Minority vs. Majority Government

Minority vs. Majority Government

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Depending on who you are both a majority government and a minority government could either make or break the development of your country. A majority government is formed by one party who receives the majority vote over all other parties in the legislature. This government is able to pass legislation, make sure the House of Commons is able to function and can stay in power more easily then a minority government (Storm, 1999). Minority governments are single party that form a government without receiving the majority of seats in the legislature (Storm, 1999). A minority government has to make decisions with other parties and adjust policies to get enough votes from other parties to pass policies. They must constantly work to make sure the House of Commons is running smoothly to stay in power (Storm, 1999). Canadians struggle to decide which government is more productive and helpful to maintain the steadiness of our country. In Canada, we currently have a minority government which isn’t working what we need is a strong majority government.

On both sides of the political specturm they think it’s good to have minority governments, essentially because they can’t get too much done (McKelvy, 2009). They believe that as long as we have a minority government we can do whatever we want and Canada will do just fine (McKelvy, 2009). This is a skeptical and pessimistic view of how the federal government’s role is potrayed. The major weakness of minority a government is their tendency to last for only a short period. Governments are often unable to fully pursue their policies because other party’s will collapse before they can negotiate anything.. The average duration of minority governments in Canada is approximately 18 months (Gray, 2008). Minority governments have to negotiate with other parties regularly to get policies passed and it is difficult to bring consistency to government policy because it’s hard to get everyone to agree on policies. The party in charge may have to compromise with one party on one issue and then compromise with another party on a different issue (McKelvy, 2009). This can be a problem because government actions in one area can neglect government actions in another area. Inefficiency and the demand for negotiation can slow down the government immensely. Instead of being able to take swift action on demanding issues, governments are forced to engage in long and dull negotiation with other political parties (McKelvy, 2009). This can cause issues that require immediate action, such as policies and the budgets. Minority governments open the possibility for less responsibility (McKelvy, 2009). This is because the different parties are working together in making government policy. It can be difficult to locate blame when policy goes wrong, as the different parties may simply blame one another.

Long term success requires long term ideas and this is something, especially Harper’s minority government, cannot achieve because a minority government only lasts for a short period of time, so no decisions can be made (Collage, 2008). A minority government of Liberal, NDP or Conservatives is not acceptable. With a majority government they will be able to pass legislation with no problems and there will be more government intervention (Collage, 2008). The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have a lot of control over the government plans and policies. They can put forth whatever policy they like, and then they can ensure that those policies are supported in the House of Commons and then they can be passed into law (Collage, 2008). A majority government could formulate a plan that would be able to take action and a minority government would end up debating all day about how effective such actions might be instead of taking action. Canadian’s need a strong majority government ensure us of a Parliament that will work when it’s needed.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is our current prime minister and wants a majority government the next time the Canadians go to the polls for a federal election (Gray, 2008). Most Canadians are unsatisfied with Harper as their minority government and believe he would do poorly running under a majority government (Gray, 2008). Under a minority government Harper has been unable to do certain things that a majority government would be able to do and others would say he is just unfit to govern. The current minority government has caused the Parliament to become increasingly dysfunctional. Harper is governing like he has the majority and is trying to bully the opposition which is hurting the economic crisis we are in (Millard, 2009). Harper wanted to score political points by trying to eliminate public financing of political parties. That caused the opposition leaders to consider attempting to replace the government by forming a coalition. Harper could have cut public financing by more than half from 1.95 per vote to 0.95 per vote (Millard, 2009). This would have been the sensible thing to do in the current economic environment. A minority government won’t work if all of the parties don’t work together.

Harper made a mistake by appointing people to the senate when he said he wouldn’t. Harper promised to reform the senate and promised not to appoint any unelected Senators (Hogan, 2010). He acted hypocritically in appointing senators he said in the past he would not. He broke a promise he made and all the prime ministers promised they would not appoint any senators either. This shows that Harper is unable to keep a promise which means he could break any of his other ones. It’s harder running under a minority government because not only does Harper have to keep promises to the country, but he also has to keep promise to his opposing parties. Harper also refused to bail out failed industries after he gave more than 3 billion to rescue the auto sector (Ross, 2008). Harper said he would offer similar aid to the struggling mining and forestry industries in Januarys next month budget (Ross, 2010). There was no mention of support for resource industries in Harper’s recent Throne Speech or in its fiscal update last month. This provoked so much criticism that it led to the creation of the opposition collation and almost cost Harper its minority government.

