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Canadian Politics: A Coalition Government and its Strengths for Minority Government

Much like the 2006 and 2008 elections, Canadians have spoken loud and clear this past October 2019 with the election of a minority Liberal Government.  It is not that we are indecisive, it is not that we are confused, or simply do not care about the future of the country.  It is simply that we want a political system that is accountable, that reaches every Canadian – an opportunity for real, genuine, and healthy governing for the country.

When it comes to politics in general, I admit I am the furthest from an expert as anyone can be. To be brutally honest, within the first weeks of University I ran away from my declared “Poli-sci” major with my tail between my legs and switched to something far less philosophical and much more interesting, the environment.  Nonetheless, sitting from the sidelines as a person in sound body and mind; well sort of, it is questionable about the sound body (Crohn’s disease, diabetes); you begin to wonder “to what degree our Canadian political representatives have a clue?”  This was a post I originally wrote in 2009 after the Harper Government won its second minority government in a four year period – however, holds very much as true today, with a bit of an update.

Between 2000 and 2011, Canadians have visited the polls on five occasions – three of which were 2004, 2006 and 2008, and twice since then. In a political system that structures federal elections every four years, having six visits to the polls over the same time period seems dumbfounded.  What is characteristically more interesting was the repeat result of the 2006 and 2008 elections, a minority, Conservative, government.  This does not speak specifically to the governing party, as the same could be said to be true for any party, but does question the need and purpose of going to the polls.  This is even more profound as in a perpetual sphere of a looming no-confidence vote, and yet a fourth federal election. 

What is a Minority Government?

Wikipedia defines a Minority Government as an “a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when the governing political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament”.  Wikipedia continues to define a minority government as less stable and less arrogant as it (often) requires a “compromise between the different parties to ensure the passage of legislation“.  I would argue that the later may be the most, yet comical descriptor of the current breed of Canadian Politician, but decidedly the single most critical aspect of a minority government.  More importantly, I believe that critically, this is where, as Canadians, we are failing time and time again. 

Is it naive to think that the goal of Canadian politics, and politician as a whole, can simply be more than a battle of whose belt buckle is the largest, is it naive to think that as “professionals”, our political representatives actually want to play a critical part in helping the country prosper and not simply participants in an adult game of king of the castle at the measly price of about $450 million dollars around?

Varying Political Opinions, one goal

Much like the 2006 and 2008 elections, Canadians have spoken loud and clear this past October with the election of a minority Liberal Government.  It is not that we are indecisive, it is not that we are confused, or simply do not care about the future of the country.  It is simply that we want a political system that is accountable, that reaches every Canadian.  Unfortunately, Ottawa appears too blinded in its own fight to become “the King” to realize the strength in our representation in the house.  With our current 338 member caucus made up between the four primary parties (Le Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, and New Democratic Pary of Canada), the Green Party and one independent you will always have fundamentally different opinions on how to govern the Country. 

Source: https://thecanadianpress-a.akamaihd.net/graphics/2019/federal-election/election-night/english/map/index.html

Similarly, even within a party, governing or not, there are fundamentally differing opinions on how to govern north vs. south, east coast vs. west, urban vs. rural.  It is ignorant to presume that one governing model fits all Canadians, and the election of a minority government is a true indication of such, and in turns its strength.  A minority government does not represent a weak government, but an opportunity for a united Canada where a balanced agenda can be achieved, a government that offers opportunity for all voices to be heard, and all parties working together for change, and most importantly it is a government where the politicians will be held accountable to the people and to themselves.

An Opportunity for Political Change in Canadian Politics

The sign of a true leader is not how well the lemmings follow in perfect formation, “Yes Men”, but how well they manage and communicate change.  A minority government provides an opportunity for sanctioned ‘negative thinking” or “devils advocacy”.  Carol Kinsey Goman notes in her article, “The Power of Negative Thinking“, that organizations should build constructive conflict into your decision-making processes by developing organizations with a diversity of thinking styles, skill levels, and backgrounds. Kinsey-Goman continues by acknowledging that “the most successful organizations will be those who can harness the power of creative collaboration without falling victim to “group think.” Perfecting this delicate balancing act is going to take leaders who understand how to foster constructive conflict”.

Fostering a New Future for Canada Politics

On January 20, 2009, the Bank of Canada announced that we, much like the rest of the world, are in a recession.  Retirement portfolios have declined sharply, and business and citizens are concerned over their finical well being, and in turn that of the Countries.  The 2008 minority Government steered the country through this economic hiccup.  Its time to continue that time of cooperation among all parties, now is the time positive change.   The answer is not with who’s flag is flying high at 24 Sussex Drive, but how well that leader can build upon the ideas and vision, of all parties, and in turn the country.

Note: Originally published, January 21, 2009. Republished, October 26, 2019

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Mark is a foodie in training, photographer, Starbucks addict, runner, cyclist, and single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and RPP can be an interesting mix.


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