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Canadian politics- "to work! We have a government to defeat!"

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An election is looming and everyone is in denial about the sad state of the economy since Harper came to power. How will it all end?

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I expect it will end in an NDP minority government.

What worries me is that the NDP and the Liberals are having wedges driven between them. I hear a lot of shit talk from NDPers and see quite nasty comments in political stories from NDPers about Liberals. (and one of my favourite Canadian boarders certainly is in that camp :P ) This should be an opportunity for a small-l liberal coalition that acts like a majority government to drive huge nails into Conservative policy coffins, but the relentless negative campaigning for the last 10 years by the Conservatives against the Liberals seems to have found roots in the NDP.

Harper has in the past explained he has a personal campaign to destroy the Liberal party, so that Canada is left with basically a two party system, with the Conservatives occupying both the space the PCs once had and that the Liberals have traditionally occupied, making it possible for his faux-PC party to win more elections. As much as I like many things Mulcair says, the NDP are still too left wing in many areas for my taste, and would benefit from a coalition with the Liberals. Let's face it, do you think an NDP government would ever have turned around Canada's fiscal situation the way the Chretien - Martin governments did? Of course not, too many hard decisions had to be made. Harper wouldn't continue it either, and thus he has spent his entire time in government in deficit mode, save for the year he inherited a surplus.

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I expect it will end in an NDP minority government.

What worries me is that the NDP and the Liberals are having wedges driven between them. I hear a lot of shit talk from NDPers and see quite nasty comments in political stories from NDPers about Liberals. (and one of my favourite Canadian boarders certainly is in that camp :P ) This should be an opportunity for a small-l liberal coalition that acts like a majority government to drive huge nails into Conservative policy coffins, but the relentless negative campaigning for the last 10 years by the Conservatives against the Liberals seems to have found roots in the NDP.

Harper has in the past explained he has a personal campaign to destroy the Liberal party, so that Canada is left with basically a two party system, with the Conservatives occupying both the space the PCs once had and that the Liberals have traditionally occupied, making it possible for his faux-PC party to win more elections. As much as I like many things Mulcair says, the NDP are still too left wing in many areas for my taste, and would benefit from a coalition with the Liberals. Let's face it, do you think an NDP government would ever have turned around Canada's fiscal situation the way the Chretien - Martin governments did? Of course not, too many hard decisions had to be made. Harper wouldn't continue it either, and thus he has spent his entire time in government in deficit mode, save for the year he inherited a surplus.

 

First past the post elections have helped make it possible too, and an NDP government could put an end to that. And you'd likely see coalition governments after all future elections if mixed member proportional representation is put in place.

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I expect it will end in an NDP minority government.

What worries me is that the NDP and the Liberals are having wedges driven between them. I hear a lot of shit talk from NDPers and see quite nasty comments in political stories from NDPers about Liberals. (and one of my favourite Canadian boarders certainly is in that camp :P ) This should be an opportunity for a small-l liberal coalition that acts like a majority government to drive huge nails into Conservative policy coffins, but the relentless negative campaigning for the last 10 years by the Conservatives against the Liberals seems to have found roots in the NDP.

Harper has in the past explained he has a personal campaign to destroy the Liberal party, so that Canada is left with basically a two party system, with the Conservatives occupying both the space the PCs once had and that the Liberals have traditionally occupied, making it possible for his faux-PC party to win more elections. As much as I like many things Mulcair says, the NDP are still too left wing in many areas for my taste, and would benefit from a coalition with the Liberals. Let's face it, do you think an NDP government would ever have turned around Canada's fiscal situation the way the Chretien - Martin governments did? Of course not, too many hard decisions had to be made. Harper wouldn't continue it either, and thus he has spent his entire time in government in deficit mode, save for the year he inherited a surplus.

 

I wouldn't blame that. The NDP and it's supporters have hated the Liberals LONG before Harper came around.

 

They've always been angry and bitter about being seen as the crazy left party and by not being taken seriously compared to the liberals and have seen the liberals as worse because they are really pro-corporate right-wingers in disguise and blah blah blah.

