lookingup

Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
lookingup

Federal election campaign in Canada now underway

Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority federal government elected in 2004 has just been toppled by a vote of non-confidence in the House of Commons at Ottawa. Minority parliamentary governments are always at some risk of dissolution, but for whatever reason, yesterday was the day the three federal opposition parties banded together to vote Martin's government out of existence. (On minority parliamentary governments.These are created when the party with the most seats elected wins the election, but does not have the numerical majority of seats in the House of Commons; therefore, if the opposition parties vote together on a motion of non-confidence against the sitting federal government, they will constitute the numerical majority in the House of Commons and effectively shut down Parliament, thereby triggering a federal election.)

The CBC has devoted a lot of its coverage so far to determining whether or not Canadians want to have an election campaign over the Christmas holidays. Like we'd all be broken up inside by not having an election while the tulips are blooming. (That was Martin's original suggestion, by the way: to call an election after Gomery Part 2 is released in February.) I don't think it matters when the election will be, though. Nor do I think people care about when the next one falls (although I haven't heard anyone state a compelling reason why the election should be called right now as opposed to six months from now, or longer). Frankly, nothing about this election really matters to me at all. Nothing the federal government does has any real impact on my day to day life. Does it?

One thing that is clear to me is that politics have no substance. The verbal buffoonery that passes for debate in our House of Commons does not fulfill even the most basic definition of that term. The questions posed by MPs seldom (if ever) pertain to specific policy issues so much as they contain clumsily-designed bits of provocative verbiage whose objective is to make it into that night's 15-second audio clip on the news.

And so on.

Politics is a game played by gangs of inarticulate thugs who rake off half of our own incomes each year to provide us with essential social and government services, but for whom there is no means to evaluate their actual performance. We can't check on their progress from day to day, nor can we tell if they're effective at their jobs. If the federal government were a non-profit organization, their administration costs would probably not fall within acceptable ranges. But since they have no oversight on their own activities other than themselves (and a Senate which can only be populated with patronage appointments), the only occasion that ordinary Canadians have to hold their elected officials to account is if they visit their federal election voting booth.

In my particular riding of Halifax, my MP is (former national NDP leader) Alexa McDonough, and irrespective of which party I would like to support in this election, she'll have my vote for strategic reasons. My strategic reasons arise from my newfound appreciation for a minority federal government. I genuinely like the collaborative style of governing that's forced to evolve with this structure. Parties on seemingly different sides of a debate are forced to adopt the common aspects of their platforms in order to make any progress in the House. This isn't a bad thing; it allows each participant to put forward their best ideas and if those ideas are good enough, then they'll be supported by the majority. In theory, anyway.

The next obvious question for me is whether or not we have the right political leaders in place to synthesize those ideas and to create an appropriate culture for effective collaboration in the House. Ironically, I suspect that Paul Martin might have those qualities, but he sure hasn't been able to demonstrate them in the 18 months he's held office. (Not that Harper's helped him there, either. Hello, Stephen? Can you talk about anything other than how corrupt the Liberal government is? Haven't heard an idea out of you yet there, little buddy!) Poor guy, that Paul Martin. I bet he curses Jean Chrétien in five languages before going to bed each night!

  • 1
(Anonymous) November 29th, 2005
Politics is a game played by gangs of inarticulate thugs who rake off half of our own incomes each year to provide us with essential social and government services, but for whom there is no means to evaluate their actual performance.


I liked that.

My strategic reasons arise from my newfound appreciation for a minority federal government. I genuinely like the collaborative style of governing that's forced to evolve with this structure. Parties on seemingly different sides of a debate are forced to adopt the common aspects of their platforms in order to make any progress in the House.

Although I agree with you that in theory minority governments do provide more checks and balances than that of majority governments, I believe there are a few points that counter the positive evidence. A minority government will usually be forced into representing both their party and the official oppositions party (or other equally powerful parties) when trying to pass bills through parliament. This looks good on paper, but in reality this seems to only slow down our already molasses slow government process.

Also, I wonder how other countries like dealing with a minority government? How confident does George Bush (or another leader from an equal or greater country) feel in making agreements with our Prime Minister if he knows that Paul Martin doesn't really have the power to follow through with his decisions. And how does he feel knowing that the relationship he spent 18 months building could (but probably won't - at least this time) be over. Any agreements he had managed to make with the current Prime Minister and party could be very easily be against the policies of the next party that came into power.

I understand that my points are not rock solid, and in all honesty I like the idea of a minority government better; but it just seems like it is not the only solution to an already broken system. We need to see MPs (and maybe they do this over there, but not here) stop voting the party line and learn what the people they represent want – something that in the current system can’t really happen. And second (as you’ve stated) we need a better system of checks and balances, I’d be more comfortable with the US style of government (but
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<not [...] <i>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<blockquote>Politics is a game played by gangs of inarticulate thugs who rake off half of our own incomes each year to provide us with essential social and government services, but for whom there is no means to evaluate their actual performance.</blockquote>

I liked that.

<q>My strategic reasons arise from my newfound appreciation for a minority federal government. I genuinely like the collaborative style of governing that's forced to evolve with this structure. Parties on seemingly different sides of a debate are forced to adopt the common aspects of their platforms in order to make any progress in the House.</q>

Although I agree with you that in theory minority governments do provide more checks and balances than that of majority governments, I believe there are a few points that counter the positive evidence. A minority government will usually be forced into representing both their party and the official oppositions party (or other equally powerful parties) when trying to pass bills through parliament. This looks good on paper, but in reality this seems to only slow down our already molasses slow government process.

Also, I wonder how other countries like dealing with a minority government? How confident does George Bush (or another leader from an equal or <i>greater</i> country) feel in making agreements with our Prime Minister if he knows that Paul Martin doesn't really have the power to follow through with his decisions. And how does he feel knowing that the relationship he spent 18 months building could (but probably won't - at least this time) be over. Any agreements he had managed to make with the current Prime Minister and party could be very easily be against the policies of the next party that came into power.

I understand that my points are not rock solid, and in all honesty I like the idea of a minority government better; but it just seems like it is not the only solution to an already broken system. We need to see MPs (and maybe they do this over there, but not here) stop voting the party line and learn what the people they represent want – something that in the current system can’t really happen. And second (as you’ve stated) we need a better system of checks and balances, I’d be more comfortable with the US style of government (but <not the <i>actual</i> US government). They seem to have it laid out better with each part of office having to agree to take action.

Take it easy man, I hope Sage is doing well.

-Cousin Marc

  • 1
?

Log in