Canadian politics is usually so boring and dry there has always been a sense that the Canadian public is apathetic to federal political issues until this week. The opposition parties are dissatisfied with the Conservative party of Canada’s attempts to remove a guaranteed subsidy that allows political parties money to fundraise their election campaigns.
The Elections Act allows federal political parties to receive a taxpayer subsidy of $1.75 per year for every vote they receive in a general election; that figure has been indexed to inflation and is currently $1.95. To qualify, a party must receive at least two per cent of all votes cast in a general election, or five per cent of the votes cast in an electoral district in which it ran a candidate. The Conservatives will propose that this subsidy be eliminated.
Here are the estimated subsidies each party received in the 12 months prior to Sept. 30, 2008:
Bloc Quebecois:$3.03 million
Green party:$1.3 million
If the public subsidy is eliminated, political parties will have to rely on their own fundraising to pay for party expenses and election campaigns. Here is what each party raised in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30:
Conservatives: $19.7 million
Green party:$1.5 million
The Conservative Party of Canada would have a clear advantage if the guaranteed subsidy was removed and this is why the other political parties are furious.
Right now on Parliament Hill there is a storm of controversy because three political parties are attempting to seize power and overthrow the conservative party of Canada. According to Canadian law the three opposition parties do have a legal right to defeat the Conservative Party of Canada since they have a minority government.
According to a recent Angus Reid poll 64% of Canadians do not support Stephane Dion but 53% are against the Conservative party’s economic policy. The political cyclone is so tense that in a desperate bid to maintain power Prime Minister Stephen Harper has addressed the nation at 7pm Eastern time on television. The Liberal leader Stephane Dion will address the Canadian public after Harper on Canadian television.The Conservative Party of Canada is also airing political ads slamming the proposed coalition.
The Liberal party lead by Stephane Dion, the New Democratic Party lead by Jack Layton and the separatist party the Bloc Quebecois lead by Gilles Duceppe are forming a coalition.
The last time this kind of political crisis had occurred in Canada was in the year 1926. In 1926 Lord Byng of Vimy, then-governor general, decided not to call elections when Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King asked him to, giving Arthur Meighen, whose party had won more seats in the election, a chance to govern. Meighen lost a confidence vote as soon as Parliament reconvened and King won the ensuing election.
The public is divided on whether or not the new coalition should take place or not.
Since the Conservative party of Canada has a minority government and do not have magic number of 155 to form a majority government. The Conservative Party of Canada has only 143 seats. If the opposition parties coalition is successful this would mean they have 163 seats and could technically govern the nation. The coalition could defeat the Conservative Party of Canada.
The three parties New Democratic Party also known as the NDP, Liberal Party, and Bloc Quebecois are forming a coalition and they can topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government. It is strange that the NDP and the Liberals are forming a coalition with the separatist Bloc Quebecois since that party wants to separate from Canada.
Many Canadians in English Canada are against the Bloc Quebecois because this party wants to separate from Canada. Why should a political party that wants to separate from the rest of Canada be allowed at all?
The crisis is so bad that the Governor General Michaelle Jean quickly returned to Canada from a European tour. There is so much pressure on Ms. Jean right now. What is Ms. Jean going to do?
In the year 2004 Stephen Harper also formed a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP in an attempt to topple the Liberal minority government when they were in power four years ago.
The quandary is since Ms. Jean is the head of state in Canada she has to decide the fate of Canada. Ms. Jean has to make a decision whether to allow the new alliance between the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois to form a new government. Another alternative is Ms. Jean can allow Prime Minister Stephen Harper to prorogue Parliament giving him more time. Harper is hoping the new coalition will fail. Harper wants more time until January 27th 2009 to come up with a budget.
The opposition parties want to have non confidence vote on December 8th next week because they do not have confidence that Prime Minister Harper can govern the nation properly. Prime Minister Harper of course wants to maintain power. It is so unfortunate that Ms. Jean is being put in this difficult situation. The Governor General is usually just a ceremonial role Queen Elizabeth II representative for Canada. Now Ms. Jean has a difficult decision to make. Ms. Jean can dissolve the current government and call an election.
However, there was just an election six weeks ago so this is unlikely. Everyone in Canada is waiting to see what Ms. Jean is going to do. The political theatre in Ottawa is so emotional there were outbursts yesterday between Mr. Dion and Mr. Harper in the House of Commons. It is obvious the Conservative Party of Canada is very weak right now and it looks like Stephen Harper he may lose the confidence of his own party sooner rather than later.