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Canada settles for more of the same

International Politics, Politics
George Bush and what appears to be the prime minister of Canada

George Bush and what appears to be the prime minister of Canada

Reliable media reports now confirm that Canada held an election this week. Most Americans, upon hearing this news, would probably respond by asking: “the who did what now?” But it’s all true. Last Tuesday, Canadians from Gander to Whitehorse and several species in between emerged from their mud huts, their igloos, or their local Tim Horton’s so that they could trudge through a desolate wasteland of snow and ice and cast their ballots for the federal parliament. It was a thrilling spectacle of democracy and it meant, in the end, very little indeed.

After the 2006 federal election, the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper held 124 seats in the lower house of parliament. That made it the largest party in the parliament, but it fell 31 votes short of a majority. The Liberals, who had been in the majority for the previous twelve years, dropped to 103 seats. Two other parties, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois (BQ) made up the difference.

Now, in any other parliamentary democracy, after such an indecisive election the parties would start negotiating with each other in an attempt to form a coalition that could command a majority. Not so in Canada.

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