blank cheque, cash it, and demonise your opponents before and after.

      Yes! Urgh! There were flaws in Dion's plan, but it was an idea, something becoming increasingly scarce in Canadian politics. The response from the voters has taught Canadian politicians one thing an done thing only: be scared of ideas. Don't tell them something that might make them actually think- don't stand up for what you beleive in and put forrward proposals- they'll hate it! You'll be finished!
      So instead politicians will spout the same old platitudes, and the people who ought to lead won't, because they don't want to put themselves through it all, and because they actually have ideas.
      It's not as if we have a lack of problems for them to throw their (generally) smarter-than-average brains at.
      Sigh.

      • Thank you. Well said. I think I was so attached to Dion for this simple reason. He had an idea, and a vision. But simply because his was not embraced doesn't mean that others wont. I yearn for anything of substance! And its frustrating to see these politicians debating about whether or not the other will form a coalition, it also doesn't help that half of the reporters are constantly asking the same coalition question.

    • The sentence from AP's post that you highlighted is interesting….

      Is there really such a thing as a "voter's right"?
      If so, is that the only right or are there others?
      What can actually happen if a voter right is violated?
      Usually rights come with responsibilites; are there any responsibilities (eg to understand and abide by the rules)?

  4. I thought "journalists" liked elections and endless campaigns? All the snickering and eye-rolling that passes for sophisticated analysis (I read that somewhere) that's so much easier than reporting while the House is sitting?

    • Not in the case of O'Malley, Wherry, and Wells. The first two thrive on committees and QP, the last on big-picture policy pieces. I get the feeling they all loathe the campaign trail and find horserace polling fun but unserious.

  5. If you go by the statements only one coalition hasnt been ruled out by the Liberals or the Conservatives, a Liberal and Conservative coalition. It wont happen, I am just saying this is the current scorecard.

  6. Maybe the deadlock would be broken if, instead of talking about the deadlock, we talked about issues, like the economy, like Harper's deficit, like the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work since 2006, like healthcare, etc.

    I think if we talked about real issues for a change instead of coalition this, poll that, wafer this, nanny that… our politicians might begin to think we were actually paying attention, we actually cared and, if they didn't get their act together, we might vote for the first party that stopped playing fiscal update-type games and negative ads and worrying way too much about "framing", out of exasperation if nothing else.

    • The coalition IS a real issue.
      It is particularly real for Western Canada, where 30% of the population needs representation.
      There are 92 seats out here, and they are all federalist….unlike the 25 seats Quebeckers 'allow' the federalists to win.

      • pssst….Just between you and me, I'm not sure talking about representation on the basis of demographics helps the anti-coalition case. Stick with the traitors and commies angle.

  7. Pass a law that states no leader of a party is allowed to respond to the questions and the questioner is fined 1000 dollars (1) when will there be an election (2) no leader may say beforehand how the party will vote on legislation until they READ the bill proposed (3) remove cameras from the existing question period and setup another weekly one like the brits use where they submit questions ahead of time and the like and has cameras and the PM has to be at this one – the previous QP can be for daily work and good experience for up and comers, backbenchers and the like and actually answering real questions and not just a theatre of the absurd for the cameras.(4) Elect The Senate! –

  8. "At what point does an annual federal election become a constitutional convention?"

    You should have wrote about this last week. The Americans held their first constitutional convention on September 5, 1774.

    • I'm pretty sure Potter meant "constitutional convention" in the context of "recurring and understood principle" not "a meeting to discuss the constitution" context.

  9. When Canadians vote for an MP to represent them, their decision is most often tied to the party that individal belongs to, and to the leader of that Party who would become prime minister if it obtains a plurality of the seats. To pretend otherwise is fatuous.

    • Er, that was kind of the point of my opening sentence, no? – That the very things on which voters base their decisions are not the things they actually get to vote for.

      • They do indeed.

        Their vote for a candidate is tied to that person's party and leader, knowing that the party that obtains the most seats then has the right to govern.

        • Which is due in large part to the fact that parties and leaders suck up all the available oxygen (and media) during an election. My point is that maybe Parliament would work better – and as it was supposed to – if it started trending more toward a body of 308 members as opposed to five rigid factions.

          My guess is that'll be the case once two or three parties are teetering on bankruptcy, But it is unfortunate if that's what brings us there.

          • As you know better than I, John Turner recently made some very interesting proposals in regard to the role of MPs, but that's a separate discussion from how we choose our government.

