Tag Archives: Elections Canada

Coalition Calamity?

Well, yes, it was inevitable that I might have an opinion on the proposed coalition of the opposition parties in an overthrow of Canada’s minority government.

Minority governments always walk a tightrope. Stephen Harper tried to set the stage for the best time to hold our election. But that’s not unusual. Politicians and all people really try to work things to their advantage. But it didn’t work quite the way the Conservatives hoped. Yet again, another minority government.

This is not a good time for anyone moving into a position of government. Obama has his work cut out for him, picking up George Bush’s mess and the plummeting economy. But it’s the same here. Economy has moved to the forefront and Harper, with a minority government has a had lot. Yet, he has come across already as totalitarian and keeping such a tight leash on his MPs that they’re often crippled in making their decisions.

Then the new budget came, the tightening of the belt and the Conservatives seem to have made a fatal mistake. Many donations by companies to political parties have been severely limited. It makes sense because these factors could unfairly influence (bribe) a party in power to consider their wishes. When the Conservatives said they would cut public funding to the parties, it seemed the last straw. Here are the pertinent bits about funding from the Elections Canada website: http://www.elections.ca/content

The legislation was rooted in the belief that the primary source for contributions to political parties and candidates should be individuals giving relatively small amounts, as opposed to larger donations. The new regulations, therefore, stipulated that each elector could contribute up to a total of $5,000 a year to the electoral district associations, nomination contestants and candidates of a registered political party, while donations to these entities from corporations and trade unions were limited to $1,000. Furthermore, while individuals could contribute directly to the registered party, corporations and unions could not. To police the new rules, the act also stipulated that candidates and parties should disclose contribution information within a set period of time after an election, and leadership contestants should do so during and after a leadership contest.

As a counterbalance to the new contribution limits, however, Bill C-24 also introduced significant ongoing public financing for political parties. These provisions entitled any party receiving a minimum percentage of the popular vote in a general election to an annual public allowance proportional to its share of votes. The concept was not new – both the Barbeau Committee in 1966 and the Lortie Commission in 1992 acknowledged that funding for political parties through direct public subsidies was a good idea. Bill C-24 introduced annual allowances, recognizing that parties should be compensated for the loss of their customary funding stream from large corporate and union donations – and that the political party is arguably the focal point of a vibrant and viable democratic system.

Oops, the parties really didn’t like that. But there was some fast backtracking by the Conservatives and they said they would not lower public funding. But since the Liberals and NDP have tossed in their lot, they’re now steaming ahead saying there wasn’t a good economic package. And we’re off to the races.

Now the Bloc has thrown in with the Liberals and NDP to form a coalition government. But compare the Bloc to Judas or any other turncoat. They’re in it for themselves, not for the good of Canada. It’s the one biggest flaw in the coalition package. I think there should be a bill against allowing a party to run that has no federal or countrywide interests because the Bloc doesn’t care about any province but Quebec and they’re happy to use everything to their own advantage. Splitting up Canada doesn’t bother them because they think it will make Quebec stronger, not seeing the big shark that waits south of the border to gobble up the pieces of a dismembered nation.

They can be trusted to support a coalition as long as it serves them. Harper and the Conservatives are now taking out ads saying the other parties are conniving, stealing the leadership of the country, undermining our democracy. Though these moves are far from common, there is room in our constitution for such a coalition. I’m willing to see what happens. After all, Italy has had to function this way quite a few times. What I’m not for is public tax dollars going to any campaign for or against the coalition. The ads coming out that I couldn’t care less about better not be using public money but then if the parties are publicly funded, I guess it is, one way or the other.

The one thing all the political parties know is that if we went to another election we would make two records, The most federal elections in the shortest number of years, and the lowest voter turnout in Canada’s history. I for one don’t want to see more campaigning. I’m sick of it and campaigning for/against the coalition is not going to endear me to any party.

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Election Day

Well after a nice long weekend of ignoring the news completely, I also completely forgot about the election. But I have my little card and will be voting after work. I’ve been hearing how this year you need a piece of ID to be able to vote. It’s not been very clear as to whether you need this if you have the voter registration card. Spokespeople for Elections Canada have been saying it’s marked very clearly.

I’d certainly like to know where it’s marked clearly. The voter registration card is printed in maroon and white. Some parts have a maroon background, some on white. But with the overall two-tone color nothing stands out in particular. I’ve read it once and didn’t see this caveat to bring ID. I’m sure many other people will miss it if they haven’t heard it already. And this morning CBC talked about a guy who brought in his laptop with PDFs of his bills. This wasn’t good enough and he needed to have a printout. That doesn’t necessarily make it any more secure. But at least we’re not at the pregnant chad state of the US.

How will this election turn out? I think we may have another minority government but whether Liberal or Conservative, it’s hard to tell. The polls were showing a race getting closer and the NDP gaining a fair number of seats. Campaigning is outlawed on election day and I heard once that all campaign signs had to be down by that day though I’ve never seen this really carried out. The news stations are waiting with baited breath for the polling stations to close before they start reporting the news like some huge horse race. The wild speculation and criticism has stopped as those particular horses have been flogged to death.

Everyone gets three consecutive hours to vote so if the stations are open from 7am to 7 pm and you work 9 to 5, your employer must give you time off (either 7 am to 10 am or 4 pm to 7 pm) with pay. They are not allowed to intimidate you by law. I’ve seen the coercion happen in the past, in subtle ways sometimes but still a limiting of the legal time. You can check out legalities of the election at the Elections Canada website. It will even tell you if you can eat your ballot. (I kid you not.)

http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=faq&document=faqvoting&lang=e&textonly=false#voting26

But here it is, Tuesday morning, after a long weekend, our bellies filled with turkey and other thanksgiving equivalents. Somehow the price of gas went from $1.12/litre on Thursday to $1.21 this morning. What was the huge crisis this time? Another seasonal storm in a tropical clime? A shifting iceberg? A hangnail? An impending election? The birth of another child? Price of oil is dropping they say but the manipulation of our pocketbooks on a daily basis hasn’t. I guess that will be save for the next election, or the one after that.

Soon it will be back to the usual, another government, another pack of unfulfilled promises. And the world continues.

 

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