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I wouldn't blame that. The NDP and it's supporters have hated the Liberals LONG before Harper came around.
 
They've always been angry and bitter about being seen as the crazy left party and by not being taken seriously compared to the liberals and have seen the liberals as worse because they are really pro-corporate right-wingers in disguise and blah blah blah.


There seemed to be a time, though, when a Liberal - NDP amalgamation, unite the right, seemed within grasp.

First past the post elections have helped make it possible too, and an NDP government could put an end to that. And you'd likely see coalition governments after all future elections if mixed member proportional representation is put in place.


That's true, but every party in opposition has claimed that they would reform the electoral system. Once in power, though, thoughts of doing any such thing fly away.

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Recent polling does show a continuing rise in the popularity of the NDP. Whether this translates into votes in October is another question. The fact that we are in recession and have been since Harper took office is probably the reason why. Oil prices were all that kept the economy afloat west of Manitoba and now that prices have dropped, well welcome to real world, western cousins, the one we have lived in for the last decade.  No wonder there is a mood to change the people at the top.

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Recent polling does show a continuing rise in the popularity of the NDP. Whether this translates into votes in October is another question. The fact that we are in recession and have been since Harper took office is probably the reason why. Oil prices were all that kept the economy afloat west of Manitoba and now that prices have dropped, well welcome to real world, western cousins, the one we have lived in for the last decade.  No wonder there is a mood to change the people at the top.

 

Hey man, I've live in that world too. Oil prices weren't helping shit where I live.

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Did some mod kindly delete my drunken rant against Harper?

No, I don't think so, there's a mild rant in the Changing names of government organizations thread. :) Edited by Fragile Bird

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I'm not really sure what will happen in the election. With luck, we'll be rid of Harper in less than three months! The Alberta election result aside, I'm not sure how to account for the Liberals' slide. It may have something to do with the frequent inclusion of seat projections in polling results. Without any large regional stronghold, this makes the Liberals' prospects look a lot worse (not necessarily inaccurately), and with much of the country in an anti-Harper mood, this may have created something of a bandwagon effect for the NDP. 

 

It's still pretty early though, and I'm not really sure what will happen during the campaign. 

 

That's true, but every party in opposition has claimed that they would reform the electoral system. Once in power, though, thoughts of doing any such thing fly away.

 

Ontario and BC have both held referenda on electoral reform in the last 10 years. You could argue, though, that both governments of the time went to lengths to sabotage the results, especially in BC where a ludicrously high threshold of 60% was set for the referendum. In 2005, 57.7% voted for reform yet this was regarded as a "defeat". 

 

I'm not really sure how such super-majority requirements will ever be justifiable in the future. To take some of the rhetoric around the Clarity Act at face value, we might suppose that a future federal government facing another Quebec referendum could (or at least try to) ignore a 58% "Yes" vote, a situation that absolutely not prevail.

 

If a simple majority was enough for Scotland to leave its 308-year-old union with England, then it will be difficult if not impossible to insist on any higher threshold for something as trivial as electoral reform.

Edited by Aemon Stark

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An election is looming and everyone is in denial about the sad state of the economy since Harper came to power. How will it all end?

I see it as either a NDP majority or a Conservative minority.  It all depends on how well Trudeau does in the election, imo.  If he does well, then he splits the left vote and Harper's in again.  If he screws up or perhaps just gets overshadowed by Mulcair and Harper, then I think that will be enough for the left to coalesce around Mulcair, reducing the Cons to their core supporters and the NDP continuing to making breakthroughs throughout the country and gaining a majority.  I'm not sure that anything else will really matter, as Harper is going to have his core support no matter what happens, and I can't see Mulcair or the NDP doing anything to turn people against him/them in droves from now to October.  Or maybe people will just wizen up and realise that Harper is an absolute travesty of a PM and abandon the Conservatives, but given that core support, this appears to be rather unlikely, imo.  

