Tag Archives: world

Coalitions, Liberals and Democracy


Over the last couple of weeks there has been a resurrection of the idea of a coalition government.  Should the Conservative Party win another minority in a future election, the losing parties would form a “coalition”, with the Liberal Party at the helm, and take over control of government.

Coalition governments are quite common in the other commonwealth countries.  In fact, the UK just recently formed a coalition government between the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats.  However, they are decidedly rare in Canadian politics.  So rare, that there has been only one federal coalition in the entire history of the country.

This coalition was Robert Borden’s Unionist government of 1917.  After winning a majority government, Borden’s Conservative Party formed a coalition with the Liberal’s in order to present a united political front in response to World War 1.  It quickly fell apart after the conclusion of the war and ended completely with Borden’s retirement in 1920.

There is one common factor that I would like to point out from my two examples above:  the winning party created the coalition!

When Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper, recently said “losers don’t get to form coalitions” he was correct.  In a coalition government, the elected party seeks an alliance with one or more of their rivals for the purpose of strengthening the democratically elected government.  This is more common with minority governments, as a coalition will usually give them a majority in parliament.  However, as we saw from Borden’s example, majority governments also employ coalitions if they feel it’s warranted.

In December 2008, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois attempted to form a “coalition” government with the Liberals at the helm.  They reasoned that while more Canadians had voted for Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, the majority of Canadians had not.  Therefore, in their minds, they were justified in taking over leadership of the country.

There are a few glaring problems with that idea though:

1)      None of the three parties involved had been elected to power.  They were not trying to strengthen the existing government. They were trying to unseat it.

2)      The Liberal Party leader, Stephane Dion, would have become the leader of this new government.  In the recently held election, Canadians had already declared that they did not want Mr Dion to lead the country.

3)      All three parties would have veto power in this coalition government.  In real world application, the Liberals and NDP would regularly agree on policy.  The Bloc Quebecois, however, is a separatist party and often disagrees with the other parties on key issues.  Even though Liberal leader, Mr Dion, would “officially” be the leader of the opposition, in reality, Bloc leader, Gilles Duceppe would have been calling the shots.  The Liberals and the NDP would have effectively handed leadership over to a party whose primary goal is to break-up the country.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind people of a legal term that isn’t often heard in modern society:

sedition [sɪˈdɪʃən]
n
1. speech or behaviour directed against the peace of a state
2. (Law) an offence that tends to undermine the authority of a state
3. (Law) an incitement to public disorder
4. Archaic revolt
[from Latin sēditiō discord, from sēd- apart + itiō a going, from īre to go]

Dion, Duceppe and NDP leader Jack Layton were lucky not to be charged with sedition after their ill-fated coup attempt in December 2008.  Will Layton and current Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, be so fortunate if they try the same trick again?

If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear over the last several years, it’s that the Liberal Party of Canada is more interested in power than democracy.  An inability to admit their mistakes, an unwillingness to listen to the people whom they represent, and an overwhelming arrogance in their own righteousness, has led to plummeting support for the Liberals.

The party is on the verge of imploding, and these ridiculous coalition attempts are nothing more than the desperate actions of desperate politicians.  Rather than accepting the consequences for years of bad leadership and even worse legislation, they are grasping at straws for any chance to reclaim power.

It’s time for the Liberal Party to start listening to their constituents.  Maybe then, they’ll finally realize that their problem isn’t ineffective leadership or the “evil” Stephen Harper.  Their problem is a complete inability to accept that the interests of Canadians are far more important than the interests of a few elitist politicians.

Edit

I wanted to make a quick update to clear up a point of confusion in my post. 

When I said that the winning party forms a coalition, I didn’t mean to state that only the winning party can form a coalition.  Legally, any of the parties are allowed to form one.  Tradition stands that the party with the most votes has first crack at forming a government.  If they are unable to do so, then any party can step up and try.

