Canada's Conservative government faces challenge to its control

The Canadian political scene is usually pretty placid. Canadians are famously more likely to take to the streets after a hockey game than a disputed election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has held power since February 2006 not only on the strength of his political cunning but also because no other political party is strong enough to mount a serious challenge to the Tories. Harper took a calculated gamble on calling an election this past October less than three years after the last election. While he won more seats, he still did not achieve a majority government.

But suddenly, only six weeks after that election, the other political leaders -- who were roundly trounced in the October vote -- have declared that Harper and the Tories are intolerable. They have formed a coalition to vote the Tories down and take power. This maneuver is legal in parliamentary tradition, and I wrote about this possibility two years ago in American Thinker.

Therefore, we could shortly have a new government headed up by the Liberal Party, who won only 26% of the vote in the last election, and a new Prime Minister, Stéphane Dion, unpopular with his own party, who just announced he was stepping down as leader of his party after the Liberals disastrous showing in the polls. The Liberals are teaming up with the left-leaning New Democratic Party, but this still doesn't give them enough seats to overwhelm the Tories.

To gain power, they must form a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois, a party for which there is no American equivalent, although the old Dixicrat party 
is the closest parallel. While other federal political parties campaign from coast to coast, the Bloc Quebecois operates only in Quebec and its avowed purpose is to represent the interests of the only majority French-speaking province in Canada.

It doesn't take political genius to understand that the Bloc Quebecois can only be persuaded to join a coalition with promises of what's-in-it-for-Quebec. A possible answer to that question lies in the fact that the coalition leaders declare they must urgently, swiftly, dramatically, start spending a lot more money, to emulate their neighbors to the south in a fiscal stimulus package to stave off economic disaster.

As columnist Andrew Coyne sarcastically notes:

How could the government be so blind? Can it not see that unemployment has soared to 6.2%? Why, that's four-tenths of a percentage point above its recent, thirty-year low. And what about Canadians' fears of losing their home, what with the proportion of mortgages more than 90 days in arrears standing at an all-time record 0.2%? Okay, it's an all-time record low, but still. When will it realize there's a Depression on?

[W]hat Canadians demand is "stimulus." And stimulus, we all know, in a sophisticated, 21st century economy, can be delivered in only one way: by hiring large numbers of unionized men to dig holes in the ground (see "infrastructure.") Loosening monetary policy doesn't count. Tax cuts don't count. It only counts as "stimulus" if the government spends it.

The new coalition will be composed of center-left to socialist politicians, and in a country where Obama was favoured over McCain by a four-to-one margin, arguably the new coalition is more in tune with the political views of the average Canadian.

To assume power, the Lib-NDP-BQ coalition must be recognized by the titular head of our government, the Queen's representative in Canada, the Governor-General.

Previous governors-general have been retired captains of industry or superannuated politicians. Picture a white-haired old duffer festooned in gold braid and wearing a funny hat. They are not elected but are appointed. Our current Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, is a young Haitian-born beauty who was appointed by a previous Liberal Prime Minister and has been accused of being sympathetic to the cause of Quebec separatism.

Relations between the G-G and Prime Minister Harper are said to be cool, if not frosty. Her history has a journalist/presenter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation marks her as left-leaning in her sympathies and she delivered his keynote policy statement, known as the Speech from the Throne, with a notable lack of enthusiasm.


The Governor-General can either call for new elections, barely two months after the last one, or she can recognize the new coalition.

The dramatic vote to bring down the Tories may come as early as this Monday.
The Canadian political scene is usually pretty placid. Canadians are famously more likely to take to the streets after a hockey game than a disputed election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has held power since February 2006 not only on the strength of his political cunning but also because no other political party is strong enough to mount a serious challenge to the Tories. Harper took a calculated gamble on calling an election this past October less than three years after the last election. While he won more seats, he still did not achieve a majority government.

But suddenly, only six weeks after that election, the other political leaders -- who were roundly trounced in the October vote -- have declared that Harper and the Tories are intolerable. They have formed a coalition to vote the Tories down and take power. This maneuver is legal in parliamentary tradition, and I wrote about this possibility two years ago in American Thinker.

Therefore, we could shortly have a new government headed up by the Liberal Party, who won only 26% of the vote in the last election, and a new Prime Minister, Stéphane Dion, unpopular with his own party, who just announced he was stepping down as leader of his party after the Liberals disastrous showing in the polls. The Liberals are teaming up with the left-leaning New Democratic Party, but this still doesn't give them enough seats to overwhelm the Tories.

To gain power, they must form a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois, a party for which there is no American equivalent, although the old Dixicrat party 
is the closest parallel. While other federal political parties campaign from coast to coast, the Bloc Quebecois operates only in Quebec and its avowed purpose is to represent the interests of the only majority French-speaking province in Canada.

It doesn't take political genius to understand that the Bloc Quebecois can only be persuaded to join a coalition with promises of what's-in-it-for-Quebec. A possible answer to that question lies in the fact that the coalition leaders declare they must urgently, swiftly, dramatically, start spending a lot more money, to emulate their neighbors to the south in a fiscal stimulus package to stave off economic disaster.

As columnist Andrew Coyne sarcastically notes:

How could the government be so blind? Can it not see that unemployment has soared to 6.2%? Why, that's four-tenths of a percentage point above its recent, thirty-year low. And what about Canadians' fears of losing their home, what with the proportion of mortgages more than 90 days in arrears standing at an all-time record 0.2%? Okay, it's an all-time record low, but still. When will it realize there's a Depression on?

[W]hat Canadians demand is "stimulus." And stimulus, we all know, in a sophisticated, 21st century economy, can be delivered in only one way: by hiring large numbers of unionized men to dig holes in the ground (see "infrastructure.") Loosening monetary policy doesn't count. Tax cuts don't count. It only counts as "stimulus" if the government spends it.

The new coalition will be composed of center-left to socialist politicians, and in a country where Obama was favoured over McCain by a four-to-one margin, arguably the new coalition is more in tune with the political views of the average Canadian.

To assume power, the Lib-NDP-BQ coalition must be recognized by the titular head of our government, the Queen's representative in Canada, the Governor-General.

Previous governors-general have been retired captains of industry or superannuated politicians. Picture a white-haired old duffer festooned in gold braid and wearing a funny hat. They are not elected but are appointed. Our current Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, is a young Haitian-born beauty who was appointed by a previous Liberal Prime Minister and has been accused of being sympathetic to the cause of Quebec separatism.

Relations between the G-G and Prime Minister Harper are said to be cool, if not frosty. Her history has a journalist/presenter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation marks her as left-leaning in her sympathies and she delivered his keynote policy statement, known as the Speech from the Throne, with a notable lack of enthusiasm.


The Governor-General can either call for new elections, barely two months after the last one, or she can recognize the new coalition.

The dramatic vote to bring down the Tories may come as early as this Monday.