A thread for Canadian politics, current events and history.

Here we go - based on the response from the thread about Why aren’t there political threads from outside the US. , I thought ‘why not start one about Canada?’ Canadians or non-Canadians welcome, ask things if you like or comment on recent news items. I claim no expertise other than I’m born here and have lived here all my life, but I can discuss what’s going on here as well as anyone at the Tim Horton’s…

One request - I’ve put this here in MPSIMS, and I’d prefer to keep it out of Great Debates and The Pit. I know we all have different opinions, backgrounds and party affiliations, but I’m sure we can keep it civil and interesting for non-residents.

I’ll start with an outlandish prediction - I have no idea what it’s going to take to provoke the next election, but my sense is that it will be Stephane Dion’s turn to head the next minority parliament. What says the SDMB?

I don’t think Dion has much chance. He comes across as a bit clueless, actually. I also don’t think Harper will survive this one either, though that may partly depend on how the general public reacts to the proposed Bill C-61 (which will almost certainly cost Jim Prentice his job in any event, and may take Josée Verner with him.)

Eh.

Yeah, I’ll be staying out of this one, because there’s no way I can discuss Steven Harper outside of the Pit.

Actually, there is one thing I’d like to discuss: is it a flaw in the Westminster system that the government can make any bill at all a matter of confidence? Frankly, I think that it’s ridiculous the way the Conservatives have been able to impose a number of laws despite the fact that the majority of MPs oppose it simply by threatening an election. With the exception of money bills, I think that the House, not the government, should determine what is and is not a matter of confidence.

Seconded.

Actually I agree with the first one as well.

I don’t think anything should be a matter of confidence except the budget. And possibly a declaration of war.

Well, I think at least the House should be able to make an explicit Motion of Non-Confidence at any time.

Well, sure, but that’s not tied to the success or failure of a bill.

So, long as I’m here, not to change the subject or anything, can any Ottawans tell me if Larry O’Brien has gone on trial yet?

That won’t happen until April 2009.

I can understand that sentiment, but to hand h

That’s a great point - the government has used that line in the sand once too often for my taste also, but part of the blame lies with the Liberals. If no one is going to call Stephen Harper’s bluff, the Conservatives are just going to keep rolling everything through. It also is having the unfortunate effect of convincing the electorate that the Liberals do not have the courage of their convictions, and that they’re merely waiting until the polls tell them they can win the election. I can’t see any government willing to limit it’s own powers to declare a vote a ‘Confidence’ vote, and with an effective opposition, it wouldn’t be necessary.

I used to like minority governments because the ruling party had to find consensus within the house, but this parliament has combined an aggressive government with a frankly wimpy opposition. I think Celine Dion has bigger balls than Stephane.

I share your reservations about Stephane Dion, and that’s after having rooted for him in the last leadership round. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done anything bad enough to justify replacing him before the next election and so, the Liberals are going to go with him. It’s interesting that the Conservatives have a strong leader who keeps everyone else in the party on a short leash, and the Liberals have, frankly, a weak leader with a strong team behind him.

Yeah, I wish I could believe the driving force behind Bill C-61 is the desire to see artists fairly compensated for their work, I really wish I could.

And who to replace Dion with? I still find Ignatieff too far right for my tastes, Rae would cost the Liberals Ontario. Who else could lead? (Paging Frank McKenna…)

Well, THAT was embarassing! I thought I had deleted all of that back-handed compliment that I had started, and I didn’t see it until the edit window was long past. I eventually decided that I didn’t have anything I wanted to hand to him after all.

Sorry 'bout that.

