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Canadian TCSers - Government change?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have heard about the Canadian vote of no confidence, and I was wondering is the Canadian TCSers could explain their governmental structure a little better than the news does.
How does the "vote of no confidence" work? Why was it called? What has the current government done that warrented the vote? What will happen to the government now that this has taken place?

Forgive my ignorance of Canadian civics...US schools barely teach our OWN country's civics, much less another's!

Thanks in advance!!
post #2 of 18
OOOOOOOOO Big question. Let me see if I can give it a reasonably short answer.

To start, let me point you at the Government of Canada website. LOTS of info there, and much more detail than I can hope to give. Read it at your leisure, if you feel so inclined.

For the purposes of gaining an understanding of this particular question/event, and what happens now, I think the most important bits are:

We elect Members of Parliament to represent us. There are 308 seats in Parliament, each representing a Constituency. There are four major political parties and a bunch of others. The party having the most seats generally forms the government, with its Leader as Prime Minister. If the party having the most seats does not hold a majority, it usually still forms the government, although it is possible for two parties to form a coalition.

The term of office can be up to five years. Generally the party in power decides when to hold the next election, which tends to be anywhere from three to four and a half years into its mandate. In a minority government situation, the Opposition parties may cooperate with the Government for a time, and allow the business of Parliament to proceed, but eventually party differences become insurmountable, and the Opposition refuses to back the Government on a piece of legislation which is deemed to be a matter of "confidence" in the government (such as a budget bill), or it calls for a Vote of Confidence.

When the Government loses a Confidence vote, it can no longer govern, Parliament must be dissolved and an election called.

This is essentially the situation in which we find ourselves. The (minority) Liberal Government barely survived a Confidence vote in the Spring, when they brokered a deal with one of the other parties around certain provisions in the budget being presented. Parliamentary proceedings have become increasing fractious in the following months.

A major issue has been irregularities in a programme of the previous (also Liberal) Government, which is generally referred to these days as "The Sponsorship Scandal". It was undoubtedly at least part of the reason this Government did not receive a majority, but an enquiry was instigated early in its mandate, and the Government promised to call an election 30 days after the final report from that enquiry. That would have put the election in late March or April 2006. The Opposition was not content with that, tried to force an election in February, and failed. They said that if the Government did not go along with that, they would call for a Vote of Confidence, and since they were united in their purpose, the Government lost.

So, now we go to the polls on January 23.

That's once over very lightly. Do have a look around the Canada site. There's even a rather chatty comparison between Canadian and American government there -- not unbiased, but perhaps useful.

Edited to add: I was concentrating so much on getting enough information into this without going overboard, that I forgot to say "thanks for asking".
post #3 of 18
Fran i am so impressed with your explanation. I don't think I could have made it as clear as that...even after all my canadian government/history classes in high school!
post #4 of 18
Excellent explanation.

The most interesting point in this current situation is the form of the "no confidence" bill. In the past, minority governments were defeated by the opposition parties defeating a major bill, like the budget. I think there are specific bills that are designated as "confidence" motions. So, the minority party in power can be defeated on some bills, as long as some of the opposition support the major issues.

This was a motion that had no other substantive content. It was a motion by the leader of the largest opposition party, that just said "We have lost confidence in the government". (paraphrase). So the Liberals were not defeated on one of their own bills.

What is also very interesting is that the Liberals, I believe, had intended to call an election for the spring anyway. So all this has done is move the expected date up a couple of months. And gives the Liberals someone else to blame for the inconvenience and expense of an election.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammie5

What is also very interesting is that the Liberals, I believe, had intended to call an election for the spring anyway. So all this has done is move the expected date up a couple of months.

Exactly my thought. Who wants to be watching election campaigns and ads all through christmas . I mean Stephen Harper is no Santa Claus!
post #6 of 18
At least they have announced a 'ceasefire' in campaigning for the Christmas weeks - I think it runs 23rd Dec - 3rd Jan.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renny
Exactly my thought. Who wants to be watching election campaigns and ads all through christmas . I mean Stephen Harper is no Santa Claus!
Ain't THAT the truth!
post #8 of 18
What? You're not interested in the elections then?! Who doesn't enjoy all the meaningful discussion of the important issues that affect us all. I for one am thoroughly looking forward to having my tv schedule interupted in order for us all to enjoy the traditional live debate. And I love all the campaign ads that have started running already. Very thought provoking. Just think, we're lucky enough to witness one of the longest election campaigns in Canadian history! Wow, just imagine how impressed your grandkids will be when you tell them that!
post #9 of 18
Methinks I feel a firm tug on my leg.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by pushylady
What? You're not interested in the elections then?! Who doesn't enjoy all the meaningful discussion of the important issues that affect us all. I for one am thoroughly looking forward to having my tv schedule interupted in order for us all to enjoy the traditional live debate. And I love all the campaign ads that have started running already. Very thought provoking. Just think, we're lucky enough to witness one of the longest election campaigns in Canadian history! Wow, just imagine how impressed your grandkids will be when you tell them that!

post #11 of 18
I can hardly wait to see Stephen Harper and Jack Layton duking it out.

