Yearning for May 3rd - an American's view

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I am not the most up-to-date, knowledgeable person when it comes to politics - in Canada or the U.S. Many of my reasons for not following it closely are detailed in what you’re about to read. Beyond that, I simply don’t have an interest beyond knowing who stands for what and voting for the one I agree with. (Or disagree with the least, which is actually more common.) As a non-citizen in Canada, I am not permitted to vote, which affects my interest level as well. I may over-simplify some of the issues to keep this brief, but just know that I am aware that it’s more complex than I’m stating in certain cases. Chalk up errors to my status of still learning how all of this works in Canada.

On Friday afternoon, Canada’s parliament voted 156 to 145 in favour of a non-confidence motion against the Conservative (minority) government that has been in power for the last five years. This vote has triggered Canada’s fourth federal election in the last 7 years at a cost of roughly $300 million per election. 

Rumours have been going around for weeks about an election coming. But this week you couldn’t miss the glee people had about the government falling to this non-confidence vote. Many Canadians on twitter, which is often where I see news, were expressing their personal opinions about the government and their happiness that an election is going to happen.

While I can understand not wanting an elected official(s) in power that you don’t agree with or you feel has lied, I’m floored at the personal attacks and the joy over having our tax dollars spent once again on an election - the outcome of which is in no way certain! I’m not going to get into all the ins and outs and commentary on who will/won’t win and the various possibilities, but unless there is a huge movement to change a lot of people’s minds, we could very well end up yet another ineffective minority government and even more divisiveness.

Ironically, many people are commenting that they’re dissatisfied with how little Prime Minister Harper’s government has done. That’s all well and good to say, but minority governments are often powerless to do anything because the numbers simply aren’t in their favour. If I remember correctly - and I may not - this would be the 5th election since I moved to Canada just over 10 years ago. That’s an average of one every two years. So I ask, how is any party - minority or majority - supposed to accomplish anything when they rarely agree on how things should be done?

Coming from a primarily two-party system in the U.S., the overwhelming selection of parties to choose from in Canada is just one more thing that baffles me about politics here. Which party do you support? Is it the Liberals? Conservative? Independent? New Democratic Party? Bloc Quebecois - which is mostly from Quebec Ridings? These are just the more widely recognized parties, i.e., they actually hold seats. This vast selection is precisely why we have a minority government in the first place. Here’s an overview of the House of Commons, which shows the number of seats held by each party. It’s easy to see why there is such division and it makes my head ache to think of yet another election that is most definitely not going to make the general public happy.

Politics in the U.S. gets ugly, but the frequency of elections in Canada makes me miss fixed terms that are legislated in the U.S. At least there you have a timeline to work with and it’s possible to accomplish something without the constant threat of an election call hanging over your head at the first wrong move.

Sigh.

Is it May 3rd yet? My head hurts.