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I dunno - does Harper still have that support? He's alienated tons of moderate to fairly right conservatives for the crazy fringe, and has made stupid anti-intellectual challenges & mistakes in several areas (ie. Picking a fight with the Supreme Court/lawyers, muzzling environmental information/ scientists & academics, etc.) I admit it may also be more wishful thinking on my part but I do think he's lost a lot more internal support than the PCs let on, much less outside support. E

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I'm not really sure what will happen in the election. With luck, we'll be rid of Harper in less than three months! The Alberta election result aside, I'm not sure how to account for the Liberals' slide. It may have something to do with the frequent inclusion of seat projections in polling results. Without any large regional stronghold, this makes the Liberals' prospects look a lot worse (not necessarily inaccurately), and with much of the country in an anti-Harper mood, this may have created something of a bandwagon effect for the NDP. 

 

It's still pretty early though, and I'm not really sure what will happen during the campaign. 

 

 

Ontario and BC have both held referenda on electoral reform in the last 10 years. You could argue, though, that both governments of the time went to lengths to sabotage the results, especially in BC where a ludicrously high threshold of 60% was set for the referendum. In 2005, 57.7% voted for reform yet this was regarded as a "defeat". 

 

I'm not really sure how such super-majority requirements will ever be justifiable in the future. To take some of the rhetoric around the Clarity Act at face value, we might suppose that a future federal government facing another Quebec referendum could (or at least try to) ignore a 58% "Yes" vote, a situation that absolutely not prevail.

 

If a simple majority was enough for Scotland to leave its 308-year-old union with England, then it will be difficult if not impossible to insist on any higher threshold for something as trivial as electoral reform.

 

A super-majority threshold is not at all ludicrous for fundamental changes to the democratic system.

 

Or, you know, secession.

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We change governments without even a simple majority. Even constitutional change as per the amending formula does not actually require more than a simple majority, provided 7 of 10 provinces are on side.

And these things rapidly become a matter of precedent. It's of course not the case that, say, 51% "yes" would be enough to effect secession absolutely. But could it be ignored? Is that legitimate? Is a contested secession a likely outcome?

For that matter, Parliament can and has made numerous changes to the electoral system on its own. We don't need referendums to pass budgets or the so-called Fair Elections Act.

And in the case of BC's 2005 referendum, it is absolutely ludicrous to argue that 58% did not constitute a "clear" majority. The 60% threshold was simply unjustifiable. After all, it's not as though these things are fixed in time.

In any event, there is no basis in Canadian constitutional law to require a referendum for anything.

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I'm not really sure what will happen in the election. With luck, we'll be rid of Harper in less than three months! The Alberta election result aside, I'm not sure how to account for the Liberals' slide. It may have something to do with the frequent inclusion of seat projections in polling results. Without any large regional stronghold, this makes the Liberals' prospects look a lot worse (not necessarily inaccurately), and with much of the country in an anti-Harper mood, this may have created something of a bandwagon effect for the NDP. 

 

I think this is easily the most interesting part of the election. The Canadian Liberals, for whatever reason, managed to survive the fate of their British and New Zealand equivalents a century ago. But now?

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We change governments without even a simple majority. Even constitutional change as per the amending formula does not actually require more than a simple majority, provided 7 of 10 provinces are on side.

And these things rapidly become a matter of precedent. It's of course not the case that, say, 51% "yes" would be enough to effect secession absolutely. But could it be ignored? Is that legitimate? Is a contested secession a likely outcome?

For that matter, Parliament can and has made numerous changes to the electoral system on its own. We don't need referendums to pass budgets or the so-called Fair Elections Act.

 

Uh, 7 out of 10 provinces is a super-majority requirement. Which is kinda the point.

 

There's a difference between an election under the system we all agree to and changing the electoral system itself. That is literally Harper-level bullshit.

 

 

And in the case of BC's 2005 referendum, it is absolutely ludicrous to argue that 58% did not constitute a "clear" majority. The 60% threshold was simply unjustifiable. After all, it's not as though these things are fixed in time.

 

 

Why? Why is 50%+1 a AOK but 10% more is ludicrous?

