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Old 11-29-2005, 10:21 PM   #1
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What exactly is going on in Canada?

I read on my online news sources that the opposition parties in Canada joined together and want an early election. Does that mean the voters will elect a new PM, or is every member of parliament going to have to run for their seats again? Don't you have a set election day every year like the US, or can parliament votel for an election at any time? I guess what I don't understand is the whole battle over the timing of the election.

There's alot of Canadian members here that hopefully can enlighten me.
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:49 PM   #2
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What I heard is that winter is approaching and the regular time for voting will mean that there will be many, many members who will not show up to vote due to blizzard conditions. It was said on NPR this morning that in the summer they "won't hardly put down their beer at their barbecues to vote," so asking them to vote in the winter is even tougher.

I'd love to hear some Canadian feedback on this, myself.
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:52 PM   #3
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What exactly is going on in Canada?
Sometimes I really wonder......

:P
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:13 AM   #4
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Oooh! I've been lurking for a month, but if there was *ever* a time to sign and post, this is it... And yes, I realize that I am a politics nerd...now moving onward...

The Background:
Canada has two houses, similar to the US - a House of Commons (308 representatives, who are called Members of Parliament - MPs) and a Senate (representatives are Senators). Unlike the American system, pretty much everything is decided by the HoC and the Senate is more ceremonial and acts as a rubber stamp. MPs are elected by the public, Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister.

The Canadian Prime Minister (who is the equivalent of the US President for all intents and purposes) is the head of the HoC. Each MP is elected by their riding, similar to US elections. MPs generally run as Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois, and a few more minor parties. The difference in the two systems is that Canadians do not vote for their Prime Minister directly - the leader of the party with the most seats is automatically the Prime Minister. So when someone votes, they are voting for their representative directly, but they are also voting for who they think should be Prime Minister indirectly.

The Current Situation:
The "Sponsorship Scandal" had dominated the Canadian media for quite some time, so I won't go into too much detail here. Basically the ruling party (the Liberals) had a sponsorship program that was providing kickbacks to party insiders - about $300 million (CDN). This happened before the current Prime Minister (Paul Martin) came into power, and occurred when the previous PM (Jean Chretien) was the Prime Minister. There was a major inquiry, and the current PM was cleared of wrongdoing, however the Liberal Party was not.

So, the opposition parties (namely the Conservatives - who have the second highest number of seats - the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP) have been calling for an election since the results of the inquiry were made public, because they say that the Liberals have lost of the confidence of Canadians because of the scandal. The PM has promised an election in March, but the opposition parties decided they wanted it earlier, so they moved a vote of non-confidence in the government on Monday. As required, the Prime Minister dissolved parliament, and the election is scheduled for January 23.

So, what's going to happen?
In short? Likely nothing. All the polls point to the Liberals remaining in power, and the conversatives still having the second highest number of seats. Of course, there is a chance that the Conservatives will take power, but it doesn't look to likely right now.

Basically, everyone is in a huff over the winter election - not only because it is over the holidays, but also because it is pretty difficult to run a campaign when it is -20 F. The Liberal Party was going to call the election for March anyway, but the opposition wants it now because a lot of people aren't happy with the Liberals due to the scandal. The opposition sees this as their opportunity to gain seats *now* instead of taking their chances that the scandal will still be a big deal in March.

The international media is making a big deal out of the whole thing because "Canadian Government Brought Down" or some such title attracts a lot of attention. But, to be honest, I think that there may be a small change in the total seat counts, but we're pretty much going through the motions and are going to end up with the same government and opposition that we currently have.

.....

So, to answer your other questions, QTOFFER, now that the HoC is dissolved, all 308 MPs must run for re-election if they would like to remain in the House. The leader who's party has the most MPs after the election will become the Prime Minister. Canada doesn't have set elections, but they are generally held about every four years, and are called by the government.

So...that's the story. Apologies for the long and rambling post...I could talk about this all day!
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:24 AM   #5
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Hmmm glad I didn't post, I couldn't have been so articulate, LOL. Good job explaining.
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:52 AM   #6
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Wow, thanks, Sara!
That pretty much cleared things up. Some of what you posted I already knew, but most I did not. Canadian politics usually flies under the US media's radar, but I guess the scandal has caught the newshounds' attention. In a way, it's somewhat comforting to see that American politicians don't have a complete lock on financial corruption.

I hope Canadian campaigns aren't as expensive, long, tedious, and dirty as ours. (Perhaps having elections in the dead of winter isn't such a bad idea... ) I really can't imagine ALL of our representatives running for election at the same time - TV and radio would basically have to air political ads 24 hours a day!
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Old 12-01-2005, 04:49 PM   #7
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What I heard is that winter is approaching and the regular time for voting will mean that there will be many, many members who will not show up to vote due to blizzard conditions. It was said on NPR this morning that in the summer they "won't hardly put down their beer at their barbecues to vote," so asking them to vote in the winter is even tougher.
Oh my goodness. Had to delurk to comment on that one! Is that seriously what's being said? Voter apathy is a bigger deal in getting people out than blizzards or barbecues. The politicians have trouble making the majority of the country really care. Even I struggle with voter apathy, even though I'm of the opinion that if you don't go out and vote, you've got no cause to complain about the whole thing.

The trouble I'm finding is that I don't really feel like voting for any of the candidates that are running, locally or on a party leader level. It's frustrating. You get to the booth and look at the ballot, and end up picking the least of three or four evils. How is that good for the country, really?

-Vanessa
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Old 12-01-2005, 04:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by riccinbru

Oh my goodness. Had to delurk to comment on that one! Is that seriously what's being said?
That is seriously what is being said. This was on NPR. The tone of the comment (I am sorry now that I did not pay better attention and can't recall who this person was, or how reliable this source) was pejorative in that she made Canadian politicians sound as if they rarely could be bothered to do their jobs, and as if everyone shook their heads and chuckled over this accepted fact. I was a little shocked, and take it with a rather large grain of salt, lol.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:24 PM   #9
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*sigh* Canadian politics lol

Well...we all knew the govn't was going to fall being a minority and all it was just a matter of time. I think people have started to vote for their constituancy MP's more for what they are willing to do for the people rather than their party. The long and short of it is that we're probably going to end up with another minority and another election within a couple years. I'm surprised NPR had the audacity to say something like that.

"You get to the booth and look at the ballot, and end up picking the least of three or four evils. How is that good for the country, really?" LMAO no kidding!

Last year I threw my vote on a party I knew wasn't ever going to make it into the house. I'm tired of our MP not doing anything and I'm not going to vote for her just because she was going to be the majority (she's also related to about 1/2 the population...gee I wonder if she'll be elected again!)

It would be nice to either A: just have another majority govn't or even better B: Have a NEW majority govn't (darned fence post sitters are driving me NUTS!) :P
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:34 PM   #10
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I'm in the office and my headphones are broken so I can't listen myself... but is this the NPR broadcast you're refering to TankGirl?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=5030568
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No-Confidence Vote Forces New Election in Canada
by Richard Reynolds

Morning Edition, November 29, 2005 · The government of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin lost a no-confidence vote Monday. As a result, Canadians will head to the polls for a new election in January. Martin's minority Liberal Party has been tainted by a corruption scandal.
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