In Stephen Harper’s own words:
“The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister, one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists.
“This deal that the Leader of the Liberal Party has made with the separatists is a betrayal of the voters of this country, a betrayal of the best interests of our economy, a betrayal of the best interests of our country and we will fight it with every means that we have.”
I have found it endlessly amusing discussing this issue with friends in the last couple of days. Why? Because everyone here seems to believe that Canadians live in a “true democracy” as per the United States. It demonstrates just how lax our education system is about politics these days.
In the so-called “civics” class, no situation like the one we’re facing was discussed. The only thing that approaches it is our history lesson that shows us that once upon a time, a man named Byng fought a man named King and did something a little controversial. The semantics of this decision have clearly evaded the majority of my peers, however, which is unsurprising since our political education was confined to a semester’s worth of mediocre lessons on how the government forms.
Here’s a fact for you: Canadians live in a constitutional monarchy, not a Republic.
Most Canadians scoff at this part. Yeah, yeah, they say. But the Queen has no real power. Perhaps that’s true … she doesn’t do a whole lot in England, let alone here! … but when it comes to an issue like Confidence of the House, her role is still important in understanding the motives of the founders of our system.
The fact is, we didn’t vote for Stephen Harper. Despite the fact that politics have been run in Canada as if we were voting for the party leader, not the MP, our system is in fact built on the premise of electing a local representative. Period. We have no say in who forms government.
Now, traditionally speaking the rule is that the party with the most MPs gets to choose its leader and the leader chooses his government. That’s fair. But the point of that process is that the Prime Minister is working for the Queen, not the people!!!
Yes. The government that is chosen is an executive, which is made to implement those things which balance the will of the people with the will of the Queen. It is an incredibly risky position. One can easily lose favour with the actual power, the Queen, which way back when in British history could have cost a Prime Minister his political career and then some. But the flip side is that we have elected a parliament, whose job it is to keep the government in check.
If the government is working too closely with the Queen, and the parliament feels that the Prime Minister and his posse aren’t representing the people’s will any longer, they are allowed to vote against him in a confidence vote, at which point the government must step down. This way, the will of the people is heard at the governmental level.
Now, most of the time, the leader stepping down results in an election. But in the case that there is a reason not to — such as 3 elections in 7 years! — then the Queen/Governor General has the power to choose new executive powers, who then have to attempt to retain the Confidence of the House.
That’s where the coalition comes in. The Liberals and NDP have the potential to form a government. But they need the support of the Bloc to pass bills, or else they could drop the country into an election a month after forming their own government. Does this give the Bloc more power than they’ve ever had? Yes! But is it un-Canadian or un-Democratic?
No to the first. This is the system we have, so this is very Canadian. As for Democratic? Well, that’s up for you to decide.
Welcome to Canada, Stephen Harper. The only votes you received were the ones from your riding!