Brits do it, Aussies do it,
Even the Japanese do it,
Let’s do it, let’s … form a coalition!
We can fall in love, too. But the first order of business really ought to be getting rid of Stephen Harper and his odious so-called Conservatives.
And the best way to do that, as we (almost) discovered in 2008, is to form a coalition, or, failing that, some kind of co-operative modus operandi in Parliament between Liberals and New Democrats, including, if necessary, the Bloc Quebecois.
But wait, you say, Canadians hated the idea of a coalition. They were bludgeoned by Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Rage Machine into believing the proposed 2008 coalition, a profound expression of our Westminster-style democracy, was somehow undemocratic. What’s more, they were persuaded that proroguing a new Parliament that had done no business, which is about as undemocratic as you can get short of mass street arrests, was somehow an example of democracy!
Yeah, yeah. All true. But things are different today. You see, that was then and this is now!
This is because Canadian voters aren’t stupid — even though some of us may feel they are when, for their own good reasons, they don’t vote the way we wish they would.
Plus, a lot of things have happened since Canada’s moment of coalition interruptus in 2008.
People who may have been persuaded by the first blast of the Tory Rage Machine’s hysterical response to the coalition idea have now had a little time to think about how our Parliamentary democracy really works, and how they’ve observed it working elsewhere. Moreover, they’ve also had nearly two additional years to see Harper in action.
It’s been — and continues to be — an educational experience.
As a result, going into the next federal general election, Canadians have had their consciousness raised about Parliamentary coalitions.
Sure, lots of folks will still be opposed. And the Rage Machine will still scream at us that coalitions are an outrage. But Canadians have had a couple of years to ponder what really happened 2008, and what could have. It seems likely, in these circumstances alone, that many more voters than not will have moved from the anti-coalition camp to the group that is at least prepared to consider the idea.
What’s more, going into an election that could result in a coalition from the get-go is different from being surprised by the idea a few days after what you’d thought was a foregone conclusion.
Then there’s the matter of what other people are doing, some of them in the English-Speaking World, as we used to call it back in the day when a U.K. passport carried the right to vote in a Canadian election.
The Brits did it — and while you may not agree with the fiscal policies that resulted, the world didn’t end. Leastways, Her Majesty is still on the throne, notwithstanding the fact Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is governing in coalition with the Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg. There are five Lib Dems in his cabinet.
In a general election, Australia’s Labour Party and its opposition (called, interestingly, The Coalition) both fell short Saturday night of winning the 76 seats they needed to form a majority government. As a result, both sides are now wooing the Aussie House of Representatives’ four independents and one Green to form … a coalition.
If the Coalition forms the coalition, one supposes, it’ll be a coalition squared — but the important thing is that whatever happens in Australia, it will be another example of a coalition government working out just fine in a country with a Westminster-style Parliament, thanks very much, mate.
So Australia’s election result is just one more nail in the coffin of the peculiar Canadian notion that Parliamentary coalitions are “undemocratic.”
When the dust settles Down Under, Canadian voters will certainly take note that no one in either the U.K. or Australia is hyperventilating about how undemocratic their Parliamentary coalitions are.
Finally, there is the matter of our sourpuss prime minister’s own conduct. Canadians have had almost two more years to watch the guy in action — fighting tooth and nail against honest statistics that might run counter to his Tea Party ideology, rounding up free Canadian citizens in the streets of Toronto for the crime of wearing clothing that was too dark, and spending our taxes like a drunken sailor on “security,” including that notorious fake lake.
All these factors will make drumming up hysteria against the notion of a coalition considerably more difficult going into the next federal election.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.