I have been fielding a lot of questions about what is happening with federal politics right now given the threat of the opposition bringing down the government. So here is Canadian politics 101:
– The Canadian parliamentary system operates usually with majorities. That is one party takes a majority of seats (155) in the House of Commons. Convention dictates that the Governor General (GG) would then ask the leader of that party to form a government.
– In situations where one party does not win a majority then convention dictates that the GG would ask the leader of the party with the most seats to form a government. Now there have been situations where this has not happened. Notably the King-Byng affair. King did not win the largest number of seats but he was a sitting prime minister and he was able to put together a coalition with the Progressive party to govern. The government did not last long due to a scandal. King asked GG Byng to dissolve parliament and call an election and he refused. Instead he opted to ask Arthur Meighen to form a government as there had been an election recently. This is what the coalition of Liberals and NDP are counting on.
– Here is how things stand right now the Liberals are going to introduce a motion of non-confidence. Basically if it passes, it means that the members of the House of Commons have lost confidence in the government. If this motion passes then the government falls. The GG can then call an election or ask the new coalition to form a government.
Here is a press release from the Canadians for a Progressive Coalition:
What a weekend! The Liberals and NDP have agreed to form a coalition government with support from the Bloc Quebecois. With our help, they will bring down the Conservative minority government on December 8 with a vote of no-confidence, and form a coalition government with mixed cabinet.
This week, we can expect a massive campaign trying to discredit the validity of a coalition government. There will be millions of dollars put towards this. It is absolutely critical that we respond strongly. We may lack the money, but we, the 60% of Canadians who voted for progressive platforms, certainly have the numbers. We will need to push with everything we have this week to show the country and our MPs that Canadians support a progressive coalition.
Canadians for a Progressive Coalition is a non-partisn grass-roots movement that was formed shortly after the election to organize Canadians to show their support for a progressive coalition. As of Sunday at 9PM PST well over 4,000 people have signed the petition, over 2,500 have joined the Facebook group, and over 4,000 have watched our YouTube video.
That’s a good start. There are two goals that we need to accomplish this week: First, to show the media convincingly that Canadians support a progressive coalition. Second, to show our MPs that Canadians want a progressive coalition.
What can you do?
1. If you have not done so already, please sign the petition. We will submit the petition to Parliament on Thursday December 4, which is shaping up to include events across the country. We will submit the updated petition again on Monday December 8, the day of the confidence vote.
2. Forward this message to people who use email, and speak with people who don’t. Speak with your friends and family and show them the YouTube video.
3. Phone either your MP, or the President of the local Riding Association of the party you voted for, to tell them you support their party forming a coalition government.
4. Write letters to the editor, call in to radio shows, and post comments on news stories and blogs. We have included a guide with some key messages and facts to help you.
People are preparing events for this Thursday. We are planning a series of “Candles for a Coalition” gatherings and rallies accross the country. We are meeting with other organizations that are driving action on this issue Monday morning to coordinate our efforts and will report back to you shortly.
Finally, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to become an organizer in your region.
Canadians for a Progressive Coalition
PS – Check out another group rowing in the same direction: http://www.smartvote2008.ca/