Monday, April 4, 2011

Elections in Canada

I've been trying for a while to write a post on the upcoming elections in my country. However, I have to confess that I have been away from Canada for a while now and feel rather out of touch with its political scene. Canada has been impacted by the global financial crisis a lot less than the US*. Housing prices dropped a little for a while, but then started showing signs of growth again. In Quebec, real estate prices were never as inflated as in the US, of course, which made the drop in value of real a state a lot less dramatic. 

In terms of employment, there was a moment when people started getting laid off and finding a new job was difficult. Now, however, things seem to be back to normal. My sister, who lives in Montreal, felt so comfortable about the business of recruiting people that she left a very high-paying position with a well-established company to start her own recruiting company. 

Unlike the American shoppers, the Québécois customers still consume like there is no tomorrow. The last time that I visited Montreal I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that stores, coffee-shops and restaurants were filled with people to the extent where you could hardly get inside. 

Of course, even though Canada got through the crisis with relatively few losses (compared to the US), there are still massive problems in the country. Canadians at large seem to be completely out of sync with the Conservative agenda of Harper's Tories. Canada's conservatives would be considered commie-pinko Liberals in the US. However, their views are still too medieval for the majority of the country's population. Still, Harper and Co managed to stay in power since 2006 because Canadians are sick and tired of the overblown, ridiculously huge federal government and of the endless and unashamed corruption of the Liberals**.  Now that it has become clear that the Tories have no intention (or no wherewithal, as the case may be) to either avoid being as corrupt as the Liberals or to get the unwieldy government apparatus under control, new elections loom on the horizon.

Liberals have promised really fantastic things in their election platform. Huge amounts of money for education, creation of new professorial positions, and daycare services caught my attention. Are these promises enough, however, to attract voters to the Liberals' side? Is there a viable alternative to the Conservatives versus Liberals dichotomy that has plagued the political scene of both the US and Canada?

Please share your thoughts on the future of the best country in the world :-) whether you are Canadian or not.

* Most of my information is based on what is happening in Quebec and partly in Nova Scotia, which might not always be representative of the country at large, of course.

** As in every other post, I express my own views here. People might have a very different interpretation of what is going on in Canadian politics.


Pen said...

Reading this, I feel strangely off-balance. I'm not used to Canadian current-events; rather, I just finished a reading on Canadian affairs between the end of World War II and Vietnam. The contrast is strangely disorienting.

That said, I am unable to really comment. However, a question: do elections occur when the current government is voted out by Parliament? If so, then how does a minority government come into power?

Anonymous said...

I am not ax expert in the technicalities of the Canadian political system, but:

Elections are called if the Parliament votes out the minority government or if the minority or majority government decides so.

A minority government comes into power if it is not voted out by the other parties with seats at the parliament. The other parties could agree to form a coalition, but the last word on that belongs to the General Governor of Canada, a viceregal figure that represents her majesty the Queen of England. Her vive-majesty Michaelle Jean (the former GG) decided after the last election that the centre-left coalition could not form a government of coalition, which means that the Conservative party (minority government) governed until the Parliament finally decided to vote it out two weeks ago.

This may seem confusing, and people may explain it way better than I did.

One more thing: many of us Canadians agree that our current political system is deeply flawed.