Monday, August 30, 2010

Stephen Harper May Get His Coalition Government, Only This Time He's Out of the Loop

The Reform-Alliance-Conservative parties tried twice to lead a coalition government.

In 2000, it was Stockwell Day courting Gilles Duceppe, until Duceppe put the brakes on.
"Day repeatedly journeyed to Quebec ... During August and September, Day stepped up these efforts, going even further to suggest the Alliance party welcome Quebec separatists and might even consider forming a national coalition government with the Bloc Quebecois .... But Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said he wanted nothing to do with Day whose values (re: gay rights, abortion, youth justice) Duceppe described as "inspired by the United States..." (1)
The New York Times also covered the story and quoted Conrad Black as saying that he was against it and that Stockwell Day should quit fooling around.
''The Canadian Alliance leader needs to stop playing footsie with Quebec separatist leaders right now,'' thundered the The National Post, which has more commonly been a cheerleader for Mr. Day. In an interview on Tuesday, Conrad Black, chairman of The National Post, said the strategy would not work.
In 2004, it was Stephen Harper's turn to court Duceppe and Jack Layton, though Layton eventually pulled the plug, leaving Harper without enough seats to make it work.

Then in 2008, learning from Harper and Day, the opposition parties got together to form a coalition to remove the Reform-Alliance-Conservative Party and all hell broke loose. Suddenly it was now undemocratic ... a coup ... treason! Wow. What a difference less than a decade makes.

But the Hill Times is suggesting that now might be right, given that we are the only Parliamentary system that has never used this valuable and democratic tool to make government work.
While parties in Australia and Britain are working together to make Parliament work after citizens there elected 'hung' Parliaments recently, Canada's minority government is stuck in a hyper-partisan adversarial environment, say some political scientists. And they think the country's antiquated first-past-the-post voting system is at least partly to blame. "The old, simple two-party polarity just doesn't exist in any country in the world, except the U.S.A.," says London School of Economics political scientist Patrick Dunleavy.

The number of parties vying for seats in many western Parliaments tends to be growing, says Prof. Dunleavy. New parties are gaining ground over traditional players. In the last 20 years, Canada has seen the emergence of the Green Party and regional movements such as the Bloc Québécois and Reform Party in the West. Australia's own Green Party is rising.

In dealing with the changing nature of politics, "The other countries in the Westminster model group have adapted to coalition politics," says Prof. Dunleavy. "But Canadians seem to have more of a difficulty than the British and the Australians."
With 2/3 of Canadians rejecting the Harper regime, this could be the best, and possibly the only solution, to ensure that all citizens have a voice.


1. "Bloc leader denounces Day's ideas", Edmonton Journal, August 14, 2000.

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