We have another election upon us here in Canada. For those unfamiliar with our system of government, it’s parliamentary, and modeled on the British system. One of the many consequences of that is that a political party can form the government without having an outright majority. Later, if the minority parties band together, they can kick the governing party out. Technically, the government no longer "has the confidence of the house". They can’t pass any bills, because the opposition will block them.
That’s what happened on Monday night. The Conservatives, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois voted to censure the Liberal government, giving notice that they would no longer support the governing party. Yesterday morning, Paul Martin, the Liberal leader, went to the Governor General and asked her to dissolve parliament.
Over the last little while, ordinary Canadians have been doing a lot of talking about this. While I was in Toronto last week, before the dissolution of Parliament, this topic came up over and over. Most people can’t see the logic to what the opposition parties have done. Polls show public opinion little changed from the last election, with the Liberals still holding on to a small lead over the Conservatives.
Strategically, it seems a risky bet. The Bloc will certainly make gains in Quebec, at the expense of the Liberals. Here in Ontario, people are going to either hold their noses and vote Liberal, or there will be a wave of strategic voting for the NDP. I don’t believe that the Conservatives will make any gains.