Sunday, November 30, 2008

Change for Canada?

It’s looking like the current Canadian government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party (pictured) may be about to fall. All three of Canada’s opposition parties—the New Democrats, Liberals and Bloc Québécois—have wanted a stimulus package to help Canada's economy. Now, two opposition parties (the Liberals and the NDP) are planning on asking Canada’s Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, for permission to form a new government.

The Liberals’ motion reads: "In light of the government's failure to recognize the seriousness of Canada's economic situation and its failure in particular to present any credible plan to stimulate the Canadian economy … this House has lost confidence in this government and is of the opinion that a viable alternative government can be formed."

While the economic situation is their main criticism of Harper’s government, apparently the spark was the Conservatives’ plan to cut public subsidies for political parties. Currently, parties get C$1.95 (about NZ$2.87, US$1.57) per vote for every vote they receive in the elections. This money is used for various running costs and is vital to smaller parties, though largely unneeded by the Conservatives, who have no trouble raising money.

Harper is leading a minority government, which continues only as long as the other parties don’t form a coalition, as they’re now proposing to do. Harper called an election, which was held last month, in an attempt to get a majority government for the Conservatives, but failed to do so.

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean is reportedly cutting short a trip to Europe to return home to Canada. Harper has set the next opposition day for December 8, at which time the no confidence motion will likely be voted on. In a little over a week, we should know if Harper can hold onto power.

Part of what’s interesting to me in all this is that after living in a Commonwealth country, I understand what’s going on in Canada. I hope that some of my fellow Americans now do, too.

A tip o’ the hat to my Canadian e-friend Mark for pointing me to the story.


Roger Owen Green said...

Too bad the Repubs didn't FALL earlier.

d said...

My Canadian friend Ray addressed this subject in his blog today: http://www.deonandan.com/

Arthur Schenck said...

I agree, Roger. The strength of a parliamentary system is that the head of government is easily replaced. Which means that if the US had such a system, Bush would have been out when the Democrats won control of the US House in 2006, or his own party may have replaced him before that.

Thanks for the link, D; it was a very interesting post!