Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Liberals Win Minority Gov't: NDP Will Hold Balance of Power

"Across Canada tonight in an extremely tight election, we hope Canadians vote to put Canada first and vote to support values that make Canada the envy of the world."
Scott Brison, winning MP of Kings-Hants riding (Nova Scotia), regarding the Liberal's minority government victory.(WP)
The Liberals have earned themselves another spin on the merry-go-round that is Canadian politics. With a reasonable showing of 135 seats, the Libs won't have the absolute majority to pass legislation effortlessly, but they'll be able to retain power if they can enlist the support of Jack Layton's NDP. They've already ruled out a coalition government but if they want the NDP to vote in step with their proposals, they'll have to give the New Democrats a reason to play along.

Contrary to the worried chatter of the financial markets, this is truly the best of all possible scenarios. Harper and his Conservative warriors have been bested; although they won roughly 99 seats, this won't be enough to remove the Liberals from office. Economists are afraid of minority governments because they associate them with higher spending.

Since the Conservatives will now be the official opposition, they will hold the responsibility of keeping Liberal spending within reasonable limits, but they won't be able to institute their heinous platform of military expansion and tax cuts at the expense of our social programs. Harper may also have a new cross to bear; his own party may question his ability to ever beat the Liberals, a party that was tainted with the stench of corruption arising from their role in the Sponsorship Scandal but who still won in the end.

The other major reason that I'm smiling from ear to ear is that minority governments in Canada have always proven themselves to be most fruitful. In the past, such governments have instituted valuable social programs like employment insurance and universal health care.

Expect the NDP to try to bring in proportional representation, similar to the electoral systems in Germany and New Zealand, which should bode well for smaller parties in the future. Proportional representation was very effective for Germany's Green Party in the past, allowing Joschka Fischer to become Foreign Minister in 1998, and giving Green party supporters worldwide a reason to be optimistic.

Jack Layton has vowed that he will hold Paul Martin to his election promises and that he won't lie down for a Liberal government if their proposals aren't up to snuff. Since his 20 or so seats will be the security blanket that Paul Martin's Liberals will be forced to clutch, there is a good chance that our country will improve and make life slightly better for everyone.

Canada has never had one voice; we are a chorus of varying tones and pitches, with nobody rising above the din to negate everyone else. This is something that we should be proud of. I commend anyone who bothered to vote and I hope that we can all take pride in our form of government, since we managed to hold an election that was over in 5 weeks and didn't require the intervention of our Supreme Court to conclude.

Also, when I look outside at the trickle of early morning traffic on Guy Street here in Montreal, I don't see any civil war developing. Peace and good government; that's all Canada ever wanted.

If the Liberals try to pull a fast one on us, I'll be waiting. Keep your eyes open, Canada.

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