Canadian Coup


There is, as I write this, an attempt to overthrow our Canadian government. The 3 parties that lost in our October 13 election, the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois, are attempting to join in a "coalition" to defeat the party that which currently holds power, the Conservatives. The way our electoral system works, the party with the most seats in parliament, holds power and declares who the Prime Minister will be. This is all well and good, unless the winning party does not make up more than half of those seats. If you have the most seats, but that number is fewer than half of the seats in parliament (which equals 308), then you comprise a minority government. If you have the most seats and have more than half of those seats, then you comprise a majority government.

There are pro's and con's to each type of government. If the Liberals had been stuck with a minority government throughout their tenure in office, they probably would not have been able to pass the silly Firearms Act (Bill C-68), that currently exists. With the Conservatives currently in a minority position, they are not able to pass legislation they feel necessary for the country.


Politics: coup d'état
(kooh day-tah)

A quick and decisive seizure of governmental power by a strong military or political group. In contrast to a revolution, a coup d'état, or coup, does not involve a mass uprising. Rather, in the typical coup, a small group of politicians or generals arrests the incumbent leaders, seizes the national radio and television services, and proclaims itself in power. Coup d'état is French for “stroke of the state” or “blow to the government.”

Here's where the coup comes into play. 3 out of the 4 parties, currently in parliament have decided to join forces to overthrow the Conservatives and replace Prime Minister Harper with their own. This came just after the Conservatives introduced a bill which would have eliminated "welfare" for politicians. The welfare I speak of is the funding, provided to the political parties, which costs the taxpayers approximately $30 Million CAD per year. The bill would have removed this funding from the picture and forced the parties to find sponsors who actually believe in what the parties are selling, through private donations. That makes sense. The Liberals and NDP, being the money and power hungry parties that they are, fought back saying it wasn't fair and continued whining until the bill was pulled. The Conservatives seem to be trying to keep the voters from being forced into, yet another, election.

So, it falls like this:

  1. Conservatives introduce bill to save taxpayer's money by not spending it on political parties.
  2. Left wing parties realize they might actually have to get up and work for their money and start whining about how it's "not fair".
  3. In an effort to retain the confidence of the house and not for the citizens into another election, the Conservatives pull the bill to be considered at a later time.
  4. Left wing parties realize that the Conservatives are a threat to their source of power and money and decide to join forces to overthrow the elected government and gain power and control.

This hasn't gone unnoticed or without consequence, though, by the Canadian people. An Ipsos Reid survey found that 62% of Canadians were angry at the coalition for attempting to remove the Conservatives from power without an election. We did, after all, put the Conservatives into power, on a leash. The voters decided that they trusted the Conservatives a little more and gave them a little more power. The voters seem to still be a little iffy in giving any party a majority, though, after the long reign of Liberal majority corruption and free for all spending. The next election, depending on the Conservative's performance from October on, may have put them into a majority position. Last time the Liberals angered the Canadian people, they were dealt a crushing defeat. Seems like they're looking for another one.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the situation. Feel free to post yours below!


  1. There has been no attempted coup, no attempted overthrow, and no attempted ouster of the current government. Creating a formal coalition is perfectly legal, perfectly constitutional and perfectly in keeping with the Canadian parliamentary tradition. You may find it politically unpalatable, but so what? Most writers be far better off thinking critically of the subject than simply parroting lines from the CPC, Liberal or NDP web sites

    The argument that constitutional convention requires the government to be formed by the party (singular) holding the most seats is a non-starter. It is simply not true. A coalition of smaller parties representing more seats is a viable and legitimate alternative.

    That said, what is unconventional, and to my knowledge, new, is that two parties with the fewer seats than the current government, offering itself as an alternative to a sitting government that has just won more seats in an election. That is unprecedented. The Liberals and NDP are spinning this as a non-partisan pact between two parties. Since the Bloc would not in fact be sitting on the government side or taking ministerial positions, the formal coalition is between just two parties, but only on paper.

    However, to survive the coalition is a de-facto trilateral arrangement between the Liberals, NDP and Bloc. What has gone unsaid is more important than what has been promised...what is the ultimate price? This is a legitimate concern. Nothing is ever free in politics. Better a formal three-way agreement than not.

