A quick note to all of the whiners out there who consider the formation of a coalition of the opposition parties to be in some way illegal or undemocratic, I give you, in the words of the Compendium of House of Commons Procedure:
By constitutional convention, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are able to exercise authority only with the consent and approval (“confidence”) of a majority of the Members of the House of Commons. Should the Government lose the confidence of the House, the Prime Minister must submit his or her resignation to the Governor General, who either calls an election, or, much more rarely, invites the leader of another party in the House to attempt to form a government.
The confidence convention is a matter of parliamentary practice and tradition that is not written into any statute or Standing Order of the House, nor is it a matter on which the Speaker can rule. However, confidence motions are generally considered to be:
- explicitly worded motions which state, in precise terms, that the House of Commons has, or has not, confidence in the government;
- motions expressly declared by the government to be questions of confidence;
- implicit motions of confidence, that is, motions traditionally deemed to be questions of confidence, such as motions for the granting of Supply (although not necessarily an individual item of Supply), motions concerning the budgetary policy of the government and motions respecting the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Prime Monster Harper set himself up for this by defying the opposition parties and proposing such wildly innapropriate measures (and non-measures, in the case of the economy), and proclaiming them confidence motions. Past experience has shown that the other parties would be likely to lose the staring contest – in fact, the Liberal Party has been blinking like a Tourette’s patient for some time now. However, now the power play has gone too far, so the Conservatives are whining because the big kids have taken their ball away from them.
As far as undemocratic goes, here’s the thing: the Canadian public, to whom Parliament is responsible (not the other way around), elected each and every member of the current Parliament. All of ’em. You heard it here first. And, most importantly, it elected more people who were not conservatives than were conservatives.
Aha! Now we reach the realization point – a majority of Parliament are not Conservative, therefore, that majority, if Parliament is dissolved through a vote of non-confidence (however capricious), has the right to attempt to govern. It is, in fact, more democratic than the system usually is.
My point is, however ignorant the populace may be (and I am probably more upset about that than anything) about the rules of parliament, we all agreed upon them before starting this whole thing, and we should not be complaining because we are abiding by them – and it’s even more childish to object just because you are losing.
It’s a Freely-Elected Flash Fact.