The people have spoken
June 29, 2004
Snapshot of the CBC page
So ... the Canadian people cast their ballots and selected the first minority government since 1979. And the situation is even more volatile since no two parties can unite to create a majority (Liberals and NDP are still one seat short). What does this mean? How did it happen?
First, a little background for the American readers. The Canadian election suffered the fate of "3-level" world news on behind "Karzai: Send NATO troops now" and "Chirac chides Bush over Turkey". Anyways ...
Canada is split into 308 electoral districts (ridings) that span the country. Each of these electoral districts select a representative, Member of Parliament (MP), to sit in the "house" (House of Commons). And the full 308 MPs make up parliament and the government, so a single party (there are 4 major parties - down from 5 in the last election) must obtain at least 155 seats to claim a majority government - which means that any laws that are presented by the governing body (party the won the most seats) can be passed. Keeping in mind that each MP is suppose to vote based on the opinions of their represented region - and not necessarily on the party (yea right!). If the governing party Proposals a law that gets voted down they are suppose to call an election ... which now brings us to the fun of minority governments.
This time the Liberals (think Democrates) only won 135 seats, the Conservatives (think Republican) took 99 seats, the NDP (think Communist) took 19, and the BQ (read Quebec separatists) took 54 - there was also one independent that took a riding in Surrey, BC. So ... it will take at least 3 parties to produce the required 155 seats, and really the Liberals and NDP are the closest in ideology (Liberals are left-center with the NDP way out left) and combined with the independent could form the balance of power -- either way expect another election within 2 years.
Now why? Well, this is pretty simple. - note: personal opinions ahead - The NDP have held an important place in Canadian history and even today ground us in some of the things we hold as representative of Canada. However, socialist governments do not work - they lead to a society of people that depend solely on the government. They don't reward people for working hard since everyone is equal, seniority always wins - hard work/better qualifications are discounted. When they have entered power their few positive changes are smudged with problems. They have sent both provincial and federal governments into huge fiscal problems by borrowing without concern for the future. They are strong union supporters which sends businesses packing. Their positives of 'medicare' and social assistance programs have trouble funding themselves. Thus ... they get only a few seats federally and typically in areas where current economics are struggling.
The Conservatives are too right for most Canadians. They tend to fill their ranks with more religious candidates and are less open to change. While they have several ideas that fit with my own (reform welfare to a temporary crutch rather than a paycheck, promote more privatization to give choice to the people, and reform the military taking us into the new century). However, they are also against things like gay marriages (just make civil unions legal and leave "marriage" to the churches) and tend not to be a 'liberal' as I would like.
So ... then the Liberals. They have won the last 3 elections, guess now 4, and hold more of the popular ideals. However, I personally have been frustrated with their lack of 'official' stance on several topics - always opting to sit on the fence. Combine that with the scandals that have emerged as the previous PM left office and you find that while they may have managed to balance the budget - they are wasting money while not providing new equipment to the military or funding health care ... Canadians don't like that.
Therefore, I did not know where my vote would have stood - and I think a lot of Canadians felt the same way. Those who are a little right saw the Liberals leaning left and voted Conservative ... those not happy with the health care commitments voted NDP ... Quebec, still want their voice heard as an independent society voted BQ ... and everyone else stuck with the Liberals hoping that a change in leadership recently will lead to changes down the road.
In the end, keep the pencils sharpened ...
Posted by csb at 10:05 AM