February 21st, 2020

Canadians will be watching closely

By Letter to the Editor on October 30, 2019.

We have entered a into a new phase in Canada’s political history as for the first time we have two large ongoing separatist movements. In the west, the Wexit reaction due to alienation, and in the east with the macabre revival of the Bloc Quebecois, once thought to be dying.

We have a government with the lowest vote percentage in Canadian history and, as far as I’m aware, only the second time a party that has won the popular vote ended up losing the election based on geographical seat distribution.

We have a minority government with its power based in the 905, the Maritimes and a few seats in downtown Vancouver.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has often been criticized for his poor house attendance, overly aggressive PMO rule and celebrity style of premiership.

These traits, while suited to a strong, patronage-based majority government, will not serve him well in a minority. Minority rule requires attentiveness, co-operation, negotiating skills and most of all a healthy dose of realism. The shoe may not fit.

Historically minority governments in Canada have lasted fewer than two years. There are several different options available in governance.

Trudeau could form a confidence and supply with minor parties, accepting aspects of their manifestos and renegotiating terms of support, exposing his own areas of policy weakness and accepting a watering down of his own platform. This will be his preferred option I’m sure.

He could try to rule without formal arrangements, horse trading support on a bill-by-bill basis, and embracing some joint ventures. Hard and skillful work are perhaps not Trudeau’s area of expertise.

He could do a full blown coalition with a smaller group, appointing a kingmaker to a prominent cabinet role and inevitably damaging relations within a wing of his own party.

A prime example of recent coalition being the UK Con/Libdem coalition of 2010-15 which resulted in the smaller party being all but annihilated in the subsequent election, for the toss of a coin the larger party could of suffered the same fate.

The Westminster system rarely works in coalition form.

The coming days and weeks will prove pivotal in showing the populace what kind of leader we have placed back into 24 Sussex.

Ethics hearings, SNC-Lavalin, China, India trade, USMCA and all the other ongoing issues have not disappeared. This time, without total control of the House of Commons, the committees will not have Liberal majorities and will not shutdown issues at the whims of the PMO.

Tackling the two horses of western and eastern separation and bringing them to rein will require the consistent skills of a master operator, and a friendly hand to either side. No easy options, no quick costume change will solve this task.

Evasive answers will no longer suffice, the people have spoken, and we are watching very closely.

Myles Mulholland

Medicine Hat

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