The mother Parliament -

The mother Parliament


As Britain embarks on—dear lord, no!—coalition governance, Chris Selley attempts to draw lessons.

In short, what we’re seeing in Britain this week is a wakeup call. Canada has been playing Parliament in “beginner” mode. It’s in everyone’s best interests, I think, to give “intermediate” mode a try. I fail to see how it could make things worse.


The mother Parliament

  1. Beginner mode? We're still in sandbox mode.

    • It's really quite embarrassing.

  2. other differences: The UK coalition was formed BEFORE the Queen appointed her first minister, and not AFTER the House had held 2 confidence votes, in favour of the newly appointed Conservative govt.

    Wilson, it's a difference that doesn't matter. If the thieves-commies-traitors(TM) coalition voted non-confidence, they would have had parliamentary legitimacy to attempt to gain power without an election. Bad for the country? You bet. But legitimate.

    unlike the Cdn version, they not deceive the general public swearing they would not go into a coalition.

    You're in a glass house, there, pal. The Tories used deceptive language, in public, when they attacked the legitimacy of the coalition.

    And the Brit "experts" opinions are irrelevant to the rule of law.


    3:48 – "And the opposition does not have the democratic right to impose a coalition with the separatists they promised voters would never happen. The opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent, and without your vote."

    Up your nose with a rubber hose.

    I would infer, that if a group of people were imposing something against my consent, it would be illegal. Many things are.

    Does he *outright* say doing so would be illegal? No, Stephen Harper does not outright say that a coalition Government would be illegal. But he does contend that groups that do not hold a plurality of parliamentary seats are ineligible to form government (…"the opposition does not have the democratic right"…) and then continues to imply that groups of individuals who can reach consensus are not the expression of our functioning democracy, but rather are an imposition by a group of undemocratically elected radicals who legally do not have our consent to form government (…"he opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent, and without your vote."…).

    No, he doesn't outright say a coalition is illegal. But he does a good smear campaign against the Bloc and seriously misrepresents how our democracy functions.

    QUICK. He needs to get on the horn to Britain and tell them they're violating the system of government they conceived!

    • oooooooooo, on my second point, he should really get into launching that inquiry at Elections Canada to figure out how all these un-elected bums keep waking him up at 2:15 every weekday (11:15 on Fridays)!

    • Uhm. You may want to actually read the message you're replying to.

  4. "I fail to see how it could make things worse."
    Sure they formed a coalition government painlessly enough. Will it be better, more effective, long lasting. To soon to tell, but it'll be fun watching.

    • I agree Mark; boy, would politics be interesting then.

    • For a coalition to truly work, everyone would have to take some serious conflict resolution courses, especially the "collaborating" part. LOL – I just momentarily imagined them all trying to practice their new skills in QP. I can sort of imagine Rae calmly trying to paraphrase Baird to get a better understanding on what Baird was trying to say, but not the reverse.

  5. There is nothing wrong with coalitions – they have even happened within Canadian history – though our political system tends to inhibit cooperation. There is something wrong with a coalition containing people that aim to destroy the country, with a leader supported by about 10% of the country (based on best PM polls), after an election where one of the parties denied they would ever consider forming a coalition. Drinking expired milk is not illegal, but it is still a bad idea.

  6. Sedition I think was the word he used…

  7. I can only pray that the Libs will now see the light and sit down with the NDP to work something out.

    • But, I don`t see the connection between a coalition in Britian between the leading Party ( Conservatives ) and a centrist Party ( Liberal Democrats ) and a coalition in Canada between a left-wing Party ( NDP ) and the second Party ( Liberals ) who have only about half as many seats as the leading Party ( Conservatives ).

      • common man, I honestly have no patience for people who do not know the very basics of parliamentary democracy. Go to the library, ok?

        • PJ, calm down….I`m just telling you the numbers don`t work in your proposed scenario.
          Use a calculator, ok ?

          • Is this the part where you raise the specter of an unholy union with the Bloc a.k.a the forces of Darkness?

