December 10, 2008

What part of "majority rule" do you not get?


The arguments that I've been hearing against the proposed coalition are so depressingly ignorant and/or stupid, that I'm often times at a loss for words.

We elect individuals to be our representatives as Members of Parliament. Technically speaking, we DON'T elect governments or prime ministers or parties. Realisitically though, we do vote for the party we like, sometimes because of the party leader, sometimes in spite of the party leader, sometimes because we like their party platform, or their general political outlook, because we actually like our local candidate, or some combination of those reasons.

But technically speaking we elect individual Members of Parliament (MPs) who then form a government. Party affiliation is a quick way of establishing what group has the best chance of winning and keeping the confidence of the House, but parties have no constitutional status.

At present, the harpo Conservatives have a MINORITY government. This means that they have won the largest single bloc of seats in parliament, but it is a MINORITY of the seats in the House of Commons as a whole. This turns out to reflect the popularity of the harpo Conservatives' share of the vote in the last election in which they received 38% of the vote. A MAJORITY of voters (62%) voted for someone other than a Conservative candidate.

I'll isolate this factoid: SIXTY-TWO PERCENT of the voters wanted someone other than the Conservatives of harpo.

For the record, I was dismayed with the harpo Conservatives' receiving a second chance at governing, just as I'm always dismayed that so many Canadian voters are so deranged, lazy, etc. so as to make both the Conservatives and the Liberals viable political entities. But regardless of my personal feelings, the Conservatives had the largest bloc of seats and so were entitled to form the government.

But, to govern, harpo had to reach out to at least one other bloc of MPs in order to command a majority of the votes in the House of Commons. As we all know, Harper did not do this. Instead, he actively, deliberately sought to alienate all three of the major opposition parties, who JUSTIFIABLY responded to this immaturity by deciding to form a government themselves.

Legally speaking, they have a right to do this. And unless one wants to have a revolution, right now, on this issue, that's the end of the story. That's how things work in parliamentary systems. There's nothing more to be said on the matter.

More importantly, the NDP together with the Liberal and Bloc Quebecois MPs command 163 seats to the harpo Conservatives' 143 seats. Together they represent the votes of 54% of the voting electorate to the harpo Conservatives' 38%. This means that the representatives of a majority of those who voted last election were going to work together to steer the country through what looks like it will be a major economic crisis, as opposed to stupidly poking each other with sticks as is the wont of the harpo Conservatives.

How anyone can label a coalition representing the MAJORITY OF THE VOTERS forming the government as "undemocratic" is completely inexplicable.

It is bad enough that in this country a party can form a majority government with the support of a minority of the electorate under our electoral system, allowing them to rule as if this country was a one-party state, but it is absolutely frightening to think that so many people in this country are so ignorant and confused as to believe that even a minority of the seats in the House of Commons represents a "mandate" to govern unopposed for a fixed four-year term.

One of the saving graces of our parliamentary system is that we can occasionally have minority governments that force governing parties to be respectful of opposing political views. The way some Canadians would have it, we could dismiss with parliament altogether between elections, since holding a government's feet to the fire is apparently "treason." They would remove completely the ability of the opposition to challenge the government and we don't even have the separation of powers or the veto that limits the power of the legislature or the executive branches of a presidential system.

Canadians who oppose the coalition would prefer a dictatorship, and, insanely enough, they would call it "democracy."

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