The Boogeyman named “Coalition”

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By: Robert Finn

So far,the campaigns conducted by the Conservative, NDP, and Liberal parties have been hobbled and wobbly. All three of the major parties, besides voicing a great, undying support for the middle classes and almost none for the lower, have pledged their refusal for any attempt at a coalition government.

The possibility of a minority government after the coming federal election could bring about either another election shortly or a string of elections, bringing about a string of weak governments.

Historically speaking, minority governments have always been ineffectual. They don’t last long, and get almost no meaningful legislation through parliament. Their need to appeal to the other parties for support shows their inability to govern correctly to the people.

In all the noise, it seems that the three major parties have forgotten the benefits that come with coalition governments, which are, in essence, when two of any of the major parties in parliament form a government by bridging their differences in order to govern the nation effectively.

For instance in Britain, previous to their recent election, the coalition of Cameron’s Conservatives and Clegg’s Liberal Democrats achieved spectacular successes in improving employment.

Most countries in Europe currently have coalition governments, including economic powerhouses France and Germany. According to a list of coalition governments found on wikipedia, there are currently over 90 countries governed by coalitions.

In fact Canada itself is largely the product of coalition governments. The Liberal- Conservatives under John A. Macdonald, and the followers of George Brown had the good sense to swallow their pride and party principles, and construct this great nation called Canada in 1867.

Canada’s eight prime minister, Robert Borden, led a coalition government with the Conservative and Liberal parties during the First World War till his retirement in 1920. This was the government that, in 1917, gave women the right to vote, and helped Canada gain international recognition both through its support of the Allied cause during the war and in its insistence for a separate seat during the treaty talks at Versailles.

The main problem with coalition governments is the need for the leader (prime minister) to keep the two parties from splitting apart. Canada’s ninth prime minister, Arthur Meighen, failed to keep the Unionist government together and, as a result, the Liberal Party became the dominant party in Canadian politics for much of the 20th Century.

Whereas Meighen was ineffectual, there are no reasons as of yet, to suppose that Trudeau, Mulcair, or Harper couldn’t be a leader to keep a coalition government running smoothly. It could be rhetoric in order to keep from shedding votes during the extended campaign however, all three parties refusal to pocket their differences and form a coalition government could lead to future problems for Canada. A hung parliament is nothing desirable, especially when there are three strong leaders running three competitive parties.

If only one party has enough seats in the House of Commons to form a minority government it is unstable.
The government must then rely on the goodwill of another party in order to pass legislation; and if they don’t, the government will fall, resulting in either a string of ineffectual, short-lived governments formed via different parties within the parliament itself or it will bring about another election, for which the good taxpayers have already paid too much.

The only thing that can help Canada is a decent dose of common sense, and an openness to working with each other to make Canada a better place, which is something seriously scarce in our leaders and their parties so far.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.