Just six weeks ago, I was telling myself that I would move to Canada if McCain won the election. What a difference a little time can make, eh?
The United States has cleansed itself of a long, disastrous nightmare. Putting aside problems Canada doesn’t really have, the United States is poised to correct most of its internal problems, or at least have people that are up to the task. Almost as important, the United State did something no “liberal democracy” in the world has done: elected by a majority vote, a member of a race that was formerly slaves (he’s not descended from slaves, but that would have made no difference under Jim Crow or slavery), to the most powerful position in the world.
Canada has never had a Native prime minister, a black prime minister, an Asian prime minister, or a minority prime minister at all. Neither has the UK, Japan, Germany, France, etc.
But Canada is so far ahead of us on most social issues, it’s ridiculous. They have mostly successfully harmonized their immigrant populations. One large issue, of course, is sectionalism, which Canada has in a dose not seen in the US for a long, long time.
It’s now ripping the country apart.
Quebec separatism has caused its own party, the Bloc Quebecois, to form, taking a significant number of seats in Parliament. The result has been a 4-party parliament that has been challenged to form a majority. That, coupled with a serious, Clinton-sized scandal in the Liberal party has destabilized Canadian politics. Worse, Canada has a parliamentary system but has never had a coalition government. Instead, the plurality party is given control. This is an unstable arrangement, obviously.
So when a majority of MPs decided that they would vote no on a confidence measure next Monday, the country was thrown into a Constitutional crisis. The outcomes appeared to be the ascent of Canada’s first coalition government, or new elections just two months after the last ones.
Instead, the largely ceremonial Governor General, who technically is the Queen’s representative, chose the option, and PM Harper’s request of “proroguing” Parliament. This means Parliament is closed, the session is over, and all of the bills in it are dead.
And a new session will begin in January. This was done only to keep the current government in power, since no other reason was apparent.
So now, instead of an election, Canada will just have a campaign season where everyone runs around trying to argue their position.
The absurd argument of the Conservatives is that this was “undemocratic,” that it was a “coup” and that the LIberal Party “lied” by campaigning on not forming a coalition with the NDP.
Of course the Conservatives are making a profoundly American argument, with the idea that Harper is some kind of President and that Canadians elected him.
For a country I thought was more educated than us, I was shocked to see a poll today more or less buying that argument. The Conservative Party only got 37% of the vote in the recent election, and does not have a majority in Parliament. If the other parties are going to form a government, that’s how their system works.
It fascinates me that the idea that this is somehow cheating resonates at all with Canadians who have for so long identified themselves through their distinctions with Americans. What they are saying, in essence, is that the letter of their law is parliamentary, but the spirit is presidential.
Worse, the sock puppet Governor General, who (granted is a minority, but…) sounds like a fascinating woman, but has no real qualifications or mandate or experience in this kind of thing, has decided go along with Harper’s request.
As odd as this is to say, I think she should have asked for instructions from the Queen. Elizabeth II is qualified and experienced, much more so. Maybe not in Canadian politics, but anyway. I doubt the Queen would have deigned to further the agenda of any party or politician, because she sees herself as so above all that.
The Majority Coalition should have been put in power for at least a little while until it was reasonable to call elections again without devolving into a government of the month Italy like situation. And with those elections, it should have been made clear that a coalition would be formed if no party gained the majority, and that coalition could just as easily include Tories.
What’s interesting also is to see how the Conservative argument is against “separatists” (i.e. the Bloc) and it’s wrong to form a government with “separatists.” Well, stoking those fires is only going to make the problem worse, and is typical of shitty right-wing leaders who appeal to fear, and then use that to their advantage instead of solving it.
Come on Canada. If we can elect Barack Obama, you guys can figure out that there was nothing fishy going on with the Coalition because that’s your damn system! and there was nothing fishy going on until your Parliament was closed by a representative of the monarchy at the bidding of someone about to be kicked out of power. That’s fishy.