Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canadian politics - The election 2006

There is a change of government in Canada.

After more than twelve years of liberal governments the conservative party will be in power in Canada. In the office of the Prime Minister there is also a change of generations.

Prime Minister Paul Martin (67) granted his defeat late Monday night in the parliamentary election and announced his resignation from the presidency of the liberal party. The conservative party under the leadership of 46-year-old economist Stephen Harper became the strongest political force.

The conservative party received 124 of the 308 seats in parliament, that are 26 more seats than so far.
The liberals supply only 103 delegates - 30 less than before. The separatist Bloc Quebecois gained 51, the left-wing oriented New Democratic Party 29 mandates.

According to an estimation of Canadian television stations Harper will form a minority government. It would be dependent on the support of the left opposition. A coalition government was considered as improbable in the capital Ottawa, because the differences between the parties are very large.

In Ottawa it is expected that Governor General Michaelle Jean will inaugurate Harper, the chief of the conservative party in two weeks. Jean represents the head of state of Canada, the British queen Elizabeth II. Harper wants to endeavor to a better relationship to the US government of president Bush.
The past head of the government Paul Martin had distinguished himself as decided critic of the Iraq war and the American climate policy. Harper would have liked to support the US in the Iraq war and is against obligatory approximate values concerning the fight of the greenhouse effect.
In addition he is sympathetic to the offer of the US to integrate Canada into its satellite-based anti-missile defense. He wants to abolish homosexual marriage introduced by Martin, too.

It is said that conservative boss Harper led an election campaign, in which he made hardly any mistakes and approached to the political center ground. In Québec the conservative go down well: They promise more money and more power for the provinces and even want to help Québec to get an own seat in international organizations.
On Monday night, Harper promised to get to work implementing his top campaign priorities. He said his first act in Parliament will be to propose a federal accountability act.
That will be followed by his plan to cut the GST, provide a child-care allowance to families, toughen criminal sentencing and establish a patient wait-time guarantee.

Martin's minority government fell in November 2005 in a vote of no confidence because of embezzlement of millions of public money by prominent members of the liberal party.


Blogger Steve said...

Hi Konrad,

Nice to see you're covering Canadian politics! A couple of points, though:

1. You say that Martin had distinguished himself as a critic of the Iraq war. In fact, it was his predecessor as Prime Minister, Liberal Jean Chrétien, who refused to participate in the invasion; it was widely speculated at the time that if Martin had been Prime Minister, he would have joined.

2. While Martin has been a critic of American climate change policy, his own was scarcely better: while the Liberals signed the Kyoto Accord, they did nothing to implement it. Canada's record on pollution is actually in many ways *worse* than that of the United States.

3. Harper may not need the support of the New Democrats - there is common ground on a variety of issues between himself and both the Liberals and the Bloc Québecois. It would not surprise me if, in the short term, we saw a sort of informal equivalent to the German SPD-CDU/CSU coalition, with the Liberals backing important Conservative legislation.

4. You may be wondering - certainly Catrin was - why it was immediately assumed that Harper would become Prime Minister, even though he controlled far less than hald of the House of Commons. In Canada, we have very little tradition of coalition governments (the last one was defeated in 1921), but a much stronger tradition of minority governments than does Germany (we usually have one every couple of decades). If Paul Martin had attempted to remain Prime Minister with NDP support, he would have been condemned as ignoring the wishes of the Canadian electorate, even though he would have been on perfectly safe constitutional ground.

Good post, though. I hear you named a bear after me.

12:15 AM  

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