Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Benefit of a "False Majority"

Lots of pearl clutching regarding how the Liberal majority isn't based on a majority of the popular vote.  While that may be the case and relevant for a discussion of electoral reform, I find this story to be an indication of how probable a constitutional crisis would have been if there were a Liberal or NDP minority victory.
If he’s set on swearing in his new cabinet as planned next Wednesday, Justin Trudeau may have to do something he likely thought had dropped off his to-do list forever: namely, call on Stephen Harper to resign — not publicly, necessarily, and with the greatest possible respect for the outgoing leader, but definitively.
Or, if he has indeed done so, make a public announcement to that effect.
Because at the moment, it doesn’t appear that Harper has formally served notice to Governor General David Johnston — or anyone else — that he will voluntarily cede power to the incoming Liberal government next week. No official notice has been released to the media, or posted to the Rideau Hall website, nor has Harper’s office issued a statement confirming that he will resign.
Yes, yes, after the non-resignation story was published, there was a less than definitive commitment to resign:
Shortly after this story went out, the governor general’s senior communications advisor Marie-Eve Letourneau got in touch to say that, “in keeping with Canadian practice,” Harper “signified his intention to resign when he visited the Governor General at Rideau Hall immediately following the election,” although he won’t formally do so until Nov. 4, “just prior to the swearing-in of the new ministry.”
She also said that the governor-general met with Trudeau following the election as well.
What we still don’t know, however, is why the process has been conducted in such a clandestine fashion, without even an after-the-fact advisory that these meetings had taken place. There is also some uncertainty around whether that secrecy is, as Letourneau put it, “in keeping with Canadian practice.”
It would be a hypothetical bet, but if Harper lost to a minority, who would put money on him actually resigning without a messy fight (or at least a hissy fit).  The quirkiness of our system might have saved us from a big problem.Recommend this Post

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, he could have tried to hang on to power if the Liberals had only won a minority. That was what a number of people had speculated. The Liberal "majority" would appear to have ended that on Oct. 19.

However, don't forget that Harper, and also, Trudeau, had both been on record (their respective CBC interviews with Mansbridge) as saying, wrongly, as it turned out, that the party that wins the plurality of seats would get the first chance to form a government. It was wrong because in a minority government situation, it is the incumbent government, not the one that wins the plurality, that gets first kick at the can at forming government. Harper had even followed his wrong allegation by saying that he would not form government if he came out second.

Therefore, even if the election had been run under PR (Proportional Representation) instead of FPTP (First past the post) rules, the Liberals would still have won the most number of seats (at 134 instead of 184). The Conservatives, on the other hand, would have won 108 seats under PR instead of 99. Thus going by Harper's own words, he would not have stayed on because he would still have come out second even under PR.

So, I am not sure exactly how strong the benefit of the false majority was ... Harper could have played dirty regardless (you yourself have pointed out that even with the "majority", no one knows if Harper had actually resigned or not). Thus it would appear to be pointless to speculate what Harper would or would not have done if the Liberals had not won a false majority.