Some Thoughts on Coalition Governments

A blast from the past (and hopefully a preview of the future) – December 10, 2008

This has been a very interesting and exciting week for the hot-stove discussions that revolve around Canadian politics, I just hope that it will translate into a more active role for Canadians in their government.

My take on the situation is that after the last elections, all Canadians showed their desire for the political parties to work together for the good of Canada. In forming a coalition government, three parties respected the desires of Canadians, one party did not.

The coalition has extracted a guarantee from the Bloc Quebecois that the Bloc will not veto any coalition government confidence motion for the next 18 months, paving the way for progress and not digression. Obtaining an 18 month guarantee of political stability from the Bloc would allow any Canadian government to be able to completely address the issues that Canadians have asked it to deal with during a time frame that is more crucial then any other during Canada’s recent history. In other words, the coalition has already done more to protect Canadian stability then the current government and the coalition is not even in power yet.

The suspension of Parliament by the Conservatives for six weeks, at a time when everyday lost in dealing with economic and financial problems means more Canadian job losses in all sectors, shows me that the Conservatives seem more interested in their own party’s standing then with addressing the problems of everyday Canadians. This is an attitude that is unacceptable in any government.

My long-term solution is that Canadian government should be reformed so that every government is a coalition of all elected MPs, not divided into governing and opposition parties like we have now. The Prime Minister would still be the leader of the party that has the most seats in the house, but the cabinet would be comprised of members of ALL parties, the number of posts for each party in cabinent a reflection of the number of elected MPs in the house.

For example, if there are 250 seats in parliament and 25 cabinet posts, then a party with 100 seats in parliament would have 10 cabinet positions, a party with 70 seats would have 7 cabinet posts, etc. Restricting members of the cabinet to only those who come from the party with the most seats in the house reduces the talent pool from which our leaders and decision-makers can come from, and there is a lot of talent in Canada.

More importantly, our current system has one party, the government, proposing ideas for Canada while the other parties, the “opposition” parties, spend their time (and our resources) trying to stop the implementation of government plans and ideas. A change to my proposal for parliamentary reform would mean that there would still be healthy competition between the political parties, only the competition would now revolve around who can get the most done for Canadians as opposed to the competition we have now which revolves around opposition parties devoting their time to preventing things from getting done.

This is by no means a call for a one party system, a structure that has the potential to defeat the purpose of different ideas being able to work together by simply eliminating different ideas. But it is a call for all political parties to put the same one item at the top of their mandate and agenda: getting things done for the people who elected them into office.

tj

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