The issue in Canada is the Bloc Quebecois.  The Liberals and NDP combined still have fewer seats than the Conservatives.  It would be very difficult for them to form a minority government without the Bloc, and Canadians won’t allow them to form a coalition with the Bloc.

So while it is perfectly legal for the losers to form a coalition government, with the number of parties in our political system and the presence of the Bloc, it’s virtually impossible.

Say it ain’t so!


Elizabeth Mandelman says:

July 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Brad,
Add the number of domestic abuse deaths prevented and the number of perpetrators prohibited from acquiring firearms to the number of prevented suicides (or the use of firearms by people mentally unstable to own one), prevented accidents, and prevented criminal activities in this and other countries together, and it’s pretty easy to justify the Firearms Act (and, as has been pointed out again and again, it did not cost $2billion dollars).

You are correct in stating that you haven’t been using an emotional plea, and neither have I. There are fellows in other countries such as Uganda, Argentina, Nepal and Serbia, working on the same issue that I am. However, in those countries, there are no harmonized laws. Take a look at the statistics on domestic abuse and the use of firearms in those places, and maybe you’ll understand better why sometimes regulation is a good thing. I’m here looking at the Firearms Act as good practice, determing what elements are useful and what changes could be made to make the legislation even better. So by me being here, I am working to help other places in the world that you say are in need of people like me, with convictions.

Please tell me I’m wrong.  Please tell me that Ms Mandelman didn’t just try to compare domestic violence in Canada to domestic violence in 2nd & 3rd world countries.

The above comment was taken from Elizabeth Mandelman’s blog.  She’s working with IANSA on their Disarm Domestic Violence campaign.  The campaign was recently launched in several countries around the world:  Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, DR Congo, El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

I’m not going to raise the question of what Canada could possibly have in common with the other 27 countries on that list.  I am going to ask if Ms Mandelman actually believes the segment that I highlighted.  Because it sounds to me like she is implying (if not outright saying) that the primary reason that our firearms use and domestic violence rates are lower in Canada, is because of our laws.

So the extreme poverty in most of those countries has nothing to do with it?  The staggering lack of education is irrelevant?  Not just the history, but the culture of violence that is so prevalent in many of those countries isn’t important to the issue of domestic violence?  And the fact that the majority of the countries on that list are traditionally patriarchal societies in which women have few inherent rights – that doesn’t factor in at all?

You see, I’ve been to several of the countries on that list.  I’ve seen first hand how their societies work.  I can say with absolute 100% conviction that restricting access to firearms will do NOTHING to reduce domestic violence in any of them.  Sure, it may reduce firearm use, but the crime rates and levels of violence will remain the same.

The rate of domestic violence has been declining in Canada for decades.  Any claims that a law which was introduced in 1995 has had any measurable effect on the numbers are completely false and not supported by the available data.  In fact a weapon is used only 7% of the time in cases of domestic violence – that’s all types of weapons, not just firearms.

Spousal Homicide Rate

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/85-224-x2008000-eng.pdf

 

Firearm-Related Crime

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x2008002-eng.pdf

“The rates of overall fi rearm-related violent crime have been stable since 2003. Most violent offences, including homicide, attempted murder, robbery, forcible confinement and assault follow a similar pattern. Longer-term data, available for homicide and robbery, show that the rates of these two offences gradually declined throughout the past three decades with recent levels well below those reported in the 1970s. While the incidence of firearm-related violent crime is relatively low, those that are committed with a firearm most often involve a handgun.

The section I’ve highlighted in bold shows, once again, that firearm-related crime has been falling since the 1970’s.  So how could anyone claim that a piece of legislation introduced in 1995 has had anything whatsoever to do with it?

Handguns have been registered in Canada since 1934.  Yet, as the section I’ve underlined states, they’re still the most used type of firearm in violent crimes.  So what exactly has registration accomplished again?

There are many, many factors involved in the issue of domestic violence, especially in the third world.   Claiming that tighter gun laws reduce domestic violence is not only statistically false, it’s also a betrayal of the victims whom the makers of these laws are supposedly trying to protect.