A new poll showed that 58 per cent of Canadians think it’s appropriate for parties to form a coalition to govern if no party gets a majority of seats. So 42 per cent of people think a coalition government is inappropriate? Asking your girlfriend’s mother how much she weighs is inappropriate. Cooperation between political parties in a parliamentary democracy is not inappropriate.
A political party is like any party. You go because there’s going to be some people there you have things in common with, but at some point you’ll get stuck in a boring conversation about someone’s trip to India and one of your beers will get stolen.
Every party is flawed. No political party is going to perfectly represent everything you believe in all the time. A coalition government makes it more likely most people will get most of what they want most of the time. And that’s the best you can hope for with democracy. That’s top score.
Coalitions may take more negotiation and work, but governing a country of 35 million people that’s ten million square kilometres shouldn’t be simple. One-party majority governments can make laws quickly and efficiently, but so can dictatorships. Speed and efficiency are really important for emergency rooms and Chipotles, less so for governments.
Related to the fear of coalitions is a fear of splitting the vote. Some of us are told that we shouldn’t vote for the party we most want because then we might get the party we least want. But we don’t have to make that bargain. The parties are the ones who should be making the bargains.
We have lots of choices in Canada. We can vote for red, orange, green, dark blue or separatist blue, and there’s no reason to be scared of some purple, yellow or gross, vomity orange.
Outside of parliament, citizens cooperate all the time. We share offices, classrooms and friendships with people who don’t share our exact political beliefs. So if political parties want to truly represent us, they should have to cooperate too.
This video originally appeared in The Toronto Star.