    While the PM has chosen to burn his bridges in Quebec by denouncing a deal with the “separatists” (at the same time softening his words in French), it should be pointed out that the Bloc has more support from non-separatist voters in Quebec than most realize. The hardcore separatist movement in Quebec is, at best, about 20% of the electorate. The majority who voted for the Bloc in October did so because of a lack of alternatives (much like Chretien's victories in the 1990s).

    A formal, tripartite agreement including the Bloc would, in the long run, be better at moderating separatist sentiment in Quebec and within the Bloc then allowing the Bloc to remain aloof or as a power broker. Why? Because immersing regionalist MPs in the minutiae of federal government means that local or regional concerns tend to be subsumed by national questions and policy (although never completely). The evolution of the Reform movement to the CPC is evidence enough of this trend.

    I also think your position regarding the subsidization of political parties as "welfare" is misguided (arguing that such a move was for economic relief rather than cynical political gain is demonstrably naive). It is better that a political party be subsidized by the public purse than by a biased, issue-based third-party. Think PACs in the US for example. Public subsidies allow political parties to broaden their policies by disengaging the parties from the means of their support. For one example, freeing the NDP from union-based support has allowed the party to engage a broader section of the Canadian electorate than it has previously, although it has not taken full advantage of such freedom. The party, under its current leadership, has chosen to remain far left of centre.

    That said, I would like to see the Canada Election Act amended so that public support hinged not simply on the percentage of popular vote - a high enough barrier for new entrants - but required registered political parties to run candidates in at least seven out of 10 provinces representing 50% of the Canadian population to qualify. It is a national government and subsidization should reflect a party’s attempt at national campaigns. Regionalism ought to be discouraged. The Bloc has had success as a regional party and has been amply rewarded as such as a party and financially under the current rules. Under such an amendment, the Bloc would either have to forgo public finance entirely and rely on private donations or whither and die. Either would be preferable.

    — pcourterelle Sun, 14 Dec 2008

  2. I appreciate the input. I will, respectfully, disagree on a few points, though.

    You may find it politically unpalatable, but so what? Most writers be far better off thinking critically of the subject than simply parroting lines from the CPC, Liberal or NDP web sites.

    First, I am not parroting any party's line. If you've read any of my site, you should know that I am not associated with any of the 3 parties. I am, however, a member of the Libertarian Party, which is in another direction entirely. Yes, I much prefer the CPC's policies over the likes of the NDP or Liberals. They aren't my party of choice, though.

    This site is of my opinions and that is what I posted. I enable the comments so that I can hear what other people think, as well. If I didn't want to hear it, I'd just disable the comments. I do appreciate your input and, as always, will take them into consideration in making my own mind up.

    Secondly, I never said it was illegal. The definition I showed above says:

    A quick and decisive seizure of governmental power by a ... political group ....

    It is, in a sense, mutiny. The Liberals and NDP are nothing more than poor losers in this situation. How many people out there vote for the NDP, simply because they know the NDP won't get into power and it's their "throw away vote"? I don't agree with it, but I disagree with a lot of things people do.

    As to the political welfare. That's exactly what it is. There is some truth that people with money would support their parties, and to some effect, the legislation being put in effect. However, if it were a true free market where laws didn't affect how people did business, the people with money would have no, proverbial, "ledge to stand on". They could back whatever political party they want, but a, constitutionally limited, government would not be able to afford them any special rights. This is what I see as ideal. I do not, under any circumstances, want my taxes to go to funding the Liberals, the NDP, the Marxist-Leninists, or the BQ. Nor do I want to fund the Conservatives, for that matter. I am not given the choice, though.

    There was, at one point, a minimum level before the parties were given public funding. I believe it was 50 candidates running and a 2% support of the popular vote. It was, however, struck down as unconstitutional. Small parties, as valid as they can be, just don't have the funds to compete with the larger, well established parties. They cannot get the funding they need from private sources, they are limited to $1000 from any one source. Until they get the funding they need to get their names out there to the Canadian public, they are severely handicapped.

    All that said, though, I do appreciate your comments. No two people are going to agree 100% on the, many, issues at hand. I do hope to see you commenting on this site again. It's nice to have opposing thoughts to run my own ideals against.

    Tyler Sun, 14 Dec 2008

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