            Common man, I am going to bet you $5 that should Harper be faced with the potential union of the Libs and Dippers, he will be the first one to run to the Bloc for a deal. In fact, if Iggy has any sense, he will try to beat Harper to it. Unlike Iggy, Harper doesn't need the NDP in this equation so he has less horse trading to do. Iggy has to bring in the NDP and the Bloc to make this work. Then again, the next election might change that.

            Seems pretty clear to me that Quebec is key in the next election. If one can't beat Duceppe, team up with him and majority rule is yours.

          • Well, that certainly changes things… your original post you did not mention that you were including the Bloc in your calculation.
            So your proposal is to have two regional parties ( the Libs and Bloc ) join forces with a small national Party ( NDP ) and campaign to unseat an existing national Party that is just a few seats short of a majority.
            That would be a very interesting Election campaign. I`m sure the Conservatives are hoping the Lib war room takes your advice.

          • Oh, I`m not disagreeing with your proposal…….It`s brilliant; It would provide a clear contrast for the electorate and I would certainly hope the electorate would be aware of the possible joining of forces.
            See, that might be the problem; maybe the electorate would think that the combination of the spending socialists, the Quebec separtists, and the anything-for power Libs might just be disasterous for the country.

          • common, do the math. The majority of canadians prefer the other options to Harper. That's why he's leading a minority govt. What do you think will happen once those other options combine forces?

          • I think another way of putting it is that what PJ proposes is perfectly fine, legal and workable and all that. But campaigning on it — running an election campaign on that basis — could be extremely problematic. And to me, it's based on an assumption that you could get the electorate and the electoral stars to line up more or less perfectly around a universal "we want Harper out" banner. But usually, elections and election campaigns are more multi-faceted than that.

    • The NDP and Liberals combined have fewer seats than the Conservatives, and certainly not a majority. Any credible coalition would rely upon the support of the Bloc Quebecois – something that was a key sticking point the first time around. Frankly, it amazes me how short-sighted you coalitionistas are. Lets say I hate Harper and want to keep him and his party out over the long haul. Here are my options:
      1. Form a short-lived coalition that is reliant on the Bloc, and contradictory to Ignatieff's statements upon becoming leader and Dion's statements during the last election. Badly lose the next election (which will come as soon as an election is favorable for the Bloc) due to the dalliance with the Bloc and hypocrisy over the coalition.

      2. Wait till an opportune moment and VONC Harper. Be open about my intentions to form an NDP-Liberal coalition, if collectively the two parties win enough support. Use prorogation, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Jaffergate, and the unfair distribution of stimulus money to whack Harper and almost certainly win more seats than in2008, vastly improving the conditions for an effective coalition. Even though Ignatieff is doing poorly in the polls, so too is Harper. The Liberals should be able to win about 100 seats, while the NDP can win about 40. That is a far better position from which to claim you can credibly lead parliament.

      Plan ahead, people!

  8. "The UK coalition includes the party that actually won the election, which is a pretty significant difference."

    UKBA go back to school or read the papers for God sake.

  9. So did a few reporters. Where are they now, huh?

  10. A coalition of sorts between the NDP and Libs is possible if Iggy pulls his head out of his a$$. Layton and his party are so desperate for power, they would probably agree to join them without having any seats at the Cabinet table.

    This is such an obvious solution to the Harper problem that you have to wonder if the Libs really do want to get back in power.

    • Ok PJ, what am I missing here — I thought the combined Liberal-Dipper seat count equals 114. Out of a Parliament of 308 seats. That doesn't equal control of the House. How would that solve the problem?

  11. "Note too, the Brit 'experts' said a Labour/LibDem coalition would be illegitimate,
    and called it a "coalition of losers". "

    A political opinion is not the same as a legal assessment. It would be up to the politicians invovled sell their take. That's what happened here.

  12. get a room.

    • Heh.

      My initial reaction was "Yuck!!", but then the ;-) from CR did change that to a small chuckle.

      • Yes, thank goodness I included the ;-).

