Dear Conservatives: Please Stop the Whining

Dear Conservative Party, can we stop throwing the word “democracy” around like a football please? Is that okay? You know how the Westminster Parliamentary system works: You know it’s not about who “got elected” but that it’s about “who can form a government”. If the people had given you a majority you could steam-roll everyone as you please. But the people in their infinite wisdom (I’ll go along with the trope for a moment, but there’s some bile rising here) decided not to. So that means that you get to form a minority government.

Seats in Parliament are what matters, not which single party got the most votes in the election. We don’t have a presidential-style system where the guy rules as long as he gets the most votes. If the Conservatives have the most seats, but not 50% + 1 of the seats, they form a minority government. If the Liberals and NDP get together and form a coalition, they suddenly have more seats and they can form the government. This is called “having the confidence of the House”, and if the ruling party doesn’t have that confidence, then the ruling party falls and is replaced by another party or coalition that does have the confidence of the house.

This is why, for those Canadians who seem too dense to understand this, we have a Governor-General. She’s there to oversee and make judgment on abnormal situations like this. She’s the ultimate arbiter of our democracy… and she wasn’t even elected. Gasp! Horror! She doesn’t have to answer to the people of Canada — she has to answer to the Constitution, the Ministers of the government, and (theoretically) the Crown. (Not to mention that the Senate isn’t elected either. Gasp! Horror!) She’s there so that, for instance, a Prime Minister can’t just dissolve Parliament and call an election every time he gets a vote in the House that he dislikes. You can google the King-Byng affair for a time when the Governor-General did just that.

The Governor-General is going to be making some interesting decisions. But there’s nothing back-door or anti-democratic about the proposed coalition between the Liberals and the NDP. It’s how the Parliamentary system was designed to work. The opposition doesn’t like a heavy-handed minority government, and doesn’t feel like being jerked around for the next three years with a confidence motion attached to every bill, budget, and bulletin that gets tabled in the House? Well, they’re free to topple the government.

There’s nothing anti-democratic about it. And if the people of Canada really feel like this is a bad idea, they’re going to punish the NDP and the Liberals in the next election. Which, of course, there will always be. A next election.

In the meantime, the Conservatives can jolly well stop their whining, and stop their deceitful attack ads. The Governor-General doesn’t make her decisions based on what the people think, okay?