        • No, actually, that's not true, and that's exactly what Mark is saying. They think that, but it's not true. According to our system, all a party is is a convenient way to organize which person has the confidence of the House to form government. The party with the most seats typically gets first chance to see if that confidence can be mustered (since they would supposedly have the easiest time of it).

          Were your supposition true, if two parties wind up with a tie for the most seats, then they both have the right to govern, even though it might be in completely opposite styles.

          All the seats give is first kick at the can. What you, in your ignorance, might think it provides is irrelevant.

        • they may be intending to exercise their preference for PM, but they are not technically doing so given the 'rules of the games'.

        • they may be intending to exercise their preference for PM, but they are not technically doing so given an acceptance of the 'rules of the games', as you say.

    • …to interpret my comment otherwise is fatuous.

    • I guess then when a leader doesn't get more than 50 % of the votes it is fair to claim that the majority of Canadians don't support the choice of prime minister.

      • No, for most PMs and for most of our history, it's meant that they would have preferred to see someone else leading the country, but that they accept the rules of the game.

        • What rules? What game?
          You're making a bit of a leap there. The only rules in play are those of our Westminster system, with a few Canadian conventions tacked on, plus some good ol' interventionist regulation on spending and advertising, etc, from Elections Canada. You have no grounds whatsoever to claim that Canadians have accepted who their Prime Minister is as per some other set of "rules".
          The Prime Minister's legitimacy is established by one thing and one thing only – his command of the confidence of the House – and not by election returns. The only legitimacy afforded by the election results is that of the 308 individual MP's right to sit in Parliament. He is "first among equals" only so long as that is the will of Parliament.

          • Incorrect.

            The choice of PM is highly dependent on the election returns.

            The convention in our system is that the GG calls on the party leader with the most seats to form the government.

            Confidence votes come later.

          • What's incorrect about it? The choice of PM the day after an election is based on the sensible and consistent presumption that the person with the most seats has the best chance of commanding the confidence of Parliament. But the moment that person loses confidence, or suggests himself that he cannot attain such confidence he cannot then subsequently point to electoral results for legitimacy. The Prime Minister's legitimacy rests on the will of Parliament, and nothing more. The fact that an election grants a particular person the first crack at demonstrating such support is splitting hairs.

            If your theory were correct, the PM would assume duties as of election night, and there'd be no transition after an election when power transfers, but there is. The "defeated" PM resigns and advises the Governor in Council of an effective date. The "defeated" PM could, in theory, not resign and tell the GG he has a coalition if he felt like it. That may spark public outcry, and it might be rejected by the GG, but I think Forsey would say it would be perfectly legitimate.

          • that's simply not right. check out the transition in 1979, including the date the government took power and the date of the first confidence vote, to see how the porocess unfolds.

            on your other point, you're right–a defeated PM has the right to meet the House–that's what happened in 1925 and ulitmately led the next year to Byng-King. And it's one of the reasons that the precedent is actually a very narrow one.

        • Your argument fails on at least one other front – the millions of Quebec voters who choose the Bloc cannot be said to have want Gilles Duceppe to lead the country.

          • Are they then voting for him to lead his own country, which 'was' supposed to be his mandate?

        • I respect your opinion, Mr. Spector, however I wonder why voters in general are not more enamored with proportional representation – and why floor crossers are not always given the boot by their electors when they next head to the polls.

          Your opinion is that of a city man. A lot or ridings in this country are rural. I, for one, have voted many times for the man rather than the party – heck I twice voted for the PQ candidate Marcel Léger in Pointe-Aux-Trembles – best MNA I've ever had.

          • Lots of voters do vote for the individual candidate with no absolutely no regard for the party or the party leader. They would be in the minority, however.

          • True only because you added "with absolutely no regard for the party." A lot of people who might not love a party vote for a beloved local MP. That's precisely why it's easier to win an open seat after someone retires.

      • Maybe so. It is a fair criticism that the Prime MInister ( as an abstract concept ) must consider, as that PM leads a government of an entire country of diverse opinions and ideas. Thomas Hall answers you pretty well, below.

    • Norman Spector: "When Canadians vote for an MP to represent them, their decision is most often tied to the party that individal belongs to, and to the leader of that Party who would become prime minister if it obtains a plurality of the seats. To pretend otherwise is fatuous."

