Prologue: What happens when the people speak, but don't really say anything?
It leaves the powers that be in a very odd situation, as they tend to lose control. With such a gap in power, it appeared that a three-headed creature would seize the reigns, however one man had to appeal to a higher power to delay the onslaught and hold on.
After over two-years of a reasonably successful Minority Government, Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, began to make claims that Parliament had become dysfunctional, and an election was needed. On September 7, Stephen Harper went to Governor General Michelle Jean, and requested the dissolution of parliament. The Governor General complied, and we had an election on October 14.
To the surprise of nobody, the Conservatives won yet again, with another Minority Government. However, this time they had a larger seat total, garnering 143 seats. This compared to the 77 earned by the Liberals, 49 by the Bloc Quebecois, and 37 to the NDP (along with 2 Independents).
(Editorial Tangent: Now before we continue, we need to examine one of the central principals of a Parliamentary Democracy. The electorate (in theory) never vote for the Prime Minister, or even the political party. Technically you vote for the representative of your constituency, and it is up to those representatives (MPs) to chose the leader of their group. It just happens in practice that almost every politician is affiliated with a party, and each party has a leader who is understood to become Prime Minister in the event of a victory for their party.)
Before Parliament had even sat, the Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty delivered his fiscal update, which is essentially a mini-budget. This update was quickly, and vehemently panned by the three opposition parties. With three main points of contention: a lack of an economic stimulus plan to prevent recession, removal of civil servants right to strike, and the removal of subsidies for political parties. The last being the most crucial, as it would essentially bankrupt all three opposition parties at once.
(Editorial Tangent #2: While it is by no means required, it is expected that the political parties cooperate and compromise in the event of a Minority Government. After all, if the will of the populace is divided, then surely the actions of the government are expected to reflect this.)
This sent all three parties, and much of the population, into an incendiary rage. However, the only way to stop this was to table a Non-Confidence motion, and therefore trigger yet another election. Since this was something that nobody wanted, especially the Liberals who had delivered perhaps their poorest electoral showing in history.
As a result, something daring was proposed, a change in government without an election.
After a series of talks, it was announced that the Liberals and NDP would form a coalition, lasting until June 30, 2011. They would place the Liberal leader as Prime Minister, and create a cabinet of 23 other ministers, including 6 NDPs. However, with a quick amount of math you can notice that the 114 seats that the two parties have combined is not enough, so they needed a little bit more support. They then formed an agreement with the Bloc Quebecois to support the coalition until June 30, 2010.
This prompted Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to launch a full scale media blitz, calling the coalition ruthlessly undemocratic, even addressing the nation on prime time. There were two central arguments against the coalition: the widely unpopular Stephane Dion would be Prime Minster, and that it required the support of the Bloc Quebecois.
This sparked a fervour and debate across the country as rallies were held on both sides of the argument. Something that has not been seen in Canada since the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords over a decade and a half ago.
Stephen Harper made an unprecedented request to the Governor General to prorogue parliament. She complied, and delayed the Parliament to January 26th (From December 8th) in a wildly debated move. Normally prorogation is reserved for genuine national emergencies, such as war or natural disasters, and has never been used for political emergencies.
In a snap move, Stephane Dion then announced that he would step down as Liberal (and coalition) leader, and Michael Ignatieff was quickly selected as his replacement. Ignatieff has softened talks of a coalition, but by no means has stated that he will comply with the Conservatives.
However, we will have to wait until the 26th to find out what will happen, and that, my friends, is something that we will be discussing in our 2009 year in review.
Epilogue: While the government has not been seated, the Canadian economy continues to suffer, the 100th Canadian solider died in Afghanistan, one of the worst winters in memory started to take place, and nothing is being done to remedy either of those situations.
Somehow claims by the government of having the best interest of the people in mind are not being debated.
Until next time,
Achieved Year in Review Posts:
The Fall of the Prophet - January 6th
The Rise of the Ice Queen -January 7th
An Unlikely Fruition - January 7th
Attack of the Three-Headed Terror - January 9th
A Most Sincere Inquiry - January 10th
The Golden League - January 14th
The Fall from Grace - January 16th
The Eighth Layer of Injustice - January 16th
The Transmuter of Nations - January 22nd