Canada Kicks Ass
A Crash Course In 'Responsible Government'


JaredMilne @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:20 am

The new federal election has just started. Many people are expecting that, no matter who wins, the result will likely be a minority government. That makes this an ideal time to discuss exactly what a minority government is, and the options political leaders have under it. For the purposes of this article, the “government” refers to the prime minister and his cabinet. The same principle applies at the provincial level, albeit with the premier, his cabinet and MLAs.

Canada’s constitution is founded on the idea of “responsible government.” The government is responsible to the representatives of the people (all of the MPs), and can’t make decisions or pass laws unless it has Parliament’s confidence. Confidence votes can be called if the government loses a legislative vote, particularly an important one like the budget bill. If the government loses the support of most of the MPs in a confidence vote, it can’t govern. The government either has to let some other party try to form government itself, or an election must be called.

A ‘majority’ government occurs when a majority of MPs are of the government’s own party. A ‘minority’ government occurs when a majority of the MPs belong to the Opposition parties. In a majority, the government doesn’t usually have to worry about its legislation being defeated. It can count on its MPs to support it, and it will usually last until the normal time for an election.

A minority government is a trickier situation. It won’t have enough MP support to pass legislation on its own, and if the Opposition parties all vote against it, it’s done for. This is a safeguard meant to ensure that governments that “burn out” are replaced with new ones. When the Paul Martin Liberals ran out of gas in 2005, the Opposition triggered a non-confidence vote and the resulting election brought former Conservative prime ministerStephen Harper to power.

Minority governments have a few options on what to do. Lester Pearson only had two minority governments from 1963 to 1968, but he always managed to get one of the Opposition parties to support his government’s legislation. Former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau relied on the NDP’s support from 1972 to 1974 until he was in a position to regain a majority in the 1974 election. During his minorities, Harper almost dared the Opposition parties to try and defeat his legislation, knowing most of the public didn’t want another election so soon after the previous ones. When he was nearly replaced by the Stephane Dion Liberals in 2008 who were planning a non-confidence vote following the fall election, Harper correctly anticipated the public backlash against being replaced after having won the most seats in the election.

What happens if this fall’s election gives us a minority government? It’s impossible to predict. Jagmeet Singh said the NDP won’t prop up a Conservative minority, while Elizabeth May said the Greens probably would. Justin Trudeau hasn’t said what he’d do in Opposition, and it’s hard to say which of the other parties would support a Liberal minority.


Martin15 @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:29 am

Trudope re-elected with a smaller but still majority.

Yes people are just that stupid.


xerxes @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:34 am

I'm actually expecting a Liberal Minority government.


MeganC @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:53 pm

I'd like to see William Shatner as PM of Canada!


BeaverFever @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:50 pm

Trudeau will be re-elected with a smaller majority. The so-called scandals will damage his support and he deserves it. But none are egregious enough to anyone who isn’t already a dedicated supporter of the other parties and the economy is booming so voters have no real reason for change and the other parties haven’t offered any.


Freakinoldguy @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:59 pm

xerxes xerxes:
I'm actually expecting a Liberal Minority government.

If that happens the Conservatives had better call a leadership review and actually find an actual man or bring Rona out of retirement to fill the position because Scheer is as milquetoast as Trudeau is narcissistic and manipulative.

FFS Scheer makes Stephan Dion look like He Man and who's ever running his campaign had better get their heads out their collective asses because this, "I'm gonna make sure you have more money to spend" isn't cutting it since people want a leader to have an actual position on the issues especially during an elections.

So far all Scheer has said that's tough talk is that they'd prevent special interest groups from stopping gov't projects. Well that's nice to say but, in Trudeau Sr's Canada where lawyers rule, the Supreme Court can pretty much make that statement moot. Unless of course your party has a real leader willing to use the notwithstanding clause to put the unelected star chamber in their place. (See paragraph 1)

Politics is a blood sport and none of the current crop of candidates would last a week in a real old school political free for all.


raydan @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:13 pm

The only thing I'm hoping for is that the Rhino Party gets one candidate elected... 4% of the votes will then get them into the next election debates. :rock:


fifeboy @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 3:23 pm

raydan raydan:
The only thing I'm hoping for is that the Rhino Party gets one candidate elected... 4% of the votes will then get them into the next election debates. :rock:

First logical thing I've heard in a week. Go Rhino.


Thanos @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:34 pm

If the Liberals form a minority govt propped up by the Dippers or Greens then you might as well permanently shut down this country, especially the West, for business and investment. Trudeau's done enough damage with a majority. With a minority dependent on radical environmentalist psychos it'll be game over. A second Trudeau majority would be bad enough. Trudeau backed up in a minority by a nut like Elizabeth May would be an apocalypse. I can think of nothing more likely to send separatist sentiment in Alberta (and Saskatchewan) into a frothing boil. And it wouldn't go away either. It would fester to a point beyond toxicity, to the verge of civil unrest and even violence. This is not a joke, this is how mad people out here are right now and they're only getting angrier.

This country is on it's last legs as it is. That kind of election result would do nothing but smash the entire rotten structure into splinters.


JaredMilne @ Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:41 pm

Freakinoldguy Freakinoldguy:
FS Scheer makes Stephan Dion look like He Man


Dude, if I could I'd rep you just for this line alone.