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A Tiny Tremor

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As some of you know, major news in Canada today, as the Flames win another round of the Battle of Alberta! Oh, yeah, and there was an election too, and as predicted there was a Conservative minority. As you can see from this handy interactive chart, it’s a surprisingly narrow win, and it will be an extremely shaky minority government. And as you can see, irrespective of whatever spin you read tomorrow, it’s not any kind of major “shift to the right” or embrace of American policies or some such. Between them, the centre -left (Canadian spelling used for the occasion!) Liberals, socialist NDP, and left-wing-albeit with an unpleasant coating of secessionism and ethnic nationalism–BQ and left-wing Greens got almost 65% of the vote and 183 of 308 seats. What limited the Conservatives most were gains by the NDP. (Although, in fairness, the Christian Heritage Party did outpoll the Marijuana Party.) And obviously the Conservative government will be seriously constrained, especially on cultural issues, because they require to support of the secessionists to govern. The election is unlikely to result in any huge shifts, and as someone with a less-than-robust commitment to big-L Liberalism I’m not excessively upset about it.

One thing that many people won’t be aware of is that Canada is different from most European systems in true coalition governments (i.e. formal alliances with members from both parties in the cabinet) have generally been limited to wartime unity governments; rare minority governments have been ad hoc rather than formal coalitions. The Conservatives don’t need a formal coalition with the Bloq to form the government, although they will have to engage in constant informal agreements in order to govern. Another point is that Saskatchewan–home of the social democratic government that created the socialized medicine system–is now almost entirely conservative. Tom Frank should write his next book about it…

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