I have this unexplainable need to share my thoughts on what has transpired in Canadian Politics over the past week. A lot has happened and there’s just a few things I want to comment on.
First, lets catch people up to speed. Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative minority government revealed their 2009 budget. The oppositions parties (the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois) felt that it failed to address the economic conditions and possible recession facing our country. In Canada, the budget (among other money bills), is always grounds for a non-confidence vote. In the eyes of the opposition, the Conservative budget drastically failed to address the recession and moved forward on a non-confidence motion. If a vote of non-confidence succeeds, then the government is “overthrown” and typically, Canadians go back to the polls the vote in a new parliament. Just a few months ago, however, Canadians went to the polls. Instead, the opposition formed a proposal for a coalition government between the Liberals and the NDP with support from the Bloc.
This has really gotten the general public involved. It’s been the topic of conversation all over the place: be it online forums, talk radio, the news, or the water cooler. Coming off the lowest voter turnout in an election since voting was invented, I’m enthused to see people getting involved and passionate about politics in this country.
I am, however, deeply disappointed in the general public. It’s great to see people involved, but the amount of ignorance and completely misguided opinions about how democracy works in this country disgusts me. We have a parliamentary democracy which, in as few words as possible, means that we elect a parliament, a body of representatives from across the country that represent us in Ottawa. This body has rules and structure on how to function, but ultimately, we do not choose who does what. Nobody went to the polls during the last election and saw an option for Prime Minister on the ballot. Within our system, which is functional and working in many countries through the world, we place an inherent trust in the representatives we elect to act with our best interests in mind.
There are people who have openly expressed that we voted for the Prime Minister and adamantly insist that we did if told otherwise. Nobody in Canada voted on who the Prime Minister would be. You voted for whatever candidate was running in your area, and had no say in what his position would be.
Many people are expressing that they feel this is a coup of sorts; that the opposition parties are just making a power grab and ignoring the results of the last election. While your opinion about it being a power-grab may or may not be valid, the idea that they’re ignoring the result of the last election is ridiculous. The Conservatives won roughly 30% of the popular vote. Them being in power represents the best interests of about a third of Canadians. This is important to understand: a majority of Canadians did not vote for the Conservatives. An agreement to a coalition results in a ruling power that represents (with some accommodation) the interests of a far larger proportion of the people in this country. It may or may not be a power-grab, but it is indisputable that by the numbers, a coalition government would represent a far larger number of Canadians than a Conservative minority.
Today the Governor General agreed to Stephen Harper’s request to suspend parliament until late January. This gives more time for the Conservatives to draft up a new budget, and to run a barrage of smear attacks against the other parties while I try to get into the Christmas spirit.
I love seeing people involved and passionate about politics, I’m just saddened by the realization that very few people in this country seem to know how they even work here. So people, think back to Junior High, maybe do a quick review, and make sure that you understand even the most basic fundamentals of how politics work in this country before you insist your opinion is right.