Of Separatists and Socialists (or, “It’s Very Simple, Stupid”)

Some thoughts on the political turmoil that current affects our country…

Let me refresh everyone’s memory as to precisely how a Westminster-style Parliamentary democracy, such as Canada’s, really works.

The people of Canada do NOT elect a government; they elect members of the House of Commons. The members of the House choose the government. By tradition, the legal Head of State (the Governor-General, in our case) asks the leader of the party with the most seats in the HoC to form a government; that is, to form a cabinet to try to pass laws.

If the majority of the members of the HoC lose confidence in the ability of the minority to govern, they have the right to express this through non-confidence votes or votes against bills that deal with government’s ability to spend money. This precise situation has now arisen in Canada’s 40th Parliament, and it appears that, unless our Prime Minister is able to suspend Parliament until next January, the majority of the HoC will enter a vote of no confidence in the current government next Monday, Dec 8.

In this case, the Prime Minister must ask the GG to dissolve Parliament and call an election (remember, the GG is our head of state, and the only one who can call an election). The GG has the legal option, which has been exercised many times in the past (see the dissolution of the 31st Parliament in 1979) to ask another party or parties to form a government, if he or she feels that this party or parties has the confidence of the majority of the HoC (for instance, if a majority of the legally elected members of parliament got together and forged a formal agreement…). In 1979, Governor-General Edward Schreyer asked the leader of the opposition, Pierre Trudeau, whether he could form a government after the collapse of the Joe Clark-led minority Parliament. Trudeau declined, and that is what caused the 1980 election.

The proposed Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition is absolutely in keeping with Parliamentary law and tradition. It has been forged by members of parliament who have been legally elected by the people of Canada. Of course, the GG is completely within her rights to call an election at the request of the Prime Minister. She will have to decide whether it is in Canada’s best interest to hold the 4th election in 4 years, and second election in 3 months, or if it is in Canada’s best interest to bring in a duly-elected government that has the pledged support of the majority of the HoC, and has proposed specific measures to rectify certain issues currently facing us.

I absolutely resent this call of “separatists” and “socialists” that has begun to dominate the Conservative rhetoric. That kind of thing belongs to the Sarah Palin’s of the world. You are talking about legally elected Members of Parliament. By advocating to deny a legally-elected MP the right, under the proper circumstances, to participate in government, you are, in a very real way, disenfranchising the citizens that voted for that MP. Gilles Duceppe is as much a member of the 40th Parliament as is Stephen Harper, and has as much right to participate in government, should the need arise. And it has arisen.

If you have a problem with Mr. Duceppe or any Bloc MP being in the HoC, then your issue is with the Quebeckers who voted for them in the first place. You may disagree with their stated goal of an independent Quebec (as do I), but their right to participate in government as legally elected members of parliament should, to any Canadian who places any value in our system of government, be absolute.

The Prime Minister has fouled up in the most epic and spectacular fashion and will, in all likelihood, be removed from power next Monday and be replaced by a tenuous coalition of Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloquistes. This is what happens when the majority rules.

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One Response to Of Separatists and Socialists (or, “It’s Very Simple, Stupid”)

  1. […] different opinions can be expressed by voting in parliamentary elections. As I pointed out in a previous post, our system of government is very simple; the people elect individual members of Parliament, and […]

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