Monday, December 19, 2005

Canada's Political system (in a nutshell)

This one's for BigBuddhaPuppy over at De-Center. In my post on the latest election in Canada, he asked for some general information on Canada's political system.

So, here goes:

Canada uses a parliamentary system, based on the Westminster system from the UK. There are 308 constituencies (or ridings) represented in the House of Commons. The party with a majority of these "seats" forms the government. In the case where there is no clear majority, the party with the most seats forms the "minority government" which usually survives by dealing with one of the other parties (or any independent Members of Parliament - these are members not affiliated with a party). Governments can be brought down, as was the case this past November, by a vote of no confidence. The ruling Liberal party lost a non-confidence vote (they had been backed by the socialist-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) but had screwed up so badly that they deserved to get turfed).

The ridings are supposed to be representative based on population, but this is not the case. The voter size of each riding can fluctuate between 130,000 to 27,000. Which is hardly "representative".

Political Parties:

Liberals - basically in the centre of the political spectrum.
Conservatives - basically to the right
NDP - to the left - no where near the centre
Bloc Quebecois - separatists (that's right - they run federally and want to separate Quebec from the country. Go figure.)
Green - environmentalists - so God-knows where they would fit

There are other fringe parties (the Green is considered fringe as well).

Viewpoints:

The Liberals present themselves as representative of all Canadians, but hardly are. The primary power base is in central Ontario. They very rarely win any seats west of Ontario. They have been entrenched in power far too long and have grown both arrogant and corrupt. Though, to hear some of the slack-jawed yokels, you wouldn't think so.

The Conservatives are newly formed from the demise of the old Progress Conservatives and the Reform party. For the most part, this party believes in fiscal conservatism. Hard to say how they would handle themselves if they won. They do want to re-open the gay marriage debate, ostensibly to give the members of parliament a chance on a free vote, which was denied them by the Liberals (i.e. the Liberals forced all their members to toe the party line). The Liberals try to claim that the Conservatives have a "hidden agenda"...whatever that is. This is how the Liberals win...vague innuendo to frighten the morons.

The NDP: pie-in-the-sky socialists. Pro-unionists with no real plan. They like to promise to throw money around, but kind of keep quiet when asked from where the money would come...can you say "TAXATION OVERLOAD"?

The Bloc Quebecois - as odd as it sounds, I have more respect for their leader than any of the others. He basically is quite up-front about his goals. This party is strictly regional.

My hope:

Now, barring a Conservative majority, I would like to see a minority Conservative government with the Bloc working with them. Odd as that sounds, it would be representative of most of the country. Unlike an Ontario-based Liberal government.