By Jay Menard
In theory, a minority government should offer the best of all worlds. In today’s reality, though? A minority government may be nothing more than a quaint idea that had its day.
A minority government requires parties working together, compromising, and finding solutions that benefit a wider swath of Canadian. Today’s hyperpartisan reality may preclude that from happening. We can’t even get partisans to acknowledge or listen to each other — how are they going to effectively communicate?
It may all be moot, though, as this is a minority in name only. There’s nothing to prevent the Liberal government from continuing to govern with arrogance and presumption. Really there’s no deterrent.
You can look at the election results as an indication that we are a country divided, with a wide variety of perspectives. If ever there was an election that showed that proportional representation is the way to go, this is it.
But good luck trying to get that back on the mandate. Sure, it was the key plank of the Liberal platform back in 2015, but when as they won last night’s election with a lower share of the popular vote than the Conservatives (33.05 per cent to 34.4 per cent), there’s really no motivation to fix a system that gets them the results they want, is there?
And, as an aside, I’ll be interested to see how many of those left-leaning people who loved to point out the 2016 U.S. Presidential election popular vote result share the same opinion north of the 49th now that it’s worked in their favour.
Jagmeet Singh may have talked tough about his commitment to ending first past the post, but when push comes to shove, the NDP — and, really, all opposition parties, are not going to bring down this Liberal government any time soon. The Liberals can continue to govern with impunity, knowing that while they need other parties’ support, the other parties need a stable government more.
After all, principles only go as far as the dollar will stretch, and none of the other parties are in a financial (or cultural) position to go in another election. It would be great if these parties lived up to their ideals, but the balance sheets offer a flimsy foundation at this moment.
And the Bloc? It’s just happy not to rock the boat. Its rebranding (minimizing the whole separation talk) has worked and it is content with its position in parliament, able to effectively push forward a pro-Quebec agenda.
Sure, there’s the threat at any time that this Parliament can be dissolved and cast us back into another election, but that’s at least two years down the road. The Liberals could actually use that as a threat — do the Conservatives really want to run another election with Scheer at the helm? Can they balance a leadership review and an election? Is Singh safe? The NDP’s 24 seats represents a drop from 44 in 2015 — and a far cry from the halcyon days of 2011 when Jack Layton rode the Orange Wave to 95 seats and official opposition status. Can Singh convince people that he is the Kingmaker in this Parliament? Will the Liberals let him, or will they call his bluff, knowing that the war chest is empty?
If anything, the large-L Liberals should be humbled by this result. They won’t be, but they should. It’s easy to dismiss opposition as populism instead of looking at what may actually be the result (and it’s important to watch the Ontario provincial Liberal leadership race for this as well — have they been humbled by their decimation at the hands of the Conservatives, or will they simply revert to the same old politics, arrogance, and sense of entitlement that has turned off voters.)
In an ideal world, we got a great result — one where all the parties have to work together to affect change that matters to a wider population. In reality, I fear we have more of the same and the rhetoric won’t hold up to partisanship.
It may be an unpopular opinion, but popularity — especially in votes — doesn’t really matter, now, does it?