Edited by Shryke

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Uh, 7 out of 10 provinces is a super-majority requirement. Which is kinda the point.
 
There's a difference between an election under the system we all agree to and changing the electoral system itself. That is literally Harper-level bullshit.
 
 
 
Why? Why is 50%+1 a AOK but 10% more is ludicrous?


So, who voted for our current electoral system? Or our current constitution? I suppose I should clarify that the amending formula only requires that said 7 of 10 provinces represent 50% + 1 of the population. Nothing about submitting anything to referendum. No constitutional document ever has been, apart from the Charlottetown Accord which itself failed.

So what's the reason to require any referendum let alone a high threshold with a super majority? Why does it amount to such a "fundamental" change, more so than the effects of electing a government based on a plurality of the vote? I'd argue that it's far more illegitimate to award the kind of power that goes to a "majority" government than to accept a referendum question that had 58% support.

Simply put, if political decisions require popular legitimacy in the form of at least majority if not supermajority support, then it follows that the electoral system must function along this principle as well. It currently doesn't and hasn't, even though we've still ended up with three minority governments in the last ten years. We've also ended up with a government that has never boasted more than 40% popular support.

If we are going to argue that "big" decisions require widespread consensus in the form of super majorities, I question how governments can then be elected to exercise majority power on the basis of no more than a plurality of support. But if we go on to say that an electoral system that provides for such results regularly is "democratic enough", it remains to be seen why a simple majority on any question is not in itself a "super" majority.

As for the secession angle, the Scottish referendum will be a precedent going forward that will make imposition of a super majority untenable. A "clear question" would, however, be an absolute requirement for much the same reason. I don't think this will have much relevance for Canada again anytime soon if ever, but pretending a 51% sovereigntist vote could be ignored is delusional, even if it would not effect secession immediately by itself.

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So, who voted for our current electoral system? Or our current constitution? I suppose I should clarify that the amending formula only requires that said 7 of 10 provinces represent 50% + 1 of the population. Nothing about submitting anything to referendum. No constitutional document ever has been, apart from the Charlottetown Accord which itself failed.

So what's the reason to require any referendum let alone a high threshold with a super majority? Why does it amount to such a "fundamental" change, more so than the effects of electing a government based on a plurality of the vote? I'd argue that it's far more illegitimate to award the kind of power that goes to a "majority" government than to accept a referendum question that had 58% support.

Simply put, if political decisions require popular legitimacy in the form of at least majority if not supermajority support, then it follows that the electoral system must function along this principle as well. It currently doesn't and hasn't, even though we've still ended up with three minority governments in the last ten years. We've also ended up with a government that has never boasted more than 40% popular support.

If we are going to argue that "big" decisions require widespread consensus in the form of super majorities, I question how governments can then be elected to exercise majority power on the basis of no more than a plurality of support. But if we go on to say that an electoral system that provides for such results regularly is "democratic enough", it remains to be seen why a simple majority on any question is not in itself a "super" majority.

 

Because there is a difference between wining the current system and changing the system. This is literally the basis of the very idea of constitutional democracy. I don't know why this is hard for you.

 

You are also being overly simplistic with this majority crap. Our system is not majoritarian and never has been. It makes room for regional interests by design.

 

Supermajority requirements exist because certain kinds of changes (like a large scale reshaping of the very electoral system) are seen as fundamental and sweeping enough that they should require broader consensus to implement. The electoral system is almost always on this list because it's broadly accepted that changing the way a government is elected is dangerous as it can very easily advantage the ruling party, sometimes permanently, among other issues.

 

 

As for the secession angle, the Scottish referendum will be a precedent going forward that will make imposition of a super majority untenable. A "clear question" would, however, be an absolute requirement for much the same reason. I don't think this will have much relevance for Canada again anytime soon if ever, but pretending a 51% sovereigntist vote could be ignored is delusional, even if it would not effect secession immediately by itself.  

