Finally, Canada’s political scene is heating up and getting interesting again. Not that I’m really that thrilled about the timing of it. (my apologies, links here are going to be a bit biased, I’m using CBC)
In extreme brief, we just had an election, and the Conservatives won a minority government. The Liberals and the NDP have formed a coalition (check here to see what they signed), supported by the Bloc, and are moving to bring down government in a vote of nonconfidence. Possible outcomes of this are either we go back to election or they are given control of parliament. Who decides? This is one of the few times in Canada when the Governor General, the Queen’s representative, has real power. In the meantime, the Prime Minister is trying to gain a ‘time out’ by proroguing parliament until January when they will present a budget. Neat side-effect of this is that anything currently ‘on the table’ and unresolved is tossed in the garbage. Again, the GG has the power to say no. Here’s another twist – traditionally if the GG does not take the advice of the PM, the PM is then obliged to step down or to ask the GG to dissolve parliament for an election.
There’s a lot more going on under the main story that makes these waters very murky. See those links above? Explore. Personally my opinion is inconsistent, and highly susceptible to new information. I make up my mind that going to election would be best for Canada, then discuss it with a friend, stranger, or parent, and see how perhaps another option might be best.
But that’s not why I’m writing about this tonight. I’m not trying to present my case for why I think that X might be best. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind.
I just want to share my amazement.
In early October we had our election. Nobody talked about it, beyond, “You gonna vote?” “I dunno, yeah. If I can get there.” Voter turnout at the polls was dismal. Canadians were apathetic to put it mildly.
What is going on now has EVERYONE talking. I am amazed and impressed. Strangers are talking on the bus about whether or not the Governor General has the right to go against what the PM advises. Lunchroom chatter dances around whether or not the Bloc will really support the coalition for 18 months, and what they are receiving in exchange for their support. Coffee shop regulars were discussing whether or not the coalition’s actions are democratic. Everywhere, people speculate about back-room dealings, about what the Governor General will do, about what all the players will do, and what will happen in the end?
Like many others I’ve spent the last couple of days greedily learning as much as I can cram into my brain about the Governor General’s position, about minority governments, about the King-Byng affair, about smaller-level coalitions, and more. This can’t be a bad thing.
The timing of all of this sucks. Instability in government is the kiss of death to an economy, and Canada’s been doing comparatively speaking well. Allowing the PM to prorogue is unstable. Going back to election is unstable, at least short-term. Allowing the coalition to govern is unstable – who knows what the bloc will do, what the different parties are spinning the agreement to really mean, and who will even lead it in a few months. Still, I’m thrilled to watch the average Canadian sit up and take notice of how their country is being run.