I Don’t Know What To Think About Our Government

As you’ve probably heard, our federal government has gone a bit mad. If nothing else, this political crisis has taught an unsuspecting nation the meaning of the word prorogation.

I really don’t know what to think on this one.

There seems to be plenty of blame to spread around. Prime Minister Harper seemed pretty eager to goad the opposition with inaction on a stimulus package and the elimination of political subsidies (now off the table). The opposition seem all to keen to exploit this apparent misstep for all it’s worth. And poor, nerdy Elizabeth May is still trying to get a seat at the table.

What’s Best For Canadians?

It’s a simple question to ask, but I can’t answer it. Who are the better guides through murky economic waters? The Conservatives or a coalition? What kind of economic stimulus package (in your pants–sorry, just needed to get that out of the way) does the country need? And should we really bail out the auto industry? I’m philosophically opposed to such bailouts, but that’s a pretty unthinking response.

And then there are the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure. I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole mandate issue. Everybody in the House of Commons has a mandate. Prime Minister Harper’s high ground looks no taller than a pitcher’s mound when you consider his minority position and the fact that his party only received 38% of the popular vote.

Several of my left-leaning colleagues have invited me sign petitions or join Facebook groups supporting the coalition of the Liberals, NDP (doesn’t Mr. Layton look like an eager spaniel these days?) and the Bloc. I won’t blindly do so just because I voted Green in the last election. It seems a little petty, particularly when there are parliamentary processes in place for the parties to resolve matters, one way or another.

I’m not usually a fence-sitter. I’d like to hear the summarized professional opinions of about fifty economists regarding what Canada needs to weather the economic downturn. That might clarify what I think the country needs.

Where do you stand?


  1. Oh hell, I don’t know. I’m taking some delight in what a mess this has turned into for Mr. Harper and his party, who in their package last week simply reinforced the cynical bully image that cost them a majority government back in October.

    On the other hand, I can’t see how this coalition can govern effectively if they take the Conservatives down, with a shaky group of ideologically differing parties led by Mr. Dion, who’s due to be replaced in a few months after leading his party to a record poor showing in that same October election.

    As for what our government should actually DO, I think some additional spending to create jobs in (a) R&D in reducing carbon emissions, energy conservation, and renewable energy production (wind, tidal, geothermal, solar, etc.), (b) preparing to accommodate climate change, which is now going to come no matter how we reduce emissions, and (b) rebuilding infrastructure across the country. That might be helpful. Kick some money into Canadian electric cars, perhaps.

  2. Unfortunately most Canadians are buying the BS that Harper is serving.

    It IS democratic, the Bloc is NOT a part of the coalition, there WAS a flag (2 of em) at the signing ceremony, they DO have a mandate, it is NOT a coup, it is NOT treasonous, it IS what Canadians voted for etc etc etc.

    So I fear the naive furor that Harper so wildly whipped up against Dion in the election will be spun out of control once again leading to a solid Conservative majority in the next election (whenever that is).

    Presently, I support a coalition. A collaborative, cooperative government with input from parties with different ideologies cant be a bad thing (unless they toss billions at Oshawa).

    Regardless of the outcome, I would just wish for Canadians to go back over their Grade 9 study notes from Socials and realize this is ALL legitimate, it is ALL legal and it is the greatest thing about the parliamentary system – it DEMANDS responsible and collaborative government.

  3. I’m amazed at the tone of voice this debate is generating on FB – lots of name calling. Name calling is the first defence of a weak debater.

    I think a coalition would be brilliant – much more stable than a minority gov. With their contract to work together they could guarantee us a longer parliament than Harper who could be “no confidenced” out (and into another waste of money election) at any point.

    I think Canadians are pissed at the waste from that election and deserve a chance to have their government run itself for a while.

    Let’s Green Economy our way out of this recession.

    Seems to me that 1) the Conservative Party is feeling pretty desperate at this point and 2) it’s not the best idea in the world to appoint a Prime Minister who has already submitted his resignation. Let’s really stir this up and let Jack be the PM.

  4. I loath the thought of this coalition government. Yes it within our parlimentary rules, yet I still think its is distasteful (same feeling I get for floorcrossers…Emerson, Stronach, Wilson..etc). Even worse is the flavour of this coalition… a liberal party in shambles, and NDP party headed by someone of questionable sanity, and a man leading a party that doesn’t want to be a part of Canada.

    Liberals = Dion is the most unpopular Liberal leader ever, and his replace will not arrive for 7 months. If the infighting was bad between the Rea & Ignatius camps, how bad will it be one the carrot dangled before them is the PM’s office, and not just leader of the official opposition.