[hijack]My french is very, very rusty. Does your name mean “The Minister of Over There”?[/hijack]

[hijack]No, but you’re really close - The Minister of the Beyond, or Minister from Beyond, as there is no Ministry of the Beyond of which our government will admit. Over There is la-bas. For a parallel, L’hon. Peter MacKay is Le Ministre de la Défense nationale.[/hijack]

I don’t think C - 61 will amount to much. C - 10, on the other hand, with the interference of the Senate, might be. We won’t get into the debate about sponsorship of porn or violence (tax credits are good for the industry, FTR). It bothers me that these unelected drains on our tax dollars can derail legislation passed by the House, and don’t get me started on the Senate National Security and Defence committee with asshat Colin Kenny at the helm. If I wanted to learn about the current situation in Afghanistan, I wouldn’t take a junket to Dubai - I’d grab a flight from Trenton, sleep in the back with the people who are about to put their lives on the line, and maybe try to learn a thing or two.

If “Backpack Boy” wants an election, he’s been given many chances to force one. “King Stephen I” has been trying to goad him into it. One can’t abstain from votes just because they’re a confidence measure, and expect someone else to do the dirty work.

I honestly don’t know what I would vote anymore. The party of corruption, the party of the control freak, or the party of give all of my money away to the unions.

Very disillusioned.

As an aside, je m’excuse pour le Francais mauvais.

Questions from an American–why does Canada handle “minority government” different from other Parliamentary countries, and does anybody ever suggest changing this?

My understanding of most Parliamentary democracies is that when no single party has a majority, two or more parties will form a coalition and make a majority. The two parties will agree on some kind of common legislative program, and the smaller party will be given seats in the Cabinet. It doesn’t have to involve the largest party–the second and third largest parties can form a governing coalition if they find it easier to agree.

But in Canada, that doesn’t happen. The party with the most seats forms the government by itself, and blunders on from vote to vote until enough opposition parties feel like forcing an election.

Why is Canada different in this respect, and again, does anybody ever suggest changing?

We’ve only ever had one, the 13th parliament, in which the government was formed by the coalition unionist party . The situation was unique in our history - conscription during the First World War had divided the country along linguistic lines, and the leader of the Liberal party, Wilfred Laurier, himself a fracophone from Québec, could not support conscription. As a result, many Liberals who were in favour of conscription ran as Unionists rather than as Laurier Liberals.

In modern times, while there are occasions when parties find common ground, in general there is too much distance between parties for a coalition to be possible. In the Paul Martin government, there was an agreement between the NDP and Liberal party, but it was not a formal coalition, and the numerical difference was razor-thin. Witness the famous votes of the late Chuck Cadman and the infamous floor-crossing of Belinda Stronach. .

None of the federalist parties want to form a coalition with the Bloc Québecois because of the latter’s goal of aiding Québec separation, and so it’s down to the NDP and the Liberals to concur on a coalition platform. At present, there’s not much love lost between them, as it was the NDP who sided against the Liberals to bring down the Paul Martin government. In the current sitting of Parliament, the Conservatives hold 127 seats, the Liberals 96 and the NDP 30, so they would have to convince two of the four independents to come on board to even have a majority of one.

I was under the impression that l’au-delà meant ‘the otherworld’, as in the supernatural, not just ‘the beyond’.

There is at least one more choice… :slight_smile:

Ch’yeah right.

Harper’s been doing marvelously under a minority government.

Let’s hope he can do the same under a majority.

He’s a decent guy, and a majority under the Conservatives would be good.

Usually, au-delà is used in conjunction with a noun to answer the implied question ‘beyond what?’. In the poem ‘Vaisseaux, nous vous aurons aimés…’, Jean de la Ville de Mirmont says ‘La mer vous a rendu à votre destinée/au-delà du rivage où s’arrêtent nos pas.’ {‘The sea has taken you to your destination/beyond the shore where our steps cease.’} The series 'The Outer Limits was entitled ‘Au-delà du réel’ {‘Beyond Reality’} in it’s French version. So, yeah, when ‘beyond what?’ isn’t answered, the implication is supernatural, but ‘beyond’ is the more common sense of the word. For what it’s worth, it’s how La Bottine Souriante translated it for the liner notes for “Y’a ben du changement”, which is where I stole the name.

While I admire the Green Party’s environmental stance, I’m not at all in agreement with their economic policies; I found them way too far right wing - what do you think? Your’s is an opinion I respect, even when I (occasionally) disagree with you.