      If this view carries any weight, i.e. that the representative aspect of our representative democracy is a historical relic and party preference is what matters, you should have been in favour of a Coalition: CPC got 37.65% of the vote and the Liberals and NDP combined got 47.71%. To pretend otherwise is to have your cake and eat it too.

      • Our system is based on number of seats, not percentage of popular vote. There've been many cases that a party that won the former but not the latter took office.

        • "Our system is based on number of seats, not percentage of popular vote."

          Well, exactly. That is why the size of the parties per se does not matter. The party system is unknown to the constitution. The principle involved is that of representative democracy: an MP speaks for his/her constituents. Therefore, if one MP can command the support of the House and another cannot, the Crown rejects the latter MP as Prime Minister and accepts the former, and the Crown's choice is ratified or rejected by the House. It is precisely because our system is based on the number of seats that a government falls or stands on confidence votes.

          Do I have this right? You do not belong to the People's Will school of legitimacy? Or do you feel that the People's Will is expressed through the number of seats and not through the popular vote? The latter is a very strange position, since it amounts to rebranding a mechanism of representative democracy (having local MP's) into a cumbersome and, as you point out, quite inaccurate reflection of the People's Will.

          I really don't see what is wrong with the old representative system: voters can cast ballots for whomever they please, for whatever reason, and it is not up to us to divine why they did so. Let us just follow the constitution and the principles of representative democracy — or change it — but not try and change it without changing it.

          • The party system is not unknown to the Constitution, in the sense that conventions are the unwritten part of it.

            And, by convention, the GG calls on the leader of the party with the most seats to form a government. Subsequently, after a suitable period of time, that person must obtain the confidence of the House, and maintain it, failing which we are into another election.

            With the exception of the Byng-King precedent–a narrow one, if properly described–that's the way our system in Ottawa works.

          • King-Byng is a narrow precedent because it's only happened once. I am trying to think of any other instance where the results where close enough to warrant the incumbent PM having first crack at seeking the confidence of the House. If memory serves, there may be precedent in the provinces. I think 1971 or 1972 Smallwood fell one seat shy of the Tories but held on to power with the support of third party Member(s) of the House.

  10. You forgot one option. In fact, it's the option most often found in minority governments in our system. It's simply that the party forming the government tries to propose legislation that is acceptable, at least in large part, to enough of the opposition that it will pass. Those minority government realize that they didn't win enough seats in the election and have to water down their program in order to make Parliament work. This doesn't require buying off the NDP with expensive deals, nor threatening everyone with a confidence vote to make them accept the unacceptable. It's calling governing.

    • When one of the parties vows not to support a budget before they have seen it,
      and the other party refuses to contribute to the content of the budget because they want 'Harper to wear the recession',
      how can the elected minority party govern without genuine co-operation?

      IMO, Libs and Dippers had decided shortly after the election they would badger Harper out of power.
      And forcing an election 80% of Canadians don't want, with absolutely no tangible reason other than because they can, is proof of that.

      Canadians will respond by giving either the Conservatives or the Coalition a majority……

      • Wilson, with regard to "the other party refuses to contribute to the content of the budget", you should know that opposition parties never contribute to the content of the Govt's budget. It is supposed to be the Govt's budget, which is why the vote on it is one of confidence. The other party decided to vote against the Govt's budget before seeing it because they had already lost confidence in the Govt. The governing party had already failed to manage the expectations of the opposition, as a good minority govt would, and should, do. You've bought into the Conservative spin, I'm afraid.

        • Harper asked MI to contribute to the stimulus budget, this on the heels of the coalitionists insisting that Harper MUST CO-OPERATE with the opposition.
          MIs answer was a flat refusal to co-operate with the government,
          saying 'Harper gets to wear this recession'….
          So you can white wash it if you like Thomas,
          but from Oct 15 on, the opposition parties were hell bent on badgering PMSH out of government.
          The opps were highly unco-operative while insisting Harper couldn't make parliament work.

          Canadians are not stupid, they see it that way too,
          and that is why, even in the face of the economic crisis the government still polls well.

      • IMO, Conservatives decided immediately after the election they would force the libs and dippers out of existence.
        He knew he couldn't win a majority, so he tried to get a state-sanctioned monopoly on power instead.
        That's Mugabe-like.

        Then when that failed, he closed the House for a few months rather than face his opponents.

        And yes, after that, the Libs and the Dippers realized that this guy probably needs to go sooner rather than later.

        • So now it's Mugabe-like to reduce the parties' helping themselves to other people's stuff, encouraging them to EARN a little direct support instead? Mugabe like? MUGABE?

