Friday, December 5, 2008

The Numbers in Ottawa

The simple reality in Ottawa is that the Conservatives have 143 seats and the Coalition has 114. No matter how you slice it, the opposition has significantly more seats than the government if the Coalition governs. We have never has this situation in before in Canadian history. It is not like it is even close.

Ed Broadbent has been working hard to make the case that the coalition is only the NDP and the Liberals. While this may be formally true, it is not the defacto reality. It is because of this dramatic difference that really the coalition has to defacto include the Bloc in the coalition and it is this defacto situation that is pissing off so many people in Canada. To most Canadians the idea of the Bloc in government, the party almost all Canadians consider seperatists, is simply unacceptable.

Dion and Layton have made the issue of seperation and western alienation front and centre issues in federal politics in Canada by cutting a formal deal with the Bloc.

As much as am a huge fan of electoral reform in the form of STV, I also understand that most Canadians believe only Harper won the election and that only Harper is entitled to be PM. The public wants the parties to work with the government and to keep them in check, they are not looking for a new election or a new government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The current federal situation raises the interesting question of how exactly an opposition can hold a government to account, particularly an opposition as currently constituted with a leader who has announced his resignation. The only mechanism open to the opposition if the government does not negotiate in good faith is to call for a vote of non-confidence. This results in two unpalatable choices - either the weak and unpopular coalition takes control (which I regard as democratically valid, but definitely problematic under current circumstances) or a new election is called.

If the new election were a fair one (ie, one in which the results would accurately reflect how the voters voted), I would support this, but since we've just had an election and the Liberals have not yet had time to resolve their leadership situation, I don't think this would be fair to the voters who oppose the current government - these voters have a right to have a reasonable option put forward to vote for, and that will likely not be available for several months.

I therefore think that Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion should both resign and their successors use this period of prorogation to negotiate a kind of 'Grand Coalition' to steer Canada through the coming year. Ideally, they would also initiate an electoral reform process that would guarantee accurate representation of voters in future elections. At that point, they should dissolve parliament and face the voters.