 

Given the ridiculously broad changes involved in secession, including stripping people of citizenship and/or property, a simple majority requirement is morally and legally untenable. It would have political consequences based on the degree of unrest that must precede that kind of thing but it's delusional to think 50%+1 is enough for that kind of shit.

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I think this is easily the most interesting part of the election. The Canadian Liberals, for whatever reason, managed to survive the fate of their British and New Zealand equivalents a century ago. But now?


The horrible election for the Liberals was the last one. This time around they will probably double their seats.

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Because there is a difference between wining the current system and changing the system. This is literally the basis of the very idea of constitutional democracy. I don't know why this is hard for you.

 

You are also being overly simplistic with this majority crap. Our system is not majoritarian and never has been. It makes room for regional interests by design.

 

Supermajority requirements exist because certain kinds of changes (like a large scale reshaping of the very electoral system) are seen as fundamental and sweeping enough that they should require broader consensus to implement. The electoral system is almost always on this list because it's broadly accepted that changing the way a government is elected is dangerous as it can very easily advantage the ruling party, sometimes permanently, among other issues.

 

Of course there's a difference. My point is that routine changes in government don't require even simple majorities, despite having a system that is supposed to reflect "representation by population". First-past-the-post works well in two party systems, but fails in multi-party systems where it's sometimes possible for a minority party to win a majority of seats (see BC in 1996, Quebec in 1998, and federally in 1979). Now whether you think party representation is the key problem here probably depends on your general opinion about political parties. It is also true that PMs and premiers derive their authority from their parties' standings in the legislature, so it follows that relative party representation is extremely important for determining who gets to govern. 

 

By contrast, changing the electoral system does not even require constitutional change, and could be effected with a simple Act of Parliament. We don't submit periodic riding redistributions to referendum, and those can have substantial effects on electoral outcome. So what's the basis to insist upon a referendum on other types of electoral reform, let alone require a very high threshold? In the 2005 BC referendum, 77 of 79 ridings had a majority in favour of reform, suggesting a rather wide regional consensus that far exceeds the results of almost all elections. Yet this is regarded as a "failed" attempt at reform even though a strong majority all across the province voted for it. The requirement of a particularly high threshold - in this case - was hardly about ensuring broad consensus so much as it was to bias the status quo - something that was established by the BC Liberal government (whose members were largely opposed to reform!). 

 

If indeed regional interests are paramount, we might take a cue from the Swiss who accept constitutional changes with a simple majority, provided a majority of cantons vote for the amendment as well. 

 

Given the ridiculously broad changes involved in secession, including stripping people of citizenship and/or property, a simple majority requirement is morally and legally untenable. It would have political consequences based on the degree of unrest that must precede that kind of thing but it's delusional to think 50%+1 is enough for that kind of shit.

 

It's fairly clear that Parizeau probably would have attempted (or strongly considered) a unilateral declaration of independence following a narrow "yes" win in 1995, at least if there was a refusal to enter into negotiations on the part of the federal government. This would have been legally untenable for myriad reasons, but the problem for any future referendum would be the requirement for recognition in advance of just what a "clear majority" is. That has yet to be done. The key is that - in Canada at least - the Secession Reference established that secession of any province requires a constitutional amendment, so then while a 50%+1 "yes" victory might be enough to lead to negotiations, it could also lead to "renewed" federalism (this is actually what Bouchard thought would happen!) following a second process of constitutional debate. 

 

It all sounds very existential and exhausting, which is probably why the idea of another referendum is political Kryptonite for 65-70% of Quebecers. 

 

In Quebec, I don't think any specific super majority requirement is especially justifiable, at least from an overall popular vote standpoint. The crucial thing would be to establish a threshold for a super majority of ridings or regions. In 1995, 80 of 125 ridings had a majority in favour of the "yes" side, but that left over a third in the "no" column, including most of Montreal. We might require then that support of all regions (or say 75% of ridings) be needed for a "yes" victory, the practical effect would be to require a larger popular majority as well. 

 

But what's the right number for a referendum? 55%? 70%? The only essential stipulation is that the minority accepts the result, but anything other than 50%+1 is entirely arbitrary. 

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