          Google "Zimbabwe" my friend. Read around a little.

    • You forgot to add a TM after "make Parliament work." ;)

  11. Plot out the CPC seat totals of the last three elections on a graph.

    You'll notice a consistent material increase each time.

    From a rump regional fringe party, to a national party with a bare fragile minority, to a national party dominating entire regions and competitive everywere else – verging on majority.

    Far from a stagnant deadlock I'd say.

    • To suggest that the increase in CPC seat totals has anything to do with CPC activities though is pretty far-fetched.

      I mean, let's face it, last election leading a united right while facing a nearly bankrupt Liberal party that was being lead by an idealist who could not speak English very clearly, peddling a plan that they let the conservatives define, aided by a media that the media commission itself has come down and said was using unfair practices against Dion, and against not one, but two other parties competing for the same political arena, the best Harper could do was about a 1% gain in vote percentage.

      Quite simply, I see no reason to assume that Harper has not topped out. If he couldn't get his vaunted majority under those circumstances, why on earth would it happen now?

      • Excuses excuses. And you think that a shiny new leader and a few bucks will fix what ails the LPC,
        and rocket it back into government…….with a little help from Jack.

        • Those aren't excuses. Look at the numbers. In the last election both of the main parties lost ground in actual voting numbers – the libs losses were of course even greater than the Cons. Lord knows what the turnout could look like in this election – if it actually happens of course.

        • Whether or not the Liberals are any better now does nothing to refute the underlying point – the Conservatives were in an ideal position last time around and still failed to win a majority. They still might win a plurality this time around, but people are not being Liberal tools when they suggest the 2008 results may have been a high water mark for Harper.

  12. The other problem is one brought on by the type of reporting we have received lately. The media cannot both decry a party for deciding to back the government in a confidence motion as an example of how they have no backbone etc. and then claim that this same party will foist an "unwanted election" on the Canadian population when it announces that it will no longer support the government on matters of confidence.

    I personally prefer a Parliamentary system but ours is definitely in need of a number of reforms so that we don't oscillate between a "Friendly Dictatorship" and complete minority Parliamentary disfunction.

  13. There are two maddening things about the debate that has been taking place the last number of years with regard to Candadian politics.

    A few years ago the big crisis was that we had a "Friendly Dictatorship" and that the Prime Minister of a majority government had almost llimitless power. And a divided opposition would turn us into a Japan where the internal politics of the ruling party were all that was of interest and the only way to get ahead.

    Now we have political stalemate as long as a minority Prime Minister is unable to "play well with others." In a minority Parlliament obviously the governing party has to find ways to get the agreement of some of the other parties whether through an implicit or explicit agreement or on an ad hoc basis.

    • This reminds me of how everyone complained a few years back about a winter election, then this past summer about a summer election and now about a fall election. It's like there's one week at the end of April that's permissible for an election…

      • Sorry, Charles, I'm busy then. Can we make it early May?

  14. It's all about leadership. I'm old enough to remember Réal Caouette, Lewis – and Pearson and Trudeau heading minority governments. You have to work with the third parties – I'm not talking about coalition here, but about having a positive and conciliatory attitudes towards your political opponents. Harper doesn't have that – he is rudely aggressive and misleading – his name calling for one and the way he bundles his legislation. For Harper it's never about what is good for Canada it's all about what is good for his reelection, as Brodie clearly explained as it regards the GST.

    Canadians were right to remember that minority governments can be a good thing. They now know that it all depends on the leadership qualities of the prime minister. This prime minister is not a leader for Canada. This country is too diversified culturally, politically and linguistically – the methods used by Harper lead to impasse.

    • Loraine, based on my 25 plus years of working on Parliament Hill, I would say you've hit the nail on the head. Minority government can work and work very well, providing the PM knows how to work with the opposition rather than bullying them.

  15. I guess it would be too much to ask for our MP's to represent their constituents on an issue by issue basis.
    To canvas their ryding for a majority opinion on each issue and vote accordingly.
    To answer to the folks they represent for their conduct and voting record instead of a party leader.

    • In a perfect world that would be a great idea. But we have a representative democracy for a reason. Mostly people just don't have the time to get up to speed on every issue, so the expect their elected rep to do it for them. Trouble is far too many of those reps are in thrall to the party system. Direct democracy seems like another fine idea until you get down to the nitty gritty – just look at some of the horrible results of California plebicites. Not that i'm necessarily against putting more power into the hands of ordinary citizens…i just think it's no panacea.

