If the Canadian election delivers a minority government parties need to consider a post election strategy in terms of forming a government no matter who captures the largest number of seats well short of a majority.

The Canadian election appears to be a very close race with no party appearing to have an overwhelming lead. Both the leader of the New Democrats and the leader of the Liberals have made it clear they will not support a minority government led by Stephen Harper.As Mr. Mulcair colorfully put it there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that he would support a Harper minority government. Mr . Trudeau has more or less said the same thing. At the same time he has indicated he does not want to form a coalition with a government led by Mr.Mulcair but has indicated on a case by case basis he might be able to co-operate with other progressive members of Parliament. Mr.Mulcair has indicated he would not mind co-operating but that the Liberal party has rejected his overtures. Much will depend on the actual results. But at this point in time with the election one day from now it is time to start thinking about how the parties might co-operate to form a non conservative government after the election should the Conservatives not win a majority of the seats.

Clearly a lot depends on the numbers but it ought to be possible to envisage some terms of co-operation to permit a co-operative NDP Liberal or Liberal NDP non Conservative government or even a Liberal NDP Green progressive conservative government. If either the Liberals or the NDP end up with the largest number of seats but not a majority on their own that ought to be relatively easy to negotiate in the spirit of serving the interests of a likely close to 70% of the electorate that want a change in direction. If Mr.Haper’s party wins the largest number of seats but not a majority he can try to hang on forming a government and facing a confidence motion. If the NDP and the Liberals and the Greens immediately move and vote non confidence the Governor General will be obligated to call on the leader of the second largest party to try to form a government backed by a majority of MPs also drawn from the other parties.The Conservative party may well wish to replace Mr.Harper or he may wish to resign in the event he is defeated in Parliament but that should not be allowed to stand in the way of an alternative government being formed.Similarly if Mr.Harper resigned before Parliament met Parliament should be convened to test its will with respect to a continued Conservative government or an alternative government without extended delay.

This then would be the way forward, perfectly constitutional and democratic. Under no circumstances should any party leader be allowed to form a government and be defeated in parliament after only a very short period in office and then allowed to call an election without first permitting one of the alternative parties to form a government first.At least in the first 18 to 24 months after this election that should be the understanding.If your party has come second or perhaps even a close third you still have the constitutional possibility of forming a government so long as the government so formed can win the confidence of parliament.


About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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