Sunday, September 13, 2015

On simplified procedures

Following up on this post, let's also note how the right answer from Canada's opposition parties could combine with the seeming agreement between the major party leaders as to the "most seats first" principle to take nearly all of the guesswork out of a post-election minority Parliament.

Again, the range of possible outcomes absent some consensus between the parties as to what should happen next would be virtually infinite. The Cons would be entitled to hang onto power without meeting Parliament for an extended period of time, and could play all kinds of games in seeking to avoid votes even after reconvening it. And even if Stephen Harper stepped down willingly, there would be potential for mischief and confusion among the other parties: would anybody want to see the result if, say, Justin Trudeau followed a distant third-place finish by declaring that he wouldn't support anybody else, but would be willing to govern if somebody else propped the Libs up?

But "yes" answers from the NDP and Libs to the two questions would resolve effectively all of those issues, particularly if it was taken as agreed that the first (and follow-up) chance to govern would go to the party with the most seats.

If a majority of MPs in the House had resolved to vote down the Harper Cons at the first opportunity, there would be no purpose to any attempt to drag out the process. And if the opposition parties had agreed that the leader of the party with more seats would receive at least the initial opportunity to become PM with the other's support, then there would be no fear of post-election games in determining who (if anybody) could win the confidence of the House - leaving any post-election negotiations to the question of what policies to pursue after a throne speech had passed and a new government was in place.

Unfortunately, we can't take for granted what the answers would actually be. But it's well worth seeing if we can get the parties promising change to at least agree on a clean process to achieve it.

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