    NDP = They have never had the remotest shot of forming government, and that has freed them to have a very pie in the sky ideology. Off load all expenses and createmore expenses and add them all to the corporate tax structure. There is a place for that idea, but I am not sure its a realistic view of the world. They are needed to be a strong force for throwing out ideas…not for governing.

    Bloq = A New Nation.

    To be fair, I was screaming at my TV set a few years ago when the Cons. were courting the bloq. It was offensive to me then, it offensive to me now.

    I just wonder what all the consessions to the Bloq & the NDP are, so that Liberal rule can be re-established.

    As for the triggers for this whole debate.

    Tax payer money going to the politcal parties has always bothered me. I have given to parties in the past, and if your done have grass route support, you should be in the game.

    No incentive package. Intil we know what is going to happen in regards to the Auto bail out in the US, it would be iresponsible to throw monay at the auto sector. Like it or lump it, we are bound to the US, and the future of the Cnadian Auto sector is completley in the US hands. I would like to see a carrot for the workers, but not the industry.

  5. Why does a coalition make people ‘angry’? Coalitions are never ideal, but rather are provisional in the face of dysfunction or crisis. It’s what they’re designed for since an election isn’t always the answer. Clearly so in this case, where the last two haven’t produced a stable government. If one needs something to blame, blame the electorate.

  6. I think, given the Canadian voting population has voted in three minority governments in a row, this is prime timing for a coalition government. Clearly Canadians don’t feel strongly enough about any of the parties to give a clear mandate, and want them to work together. The proposed coalition is about as together as the parties can get.

  7. Harper has no credibility. He was unable, in two elections, to win a majority vote and therefore government. Last week he lost the confidence of the house. Tomorrow when he has his conversation with
    Michaelle Jean I hope she tells him to step down and hand over the reasonability of running parliament to the coalition. I see no problem in letting left leaning Liberal Stephane Dion and Socialist Jack Layton run the country. All this crap, spouted by Harper, about Gilles Duceppe wanting control so he can weaken Canada is as Ed Broadbent says a Lie. Harper doesn’t need Jean’s consent to prorogue parliament He has the power to do it himself. I think it would be a mistake. There are too many real issues to worry about we do not need to spend anytime bickering over who gets to run the government.
    Makes for great entertainment though.

  8. I’m not sure where I stand with all of this just yet (though I know this coalition is legal, constitutional, democratic, and that the Bloc is actually not a part of it — which is more than you can say about most Canadians knowledge of the issue) but there is one thing I wanted to highlight about the Canadian political situation that often gets ignored.

    The fact that this is happening through debate in parliament, and not through violence or military coups, is amazing.

    We often take it for granted that we’ve got the ability to have productive civic discourse in this country, while other countries don’t have that luxury because of their tenuous political situations.

    For that, I’m thankful.

    Hat tip to Karim Kanji for the reminder: http://inspirationbykarim.blogspot.com/2008/12/im-in-love.html

  9. When Colin Brumelle asked me yesterday on Twitter whether we were having a coup (he’s out of the country), I replied jokingly, “The coup is only as fun as a Canadian coup could be, i.e. mostly involves lots of background hooting during Question Period.”

    It was a joke, but I also had a serious point in line with Sameer’s. The scheming and vitriol conceal that we’re still playing by the rules. No one is declaring himself Prime Minister for Life, arresting opposition politicians, or sending troops out to kill protesters. That does happen elsewhere.

  10. I think the problem is that the Conservatives have failed to realize that a minority government is essentially a coalition put in place by the Canadian people.

    By creating a minority Conservative government, we gave them power under the condition that they work with the other parties. They abused this power by giving the other parties the finger, thinking they could get away with it.

    Between giving Harper an underserved second chance, handing power an unstable coalition, or forcing an election that would likely put us right back where we are right now, I think proroging is the lesser of three evils as long as they get their collective acts together PDQ.

    Here’s hoping that the GG knocks some sense into all of them this morning.

  11. I pray that your excellency does not allow the proposed coalition to take power. This would be an absolute disaster both for our economy and our unity. Investors around the world will cringe and stay away. The coalition cannot possible provide stable government and I believe the Conservative government is doing a prudent job. AND by the way they do have an economic plan that is being currently worked on as well as measures already taken. I would like to see parliament prorogued with a condition that the four leaders must sit down together immediately and come up with a plan that will keep our country on good financial ground and report back to you. I would rather see an election than a coaltion giving separatists so much control.

  12. I didn’t vote for Harper or Dion or Layton – I voted for my MP, and elected MPs make up the government … you get what you pay for, until we have electoral reform.
    I agree with Sameer and Derek – at least in Canada we fight political battles with big words, not big guns.

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