This is going to be a political rant, so feel free to look away now. As in previous rants, I'm not going to fact check - that ruins a good rant - so what you're getting is my perception of what is going on.
The democratically elected head of Canada is the Prime Minister. The official head of state of Canada is the Queen's representative, the Governor General. She (officially) appoints the Prime Minister and, alternatively, dissolves parliament, which triggers an election. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party who received the most seats in the last election. Right now, that is Stephen Harper, who is the leader of the Conservative party.
Since there are many political parties (and it is possible to run as an independant), it is possible that there are more members of parliament in the official opposition and the other opposition parties than there are in the governing party. That's where we are right now - the Conservatives are a minority government.
This is important, because in Canada it is rare for an MP to vote against his or her party's official stand.
In a minority government, if the government loses a vote on an issue considered to be a confidence issue, they can no longer govern. (Budgets are always confidence votes.)
Canada's last federal election was October 14. That was just over 6 weeks ago. Harper was the leader of a minority government before the election, and after the election became the leader of a stronger (but still minority) government.
The other players:
Stephane Dion - leader of the liberal party (i.e. the official opposition) - he was the leader when they lost a lot of seats in the last election, and is has resigned as leader effective some time next year
Gilles Duceppe - leader of the Bloc Quebecois, which is a political party in Quebec dedicated to getting Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada
Jack Layton - leader of the New Democratic party
The political parties get funding based on the percentage of the popular vote they got in the last election.
Basically, here's what happened.
Harper saw an opportunity, and in the name of saving money, proposed to cut the funding to political parties. This would be devastating to the other parties - in particular the liberals.
The other leaders got upset, and started talking about causing Harper to lose a confidence vote. They then plan to go to the Governor General and ask her to let them rule in a coalition.
Did I mention that it has been 6 weeks since the last election?
And that her choices (after the confidence vote) would be to either let them rule in a coalition or call another election?
Anyway, this is a long and rambling way of saying that today I watched the Prime Minister make a televised speech instead of watching the Simpsons.
The political stuff was probably funnier, because:
- Harper's speech was shorter than expected (and didn't contain the concessions some were expecting),
- The network was waiting for a tape from Dion (which never arrived),
- Layton wanted to make a speech, and was complaining that he didn't get the same amount of air time as Harper and Dion
So to sum up:
- the new government is in trouble (and the Conservatives are running around in a panic),
- the leader of the coalition couldn't get his act together enough to provide the networks with a video tape for a national broadcast,
- the coalition contains a political party who's reason for existing is to break up the country, and
- the members of the coalition are already bickering
I think we should send them all to their rooms until they can come out and play nice.
Seriously, this is pathetic.
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