Monday, December 1, 2008

A Lib/NDP Cabinet

We have been told that the cabinet will have 24 members and the PM. The NDP would have six cabinet members. Here are some issues I have:

How will the cabinet report to two separate political caucuses? This is done elsewhere but has not been tried here. The standard in Canada for a generation has been that the PM has all power, how will the NDP handle that?

The PM has a lot of powers on his own, how will Dion engage the NDP and Bloc on appointments?

Who chooses who is in cabinet and who chooses who gets what roles? Does each party have ownership of the positions?

Can the PM fire an NDP cabinet member?

Normally communications goes through a single point in a cabinet - that is how Chretien, Martin and Harper have done it. Will the cabinet members be allowed to speak on their own?

Dion is a lame duck in the middle of a leadership race - how will the NDP deal with a new Liberal leader?

There are MPs in the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc that are not happy with this arrangement at all. Will the parties be able to keep them on side? The government can not afford abstentions, what if some New Democrats miss planes and happen not to be in Ottawa for votes?

How will the NDP deal with a Liberal budget that will be 95% the same as Stephen Harper's? The NDP is going to vote in favour of a budget that supports corporate tax cuts.

How much can the NDP caucus tell their cabinet members what to do?

Being in opposition is a lot easier, finding fault with a government decision is easier, who will the Bloc and the NDP deal with having to back everything the goverment does?

A minority parliament is hard enough to navigate when you have a strongly unfied party and the best PM in Canadian history in handling this is Stephen Harper. Stephane Dion does not strike me as having the skills to hold this coalition together, let alone govern well. Every cabinet meeting is going to be a battle between the NDP and the Liberals with the NDP feeling resentful that they are not listened to.

Stephen Harper had to find one party to either abstain or support his party to govern. Stephane Dion will need the agreement of all three parties for everything. This is a task that is virtually almost impossible to achieve.
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