Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Only 27 days until Canada’s Federal Election (May 2nd)

     Our American friends are fascinated by Canada’s ability to find a reason (a vote holding the government in contempt of our Parliament), pass a motion of non-confidence to defeat the government, hold a federal election and count the votes all in less than 5 weeks. That’s less time than it took to count the ballot’s for one of Bush’s elections. But to be fair, the USA has a lot more voters than we do.

     The Canadian elections need to be fast because there is sometimes a short time between them. For example, shortest terms for being Prime Minister are:
        - Sir Charles Tupper shortest at 69 days
        - John Turner for 79 days
        - Kim Campbell (first and only female) for 140 days
        - Joe Clark for 273 days

We thought that problem was solved in 2006 with the passing a law requiring  fixed election dates - one every 4 years (except by a vote of non-confidence). Since this law was passed this will be the 3rd election and the only one resulting from a vote of non-confidence (the other two by unprovoked prorogation). Go figure.

    I found it interesting in 1996 when the Official Opposition in the Parliament was the Parti Québécois which was dedicated to the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada (known currently as the “ROC”). As I recall those days they made an effective opposition party (although a philosophically bizarre political situation).
    In the current election campaign the Bloc Québécois (dedicated to promoting Quebec over the ROC) are being demonized as being unfit to be a part of the government because of their policies (or for only existing in Quebec) and hence should not be part of the upcoming political debate. The Green Party is not allowed to be part of the National debate (presumably because they do not have a sitting MP).

    If people or organizations with power can decide who should or should not be heard (based on non existent criteria by ab arbitrary consortium) , that would be a major blow to democracy in Canada. Surely Canadians should be able to hear all 5 official parties in a televised discussion, even if it isn’t really a debate.

     OK,  I agree 5 party leaders in a debate is unwieldy and confusing to watch – let alone to hear. But where is it written that only one debate is allowed? Maybe if our “system” were less strictly controlled by arbitrary rules then more people might get involved in the electoral process. Sport events manage to handle a large number of teams in one-on-one competitions. It could easily be done with the 5 official federal parties. Why not?

     FYI, Canada has 19 registered political parties:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

Bloc Québécois
Canadian Action Party
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Communist Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
First Peoples National Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
Libertarian Party of Canada
Marijuana Party
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
New Democratic Party
People's Political Power Party of Canada
Pirate Party of Canada
Progressive Canadian Party
Rhinoceros Party
United Party of Canada
Western Block Party

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