  16. I wonder whether Harper is using "election fatigue" as a strategy – "Give us a majority to put an end to the endless parade of elections."

    Of course, Harper is the cause of the endless parade of elections – including the 2008 vote which violated his own fixed election date law – but he is counting on the voters not remembering that. Giving him a majority now would be like setting up an automatic payment plan to give the school bully your lunch money every day to keep him from tormenting you at recess.

    Why reward the man for creating the problem in the first place? Why can't someone tell him to actually run the country? The irony: if he had actually tried to work with the opposition – if he was capable of that – he might actually have his majority by now. It's not as if the country loves the Liberals.

  17. I wonder whether Harper is using "election fatigue" as a strategy – "Give us a majority to put an end to the endless parade of elections."

    Of course, Harper is the cause of the endless parade of elections – including the 2008 vote which violated his own fixed election date law – but he is counting on the voters to not remember that. Giving him a majority now would be like setting up an automatic payment plan to give the school bully your lunch money every day to keep him from tormenting you at recess.

    Why reward the man for creating the problem in the first place? Why can't someone tell him to actually run the country? The irony: if he had actually tried to work with the opposition – if he was capable of that – he might actually have his majority by now. It's not as if the country loves the Liberals.

    • 'endless parade of elections'
      -Adscam brought down the Liberals and a minority for Martin
      -The Martin government was brought down and tossed out in 2006, and Libs are still thanking Jack for that.
      -Before calling the 2008 election, PMSH governed over the longest running minority in Canadian history, almost 2 1/2 years.
      -2 months after PMSH won his second and increased minority, the opposition formed a coalition, failed to usurp power and have not 'played nice' since….

    • PMSH has the longest running minority government in Canadian history.
      That makes it pretty obvious he knows how to make parliament work.

      Now tell me what exactly MI and Jack have done to TRY to make parliament work.
      The first real sign of it is Jack finally considering the EI proposals PMSH is tabling.

  18. You forgot option 5:

    5) The government passes legislation increasing the number of MPs in areas underrepresented by population.

    As I recall this is scheduled to happen in 2012 or so…

  19. Reported today, MI says no coalition if he wins a minority,
    but: if he doesn't win

    ''…However, when asked whether he excluded a coalition with the opposition parties if the result of an election were another Conservative minority, Ignatieff called it a hypothetical question he didn't "like."

    In French, he said he would seek to form a "good Liberal government, a government of the centre that looks for honourable compromises, that looks to inspire Canadians and to unite them."

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/694750

    So just like Charles Adler said yesterday:
    when he can't win, he manipulates to steal.

  20. You know what? This is all crap. I'm sick and tired of our politicians thinking that running the country is some kind of party they get to go to. At our expense of course. This is it and I'm taking a stand which our voting turn out so far supports. I'm not voting. I don't care who runs or who wins cause it won't make a dam bit of difference in the long run. Other than what it's costing me in my taxes. New day, same crap. I really believe if enough people refuse to vote we just might get on with the idea of running the country. Instead we have some guy that thinks this is some kind of beauty contest that if he just keep entering he'll eventually win. I may never vote again!

  21. Canadians who cherish their Public Health Care System had better hope Harper fails in his attempt for a majority Government. It is a not so well hidden fact that Harper and his supporters are pushing for the Introduction of the misleading so called "in their words" Free Market Principles into Canada's Socialist Health Care System. If you really listen to these Neo-Cons, one can soon see waiting back there a HIDDEN AGENDA. A very UN-Canadian HIDDEN AGENDA.

  22. Harper offered an agreement to BQ in 2004. To over throw the duly elected Government of Paul Martin. This Coup attempt failed at the time. This fact of history proves Harper's Hypocrisy when he uses the Coalition boogeyman lie on Mr. Ignatieff.

  23. Parliamentary reform will happen and only happen if roughly 200 or so unknown faceless and near powerless MP's collectively decide that they have had enough farce and start acting independant of their respective leaders offices. The PMO is overly empowered as are all party leaders offices.
    Those in those offices are only empowered because the rank and file fear being tossed from cabinet and losing what say they have.

  24. Loraine wrote:

    "I'm not talking about coalition here, but about having a positive and conciliatory attitudes towards your political opponents. Harper doesn't have that"

    You mean unlike Jacques and Gilles, who always put the country first, right?

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