Canada’s Seven-Year Political Crisis Set to Continue

Today a no-confidence motion toppled Stephen Harper’s Conservative minority government in Canada. Canada has not had a majority government since 2004, when the so-called “sponsorship scandal” rocked the incumbent Liberal government and wrecked their majority in that year’s election. Since 2006 Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister atop Conservative minority governments. Today’s vote means that there will be an election this year, the fourth in the last seven years.

Canada’s political instability is a result of the strength of the “sovereignist” Bloc Québécois, which generally wins roughly half of the seats in Canada’s second-largest province. None of the other parties are willing to enter a coalition with a party they call “separatist,” and the Liberals and NDP, both parties of the left, have been unable to win a majority between them. The Conservatives have thus entered government after the 2006 and 2008 elections by default as the largest party in parliament but have had to compromise with other parties in order to pass legislation. Opinion polls suggest that they will again be the largest party after an election this year, while again failing to reach a majority.

So you see why I always say that Canadian politics are more interesting than American politics. Of course, living under interesting politics may be as undesirable to some as living in interesting times, but I would argue that Canada’s gridlock has actually served the country fairly well. For one thing, Canada came out of the global recession in much better shape than their southern neighbor. Perhaps perpetual political crisis is good for something after all.

2 thoughts on “Canada’s Seven-Year Political Crisis Set to Continue

  1. As a Canadian studies scholar told me a couple of days ago: Canadians may have an election every few monthes but that means campaign seasons only last a week.

  2. Political instability makes it harder to do anything. Since government overwhelmingly does negative things, the less government does, the better. As soon as “global warming” kicks in, I’ll move up there.

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