It's too bad when it comes to voting we couldn't choose (D) None of the above!
post #12 of 18
Oh, for sure! I really do hate "least of the evils" voting.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for the info!!
I kind of thought it was more similar to the UK's structure than the US's, but I thought I should ask some folks who knew.
I have tried various news and info sites, but so many of them are confusing, it's easier to ask someone who's from there!! I will check out Rapunzal's suggested site, though.

Thanks again, all!! I appreciate it.
post #14 of 18
Rapunzel, that WAS indeed a good explanation and as someone involved in politics, I am not easily impressed. Bravo!!! Our system if govt is sometimes hard to explain - you should see me trying to explain the electoral college to Canadians, lol

Someone today called me looking for a job at the polls alreday - sighhhhhh - I was hoping they;d wait awhile, lol (Political parties here get to appoint the DRO's and Poll Clerks and it is different federally than provincially). Federally, the party that won in the riding (in this case, the NDP - Halifax) gets to choose the DRO's and the 2nd place party gets to choose poll clerks (in our case, the Liberals). The revision agents, supervisors and constables and information officers (election day) are divided among the two. The Returning Officer is of course appointed by the party in power (the Liberals) tho we might get a crack at an assistant RO.

It is usually budget bills that bring down governments in minority governments. Usually minority govts work well but this one did not becaause the Libs tried to act as if they had a majority!! So we have a winter election - tho we also had one in 1980 when the Joe Clark govt fell. I do recall the 1988 election was in late Nov tho as we had a snowstorm here the day of the election!!
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite
I can hardly wait to see Stephen Harper and Jack Layton duking it out.

It's too bad when it comes to voting we couldn't choose (D) None of the above!
When I was in university, our professor (upse at the fact that only about 10% of his politics class planned on voting) actually told us to go and vote and spoil our ballot by writing 'none of the above' so that we were not counted as apathetic voters but people not happy with any of the parties. OK they are never going to say 'this many people said they did not want to vote but spoiled their ballot', but coming from someone who has been to numerous counts - they did keep track of them.

Personally, I am actually looking forward to the election - its the first real one since I have been here and it will be interesting to compare to back home. I don't particularly like the idea of watching it over Christmas Dinner but still I find it interesting.

I will admit though - I am glad its not me out there campaigning over Christmas - its cold out there and campaigning is hard enough without snow and cold nights.

Quote:
Wow, thanks for the info!!
I kind of thought it was more similar to the UK's structure than the US's, but I thought I should ask some folks who knew.
I have tried various news and info sites, but so many of them are confusing, it's easier to ask someone who's from there!! I will check out Rapunzal's suggested site, though.
It is more similar to the UK than US, purely by the fact that it is a parliamentary system.
This is a great site for the basics all on one page

(I don't know abut the rest of the site - but that page is pretty accurate)
post #16 of 18
I like the law that requires ppl vote. If you do not vote, you have no right to complain!! Then again, I enjoy (most of the time - it has its moments) politics but it is a lot of work and many who complain have no idea what is involved in running an election!! I guess that is true of many things tho - we pounce and judge before we ask and analyze. Only about 5% of Cnds belong to a party which I found strange - my mom was in a polisci class once and trhe prof asked those who belonged to a party to put their hands up. She was the only one, lol

I have always belonged to a party - cannot imagine not being interested or involved!!! I love election day!!
post #17 of 18
We found the same thing in our pol sci class - the only people who were members were the three of us who all worked for a party or MP, and these are people who are studying for a PolSci degree!

After working in politics for so many years, it really annoys me when people simplify the job, think MPs work 5 hours a day or complain about them attending receptions and luncheons with stakeholders
post #18 of 18
I think our system is more similar to Australia than the UK.
And yes, I was being just a little sarky with my enthusiam! Though I must say, I would NEVER consider not voting. I'm always shocked when I meet people who don't. It's so easy to be apathetic in our country. But I agree if you can't even be bothered to get off your arse and vote, then don't complain to me about politics.
BTW, voting for say, the Greens isn't a wasted vote even if you know they won't get in. All the votes do count, and the numbers snowball. The percentages effect how much funding is given to each party. So if they get enough votes, the independent parties can get funding, and this will help them grow into more of a political force.
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