North of the US border Canadian politics is locked in a huge death struggle that began at the end of the 2004 federal election, continued now through two more elections and little real progress. Everyone says, wouldn’t it be great to have a minority government because they have to listen to “us” more.
So now we are on our third minority government (1 Liberal, 2 Conservative) and it seems even more bitter and partisan then ever.
A little background here:
In 2003 Paul Martin, our erstwhile Finance Minister has been trying for years to become the big chief in his own party. Eventually he thrusts a figurative dagger into the Prime Minister, this forces Jean Chretien to retire from politics. Martin is crowned leader. Seeing this Stephen Harper reunites diverse sides of the conservative spectrum to recreate the Conservative Party of Canada.
Round 1 – Harper is almost crowned winner after early gaffes by the Liberals. He fails as Martin goes on the attack claiming Harper is in effect the Anti-Christ pro-American. Result. Liberals win a minority.
Round 2 – In 2005 it is revealed that the Liberal government had created a fund to help advertise Canada to Quebec, in the hopes of creating more national unity. This fund is used by some to launder funds to the Liberal Party and kick backs for Liberal backers. This implodes in May.
The Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois (Quebec Seperatists) and New Democrats (Socialists/Progressives) try to topple the government. The Liberals sign an agreement with the NDP to avoid an election. Meanwhile pressure is put on various MPs to cross the floor (join either the Liberals or Conservatives) and either defeat the government or save it.
In the last hours Martin convinces a former leadership candidate in the Conservative party and media darling Belinda Stronach to cross the floor. The millionare heiress helps to save the government. The Conservatives lost round 2.
Round 3 – In November 2005 the NDP withdraws its support for the government, the Liberals are forced to call an election for January. Various Liberal gaffes, and very specific Conservative successes create some winning conditions. The Conservatives win an even smaller minority government.
Round 4 – the opposition spend two years saying they want an election, avoid it like the plague for the most part. Liberals even go so far as to just avoid showing up in enough numbers to bring down the government. Funding changes to the Election Act had crippled the Liberals who had to rely on big donations from a few sources for financial success. The Law now states that no company, union or interest group can give money to political parties, meanwhile each individual is capped at $1,000 for donations.
The Conservatives have been able to live with this, the legislation actually favours them because of their grassroots funding levels. However, the Conservatives felt they had the winning conditions so they contrived a way to force an election.
The result was a much larger, but still minority government.
Round…who knows. Now the NDP-Liberals are talking coalition to overturn the Conservatives. They need the Bloc Quebecois to mostly go along in order to pull it off. It sounds unworkable. But hey, why not lets continue to play chicken while the world crumbles. It makes great sense. Then again when has Canada ever made sense, considering the SEPARATISTS would have control of the government in effect.