It’s ok to be opinionated. Just don’t be misinformed.

For those who a) don’t live in Canada, or b) have been doing the ostritch lately, we are on the brink of a coalition government taking power from the Conservatives. They formed a second straight minority government (after the Liberals had one of their own) following an election at the end of October.

Now, Conservatives are understandably enraged at the prospect of being bounced from power after a political gamble gone wrong. And I understand that politicians (to put it mildly) have a unique talent for aligning the facts they need to make their message work. I don’t begrudge this and it certainly isn’t a skill unique to any one party of ideological affiliation.

But as a student of history as well as communications, I really, really hate lies and misinformation. It undermines the public’s faith in politics and it does a disservice to the democracy you purport to defend.

Say what you will about the tactics employed by the opposition to assemble this coalition, but for the love of Pete, can we get a few things straight?

  • Stephen Harper was not elected to be the Prime Minister. Similarily, Stephane Dion was not rejected by 70-whatever-percent of the electorate. Unlike our neighbours to the south, we do not vote for PM here. We vote for a candidate in our riding. The candidates in each riding are elected to the House. The party with the most seats in the House is invited to form a government; the leader of that party is then sworn in as PM. In the case of the coalition, they have agreed to work together. This coalition now has the most seats in the House. The leader of said coalition should be invited to form a government if Harper’s government falls.
  • The separatist party will not be part of the government. Gilles Duceppe was clear on this point from the start. The Bloc has agreed to support the coalition’s economic plan. That’s it. Beyond the economic plan, every caucus will be free to vote as it sees fit. The government will be made of Liberals and NDP’ers but the Bloc’s involvement goes no further than supporting the economic plan. Would the Conservatives have rejected the Bloc if it decided to support the fiscal update and keep the government afloat? Of course not, in a minority parliament you have to make concessions to other parties. The Bloc may want to separate from Canada (a position I wholeheartedly condemn) but until it succeeds it represents Canadians. Every single voter in each riding the Bloc represents is a Canadian and they deserve equal representation in Parliament no matter what their political leanings.

There. Now debate until your heart’s content. I personally love the idea of a coalition but mostly because I studied political history and I am curious to see how it plays out. I have no problem with people who oppose it but I DO take issue with those who base their opposition on misinformation.


  1. Thank you.
    All I’ve been able to get out all day is: “But…They don’t….That’s not how it works!”

  2. Unfortunately there are a significant number of Canadians, perhaps even Members of Parliment, who do not understand the structure of the Canadian democratic system.
    The media must also share some blame, as much as it pains me to say that. I have heard far too many references to this as a constitutional crisis. There is no constiutional crisis here, it is very simple: Harper must face a vote of confidence in the House. If he does not have the confidence, then the Governor General can ask the opposition to form a government or call an election.
    Clearly we need parlimentary reform to either remove the powers of the Governor General or solidfy them. Not to mention an educational system at the secondary school level that actually educates our future electorate on the subject.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *