The coalition and Canadian democracy

My friend Mike has written an interesting post about Canada’s ongoing political situation, and the possibility the Conservative minority will be replaced by a Bloc-supported NDP-Liberal coalition:

stephen harper, who is huge fan of blind canadian patriotism à l’américaine, has taken it upon himself to re-align the country along more populist lines. the frightening thing is that he does not just do this through legislation (i.e. “screw the scientists; safe-injection sites have to go!”), but he does it by changing the icons of our national heritage (i.e. “it’s not a coalition; it’s a coup d’état!”). basically, harper is applying the traditional centralised power of the prime minister’s office in a manner that is reminiscent of the american political system. in other words, he’s playing baseball with a hockey stick.

herein lies the rub (and the danger): what stephen harper is doing in this scenario is pretending that he not only has a parliamentary majority (which he doesn’t), but also that he can govern by divine right since his government was directly elected. this is incorrect, and he knows it.

Since it is interesting – and because I am too busy to write anything substantive today – I suggest that readers go have a look at the whole post. It makes a good case for both better understanding of Canada’s existing political system and traditions and for some ways in which they could be usefully modified.

On a related note, Watawa Life has a photo of ‘Hotties for Harper’ protesting against the coalition on Parliament Hill.

[Update: 28 January 2009] As of today’s Liberal response to yesterday’s Conservative budget, it seems the possibility of a coalition is dead, at least for now.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “The coalition and Canadian democracy”

  1. Liberals propose plan to speed up Dion departure

    OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff appears poised to become federal Liberal leader on Wednesday with the support of a majority of Grit MPs and senators.

    But his chief rival, Bob Rae, is not going down without a fight. He’s challenging the legitimacy of a leadership process that excludes tens of thousands of rank and file Liberals.

  2. Dion has resigned.

    His statement is here.

    “The alliance between the Liberal Party and the NDP to replace the Harper government, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, is a solid basis to give Canada a government that reflects both the aspirations of the majority of Canadians and the support of the majority of Members of Parliament. Such a government would be more stable than a minority Conservative government incapable of cooperating with opposition parties.

    As the Governor General has granted a prorogation, it is a logical time for us Liberals to assess how we can best prepare our party to carry this fight forward.

    There is a sense in the party, and certainly in the caucus, that given these new circumstances the new leader needs to be in place before the House resumes. I agree. I recommend this course to my party and caucus. As always, I want to do what is best for my country and my party, especially when Canadians’ jobs and pensions are at risk.

    So I have decided to step aside as Leader of the Liberal Party effective as soon as my successor is duly chosen.”

  3. “Meanwhile, this great democracy of ours has ceased to function. We have no government because they just can’t get along. It is a mess that defies comprehension but has one simple solution.

    We need one more strange-bedfellows event: a historic press conference at which Stephen Harper and Stéphane Dion apologize to their country and then to their parties. And then they resign — no questions please.

    Because, quite frankly, they deserve one another — and Canada deserves better.”

  4. Harper to fill Senate vacancies

    Coalition worries spur move to put Tories in all 18 seats by year’s end; Liberals and New Democrats decry move as ‘shocking’ reversal


    Globe and Mail Update

    December 11, 2008 at 3:46 PM EST

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