        • I hope my reply was taken in the context of the ;-)

          • No worries – it was!

  13. Oh, I'm not trying to whitewash Lenin in any way. He was a nasty dude with abhorrent ideas.

    But, as a historian, it always bugs me when someone tries to re-write or re-characterize history just to score a political point today.

    Which is clearly the case here. Lenin can in no way be accurately described as one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century. He unleashed a regime that would certainly, after his death under Stalin lead to great mass murder. He was certainly responsible for horrible repression and directly for the deaths of hundreds perhaps thousands. But the "competition" as you note kind of makes him look very nursery school. The White Terror to which the Red Terror was a response was even worse and in our own history (as in Western) our leaders have been responsible for worse in India under Britain, aboriginals in North America, death camps like Andersonville in the US (not 20th C, yes, but dwarfs any of Lenin's numbers), etc..

  14. By the way, the word "separatists" should have been in quotation marks (SH quote).

  15. Who says the name Crit-Reasoning belongs to a male? Silly of me to make that assumption all along. (?)

    • I'm a man. I was just kidding about the "soulmate" thing, but I really am quite fond of ol' Chris–I read Full Pundit daily, and I always enjoy it.

      • Thanks for the clarification CR.

  16. ""A hung parliament is not a 'people's parliament', it is the opposite: it is a politician's parliament. Policy is the result of post-election bargaining. The people do not get a look in. Compromises are reached which may bear no relationship to what electors want, which were never placed before them, and which they may have no opportunity to pass judgment on at the next election if parties stand as independent entities: there is no one body to call to account." Lord Norton, Telegraph, May 12

    "It's in everyone's best interests, I think, to give “intermediate” mode a try. I fail to see how it could make things worse." Chris Selley

    Think harder, Selley. Coalition government would be terrible and not at all democratic. Harper did the right thing when he choose to govern himself and not sign up coalition with another party.

    And I am far from certain Con supporters would role over that easy about coalition with Bloc. People were angry about coalition with Lib/NDP/Bloc a couple of years ago well before Cons got on message about socialists and separatists.

  17. Big C Conservatives get pretty riled up about the Bloc. It's convenient and all, but they actually have some well thought out policy. I'd rather see a Lib/Bloc coalition than a Lib/NDP coalition. They'd be less interested in winning points for points sake, like our current situation, because they're vote is pretty stable with not much room to grow.

    • I'd also rather see a Con/Bloc coalition than a Con/Lib coalition, for what it's worth.

    • It isn't just Big C Conservatives, its English Canadians. When they polled Canadians on support for the coalition about 70% opposed the cooperation of the Bloc. Assuming that Francophones were more likely to support Bloc participation, it isn't exactly a big logical leap to conclude that the vast majority of English Canadians do not want a government beholden to the separatists. Indeed, those of us with a political memory extending back 6 years can recall the Martin ads suggesting Harper would align himself with the Bloc (and the 90s where Chretien turned just about every public policy debate into a matter of national unity).

      The Bloc Quebecois wants to destroy Canada. That isn't just me interpreting their goals either – it is the raison d'etre of the party. In the past some conservatives deluded themselves into believing that the Bloc shared their vision of a decentralized Canada. Today many lefties think the Bloc shares their vision of a Canada with a much more extensive welfare state (although on the issue of Health Care Quebec is to the right of the rest of the country, and Quebec's socialism is inseparable from an ugly ethnic nationalism not shared by the left elsewhere).

      Neither of these perspectives are wrong, but they miss the priorities of the Bloc. The Bloc wants more power for only one province – Quebec. The Bloc wants a bigger welfare state too – in an independent Quebec (its provincial counterparts have been more than willing to scale back the welfare state in order to strengthen the case for independence anyhow). No party that seriously cares about the survival of Canada can form a coalition with the Bloc in good conscience.

  18. I don't think the NDP can be trusted to run a lemonade stand, much less a country, but I'd rather see an NDP majority government than any government that includes the Bloc. At least the NDP is trying to make Canada a better place.