Canada is sinking under Harpers debt even though has stated that he would not engage in deficit financing nor take on new debt (Valpy, 2009). According to Harper pump priming is a solution to the weakness in our economy (Valpy, 2009). Harper said he is going to spend tens of billion of dollars to try and pump money into the economy and Canada will have to endure large deficits along the way. In the 2008 election Harpers conservative government was already spending its way deeper into debt. A massive amount of 89.5 billion dollars was produced of financial requirement deficit (Valpy, 2009). By 2009 the federal government had already racked up 79.5 billion in new debt

financing (Valpy, 2009). A deficit of $33.7 billion for the 2010 fiscal year and $29.8 billion the following year is predicted (Valpy, 2009). Looking at the Conservatives report and observing their forecasts of budget deficits, it seems like these numbers could turn out to be bigger. Harper was predicting small surpluses for years coming and then predicted enormous ones. That leads me to believe these deficits could turn out to be much larger that we think. If the economy worsens beyond what is expected, this could end up being true.

Canadians are fed up with the repeated minority governments that keep occurring in the House of Commons. According to a poll conducted by Harris Decimal, 64 percent of Canadians want a majority government and 36 percent want a minority government (Howard, 2009). Even the people believe that their country is better off with a majority government then a minority government. It doesn’t look like Canada will be getting a majority government anytime soon due to the Bloc Quebecois party. Gilles Duceppe argued that a Conservative majority would be bad for Quebec and only his party can stop that from happening (Howard, 2009). The Bloc Quebecois party wants to stop a majority government from occurring by getting everyone in Quebec to vote for there party which will not allow Canada to be under a majority government. Harper said “if the Conservatives don’t succeed in getting a majority he predicted the Liberals will govern in a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois” (Howard, 2009). “If they get together and force us to the polls, we have to teach them a lesson and get back there with a majority, and make sure their little coalition never happens,” Harper said. (Howard, 2009) The Liberals claim that this shows that Harper doesn’t want to work with the other parties in

Parliament (Howard, 2009). I see a coalition government of the NDP and Bloc as a desperate grab for power; I think it’s also a reflection of the genuine frustration with

the current hopelessness of our government. The Liberal party have said they want to make sure that the Conservative party is not in power anymore (Howard, 2009). This shows that a majority government will never work; we need one person governing our country. We will never have a minority government if ever party is not working together because the population will disperse themselves to one party and no party will ever get the majority votes.

Instead of continuing with the government’s approach to Senate reform, we should try to create a body of government that can really watch the House of Commons and monitor what is happening. We could do this by using a system of proportional representation to elect members and to create a Senate that has equality and an effective body that would provide a number of benefits (Kline, 2009). First, it would allow a different diversity of parties to be able to represent themselves in Parliament (Kline, 2009). Votes that are wasted on small parties like the Greens or Bloc Quebecois could give their support to majority governments in the House of Commons and also giving small parties a voice in the Senate. Second, it would allow the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to run the country as a dictatorship if they were given the majority in the House of Commons (Kline, 2009). This would mean a less interfering government because it would make it harder for the Parliament to pass legislation on immediate impulse and it would allow Canadians to have a greater say in the future of their country.

Furthermore, what our country needs is a majority government. Minority governments get nowhere because the opposition parties and the prime minister are always bullying each other. As I have stated in my essay Stephan Harper has caused a lot of problems because he is ruling as a majority government even though he is running

under a minority government. Canadian majorities are clearly more productive legislatively than minorities. According to the history of past government the rate that bills were passed in a majority government were 20 per cent higher than in minority governments (Gray, 2009). Majority status appears to have a significant effect on both productivity and success. Canadians are growing tired of minority governments, so why is it that we keep voting for different political parties where we are unable to obtain a majority government?


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Hogan, James. “CBC News.” Harper names 5 to Senate. N.p., 29 Jan 2010. Web. 23 Mar 2010.

Howard, Cody. “CTV News.” Canadians grow weary of minority governments. CTV globe media, 13 July 2009. Web. 22 Mar 2010. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/storyv2/CTVNews/20090713/minority_govenment_090713?s_name=&no_ads=

Kline, Jesse. “The Shotgun Blog.” Canadians want a majority government. N.p., 07 May 2009. Web. 24 Mar 2010.

McKelvy, Andrew. “Minority Government in Canada: Impediment to, or Impotence Against, the Government’s Legislative Agenda?.” Conference Papers — Midwestern Political Science Association (2009): 1. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

Millard, Gregory. “Stephen Harper and the Politics of the Bully.” Dalhousie Review 89.3 (2009): 329-336. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

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Ross, Laura. “CTV News.” Harper McGuinty announce $4B auto bailout package. N.p., 20 Dec 2008. Web. 23 Mar 2010.

Storm, Kaare. Government and Majority Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 45-90.

Valpy, Michael. “Globe and Mail.” Ignatieff blasts Harper’s deficit games. N.p., 23 Jan 2009. Web. 23 Mar 2010.