Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Canada, minority government is a theatre of the absurd

Elections can be burdensome on the public.

Kathleen Wynne (Liberal): “Just received some good polling numbers. Time to threaten an election.”

They cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. They pollute the airwaves with partisan propaganda. Voters have to take time out of their busy schedules to go down to a polling station and vote. Afterwards, people typically follow election coverage to see how it all turned out.

Is it asking too much for newly elected politicians to do their job and govern?

In Canada it is.

Tim Hudak (PC): “Not even gonna look at the budget. I vote for an election!“

Here, when one minority party does not win all the power, the election results are all but nullified. Instead of getting government, we get an extended election campaign, like a game gone into overtime. Politicians don't represent constituents, they plot and scheme hoping to get a bump in the polls so they can trigger another election and win the big prize.

How it's supposed to be done

In the rest of the developed world, there's no such thing as a “minority government.” And they certainly don't dole out absolute power to minority parties. There, stable multi-party majority governments are the norm.

Andrea Horwath (NDP): “What if I work with the Liberals and they get all the credit? I'll just make absurd demands.“

Canada has about the most unstable government there is when compared to Western European nations that use PR — and we dole out 4 year dictatorships most of the time.

We need to do as developed countries did a century ago: ditch the theatre of the absurd for sane, competent government.

Either Preferential Voting (ranked ballot) or Proportional Representation will get the job done. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

(Unfortunately, the theatre of the absurd has spilled over into the voting reform debate. Some reformers have decided the best way to win Canadians over to their voting system is to wage a war against the other option. Sigh.)

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