Monday, May 2, 2011

Canada's Federal Election

The 5 week election is now over. For Americans that must be a real puzzle. Their presidential elections are now two year marathons. I'm pretty sure they can't imagine electing all of Congress and a president with just a 5 week campaign. But that's how we do it in Canada. Quick and dirty. Oh... maybe not that dirty. The politics in Canada is pretty clean. No mud slinging like in the US even though "attack ads" are on the rise as parties here emulate more and more of what they see south of the border.

I'm depressed that the right wing Conservatives have won a clear majority and a mandate to rule unhindered for the next four years. The Conservatives won 37.65% of the votes but get 167 out of the 308 seats. So the 62.35% that voted for something else will be over-ruled by the Conservative "majority". Worse, since only something less than 62% of the electorate bother to vote, the "majority government" was in fact elected by only roughly 20% of the electorate! That isn't much of a "mandate" but under the Canadian parliamentary system, the Conservatives have a mandate and pretty well can do whatever they want.

I’m frustrated that the left & centre parties didn’t unite to fight the right wing Conservatives. Prior to the election there was lots of talk of "coalitions" which in a minority government which we've had for several elections, these coalitions can rule by pushing the major party aside. But a majority party has over half the seats. It is more than just a "major" party. It can rule with very little power to stop in by all the other parties.

I simply can’t understand why anybody in this latest election would have voted “Green”. That is asking for a Conservative MP. In this election a sizeable number of people sensibly gave up on the Liberals (and the Bloc Québécois). This may represent a shift in Canadian elections to a 2 party system where left & right fight for votes from the centre. That would be the best news possible. But it requires that the Liberals & Green “see the light” and get with a 2 party system: a united left under the NDP against a united right under the Conservatives.

I generally prefer the Liberals because they were more centrist and I hated the NDP’s big plank on “global warming” (which is stupid and ends up taxing everybody by shackling the economy to fight a condition which to my best estimation is still not "settled science"). My other bone of contention with the NDP is that they will push for a “preferential voting system” even though it isn’t in their platform. I dislike that because it tends to fragment politics into lots of little parties so you get single-issue parties like the BQ and the Greens getting “representation”. The first-past-the-post system helps gravitate toward a two party system, or at least forces parties to move to the centre so they can maximize votes.

I’m worried about a majority Conservative parliament under Harper. The fact that Harper put out a memo telling the bureaucrats to remove “Government of Canada” on everything and instead title everything as “Harper’s Government” makes me fear that we are in for the reign of a personality cult. Hopefully it won’t become that, but I do worry that Harper is a closet megalomaniac.

No comments: