Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How We Do It in Canada

Looking at the fighting going on in the US and in Iran (passionate people on both sides fighting to be heard), Canada’s politics must seem awfully sleepy by comparison, but when you think about it -- that’s often a good thing.

Currently we have a “little bit of a crisis” -- a phrase I have always found funny -- on our hands. The Conservative party, who currently run the government, aren’t as popular as they once were. The Liberal Party have gotten themselves a new leader who, though untested, has managed not to annoy people (a real key to winning votes here in Canada). Under the rules up here, if the present government cannot survive a Vote of Confidence, they have to dissolve their administration and new elections are called. Canadians have voted in national elections three times in the past six years and have no desire to do it again anytime soon, so oddly enough it is in both the Conservatives’ and Liberals’ interest not to have an election right now.

So the leaders of the two parties meet to negotiate on upcoming pieces of significant legislation (that usually means budgetary matters) and work out a compromise before it comes to vote in Parliament. The other parties (we have more than two, but these are the two dominant ones) can do what they like, but if the two majors are in agreement, it’s likely that the bill will pass and the present government will stay in power for a while longer.

Harper, Ignatieff reach deal to study EI reform: report

This part seems to me to be a good idea for America to adopt; perhaps a small panel of (let’s say) three Republicans, three Democrats and three representatives from the White House (probably including the President) meet and close the doors and don’t come out till they have an agreement, rather like a jury, on a really major piece of legislation (like health care reform). Each side should try in good faith to explain and defend their views, but should be willing to hear the other side’s plan without prejudgement. Implicit in the resulting agreement (if one can be reached) should be the support of the parties involved. There would be some “conscientious objectors” and/or “craven grandstanders” but the rank-and-file would support the agreement in the best interests of the country.

I have to wonder if the US has enough politicians who can put country ahead of party to do something like that.


Paige said...

Concise take on our political scene. Canadians, like many other countries, tend to have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to politics. When one party does something we don't like, Canadians tend to punish the party by voting in a new one. Shortsighted, yes, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The problem here is that we don't get to vote for our leader. The leader of whichever party wins becomes the Prime the voter is stuck between a decision on do I vote for the guy in my riding because I like him regardless of his party, or do I vote for the party...even though I can't stand the person who I am voting for to get the party elected...logic...or emotion?

No one here wants another election because the last one, which was a grab for more power, cost the taxpayers a great deal, and resulted in almost the exact same situation as we were in before it. No movement at all. What followed was a massive uproar as the three other main parties looked at forming a coalition government and everyone went wild (as much as Canadians ever do). A coalition government actually would have been a good thing and would have been far more representative of the population as a whole....but it's "different" and therefore "bad" to most people.

And so it goes... ;)

(I enjoy your postings, it's interesting to view my home through a newcomers eyes)

Anonymous said...

This seems like the appropriate place to tag this...

Happy Canada Day!! eh?!

or... as us old fogeys like to still (occasionally) call it....

Happy Dominion Day!!

(from salt spring - where until july 12 you can see some of the best photography this side of toronto)