Comment: A Coalition Government

by timothy. 9 Comments

On the weekend I downloaded the results available at Elections Canada and did some number crunching. Thanks to the miracle of the spreadsheet, this was something that only took about a half-hour to do. The numbers remind us that the Conservatives only got 10.4 million votes, while the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc combined got 15 million. Thus Stephen Harper is full of shit, which is pretty much nothing new, as far as many are concerned.

As for talk of an alliance with Separatists, I too think this is bullshit. Since when as the Bloc been a threat? Since 1995, thirteen years ago. Now they are a Quebec chauvinist party who represent Quebec self-interest in the federal government. Given that a lack of representation and fair dealing throughout the 20th Century is what led Quebec to believe they needed to separate, perhaps the Bloc’s place in the House over the past fifteen years has been sufficient to defuse that threat. Yes, on paper, they’re Separatists. Also, on paper, the Pope believes in Jesus. But the Bloc is not a threat, and like the Pope, probably enjoy their political power and influence more than they do their ideology.

Which is exactly where Harper as gone so wrong – trying to mix his power with his noxious ideology. Seventeen million people did not vote for the Conservatives. Seventeen million Canadians rejected their ideals. Yet, with ten million votes, we found them in power. And what a Chomskyian fall – by that meaning their undoing followed Chomsky’s usual analysis that governments get into trouble when they fuck with powerful interests. All through the pre-election Parliament, the Liberals refused to challenge Harper’s regime. This is what earned my disgust with Stephen Dion, not the Carbon Tax. Now that they’ve finally stood up for themselves and for their representatives, I look forward to Dion as a Prime Minister. And yet, it was the threat to remove their public funding which became the straw that broke this camel’s back. Well, whatever. Lets bygones be bygones – the Separatists are not a threat, nor are they treasonous etc. Dion is no longer being pusillanimous. Harper is no longer appearing reasonable and respectable. Bring on the future.

One constitutional lawyer (also a University of Toronto professor), was on Don Newman’s Politics last evening (Mon Dec 1; begins at 11:19). The talk was a lack of historical precedence, in terms of giving this legitimacy. So what? Why does that even need to be a concern? Can’t this Parliament set a precedent? Indeed, this whole scenario is a heartwarming reminder that there are stop-gaps in place to prevent dictatorships and tyrannies. Mind you, that take on it might not be valid if the governing party was in the Majority. Nevertheless, what I saw when watching Layton, Dion and Duceppe’s news conference last evening was history, an historic handshake like similar foundational handshakes in national histories. John Ralston Saul likes to talk about the agreement between Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, and how this arrangement laid the foundations for Confederation. A coalition government at this time could be the foundation of collaborative government which would be appropriate to the networked 21st Century. For all we know, this type of thing could lead to a revised Constitution in fifty years.

Repeated accusations of the parties playing partisan politics, and using the Bloc as a denigration, is entirely missing this point. Big picture, long term, we should have a government where the parties work together, where they represent a multitude of voices and different ideas, and this could free us from rule by one-party ideologues the likes of Harper, or for that matter, the likes of Chretien. Further, the Reform party (from which Harper sprang) found its first members among those who were angry with the Trudeau-era Liberals (who, granted, worked with the NDP during one of their terms). The point here being that breaking one-party majority rules who just piss off a lot of people off is probably a good thing for all. Historians may look at this as an evolution of politics which began with the return to Minority Parliaments after the Chretien years. Minorities which lead to Coalitions which lead to fairer representation at the Federal level. If anything, (and if they can get this right), this may enable future under-represented voices to be heard. And one can hope that amidst the economic stimuli, they find the time to bring in Proportional Representation, since it’s now to their mutual advantage.

In my excitement last night, I posted on as my Facebook status: ‘I am so proud of my parliament right now. This is Canada’s Obama moment. Wow.’ What I meant was that a bold, change-oriented, imaginative thing was underway, which put into contrast the status-quo we are used to. The election of Barack Obama was a result of a majority of Americans consciously choosing a different path, one that lead them into the 21st Century. Obama promises a government of transparency and of networked sophistication.

As Canadians, we aren’t there yet. But a majority of Canadians consciously chose to vote for parties other than the Conservatives, who would never lead us there to begin with. The five million more who voted past the Conservatives ten million will now feel like they’ve gotten the government they were asking for. They (and we, as I was one of them) deserve to be represented, and for our common desire to see a better country given a chance to be implemented.

9 Responses to Comment: A Coalition Government

  1. Maudie says:

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful article! I agree with most everything you’ve said and wish the Coalition clear sailing and much success. It would be great to see the last of Stephen Harper and his wrecking crew in Ottawa, and the Coalition is a creative and procedurally acceptable way to make it happen. It’s also urgent to replace the Harper government before the economy suffers from any more neo-conservative economics, the way the US suffered for eight long years under George W. Bush’s neo-conservative regime. Canadians deserve better. Fortunately, the majority of us voted for people who know how to do better.

  2. Amanda says:

    I think the coalition is nothing but a bunch of hurt egos still trying to take over Canada when we have already spoken at 2 elections in the last 2 years. Not sure how Canadians can allow this to happen. WE HAVE ALREADY SPOKEN… The Liberals and NDPs are a bunch of tax mongers and all they want is to drive our country down into economic disaster.


  3. melanie watts says:

    I agree with you. But now we have to wait until Parliament is adjourned before we can get rid of Harper and his ilk. I’m not looking forward to the political bickering that will surely ensue in the interim.

  4. Kim says:

    I find it so very ironic, Why do you say this is our Obama moment…give me a break, during the election all i heard was Harper was soo much like Bush. Forget comparing us to the States , we are Canadian, we don’t need an Obama moment. For some people, its like we have to copy everything the US does, so hey let’s have our own little celebration so we can say “hey we are just like big brother”. We have our own Obama moment here…unbeliveable!

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