Minority governments in Canada.

October 18, 2015

canadian-flag-blowing-in-the-wind-PublicDomanThe Canadian election is tomorrow, October 19, 2015. The present government is the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper. They have had a majority government since the election of May 2, 2011. Prior to that the Stephen Harper and his Conservatives were elected twice before, but both times with minority governments.

In 2006 for the first time, but were 30 seats short of a majority. This government lasted 2 years, 207 days (total 937 days) before another election was held. Then in the subsequent election held October 14, 2008 the Conservatives again failed to obtain a majority. This time they fell 12 seats short. This time the minority government lasted 2 years, 4 months, 9 days (total 859 days).

Finally in the next election of May 2, 2011 the Conservatives won the majority they were seeking. The two minority governments he and his party formed are the two longest lasting in Canadian history.

There are pros and cons to both majority and minority governments. Failing to obtain a majority government forces the winning party to work with the other parties on important legislation. This need to compromise is not easy, but if important legislation such as a budget are defeated then the government must resign and another election called. With a majority these is no need to compromise. However, if the government doesn’t take other parties and stakeholders concerns into account then at the next election they may be defeated or lose their majority. Minority governments require a deft balancing act to remain in power.

Here are some interesting facts about minority governments in Canadian history since 1867,
– the longest consecutive term was 937 days (2 years, 6 months, 24 days) by the Stephen Harper Conservatives. Elected January 23, 2006 and dissolved September 7, 2008.
– the shortest duration of a minority government was the John Diefenbaker Progressive Conservatives elected April 12, 1957 and dissolved February 1, 1958. It lasted just 177 days (5 months, 25 days).
– smallest minority was the Stephen Harper Conservative government elected in 2006.
– average duration of minority governments in Canada is 479 days (about 1 year, 140 days)
– first minority government in Canadian history was William Lyon Mackenzie King led Liberals in the election of October 8, 1921. Initially this government held an exact number of seats for a majority but lost two seats in by-elections of 1924 and then continued as a minority government until later in 1924 when another by-election returned them to a majority.

The election of 2015 is too close to call at this writing, but polls show the Liberals led by Justin Trudeau forming a minority government. The other two parties having a realistic chance are the incumbant Conservatives led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the New Democratic Party (NDP) led by Thomas Mulcair. It would be a huge surprise if a majority government is elected on October 15th. Voter turnout is anticipated to be heavy based on the Advance Polls so anything can happen.

** Update – Liberals pull off upset majority government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau) will be sworn in November 4, 2015.

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Big bad corporations? Wait not so fast.

October 3, 2015

Business logo pic-PublicDomainHow many of you are employed by a big corporation? Millions of Canadians and Americans are employees of corporations. This means the salary you earn feeds your family and pays your taxes among other things. The taxes the corporations and you the individual pay to governments goes toward education, health services, infrastructure and other essential services.

The taxes collected by local, provincial (or State) and Federal governments comes from individuals and corporations. These monies pay for health care, education, infrastructure and many other services most of us take for granted. Government in and of itself has no income except taxes.

This is the reason I can’t understand why big corporations are always being bad mouthed. They’re the first to be blamed when things aren’t going well, not governments, but corporations. There is no doubt corporations aren’t perfect. Under the law they are basically like individuals, well individuals aren’t perfect. There are good and bad in all things.

Corporations are accused of:
– Being unregulated and therefore running wild.
– Being a drain on society.
– Not being good citizens.
– Being polluters.
– Having no empathy.
– Being uncaring of the world they operate in.
– Making excessive profits.

Facts About Corporations society often fails to recognize:,
– They are in fact over-regulated in most cases.
– Taxed to the maximum.
– Employ millions of people.
– Give millions of dollars to charities.
– Support the arts.
– Support cities and towns wherever they operate.
– Work with governments and others to reduce their footprint.
– Actively work to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and have been for many years     now.
– