Monday, December 1, 2008

Ottawa Intrigue

Two Canadian parties, the New Democrats and the Liberals, are plotting to overthrow the Conservative minority government, and form a coalition government. Further details can be found in this CBC report.

A no-confidence vote is scheduled for December 8. As is the case in other parliamentary systems, if such a vote is successful, the parliament in effect fires the prime minister (in this case, Stephen Harper). Such a move often brings about a new general election. But, probably sensing voter fatigue in a country that has already gone to the polls three times since 2004, the would-be coalition partners want to form a new government within the current parliament, and thereby avoid an election.

They seem to be counting on the support of the Bloq Quebecois in the no-confidence vote, but the Bloq would not be a coalition partner. I suppose that's a function of the tension that has always existed for the Bloq, in participating in a federal government from which they want their province to secede.

Therefore, the Liberal-NDP coalition would form another minority government.

One complication is that the larger of the coalition partners, the Liberal Party, has a lame-duck leader, Stephane Dion. According to this article in the National Post, a Toronto-based newspaper, Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner to replace Dion, would become prime minister. However, that does not seem entirely clear at this point.

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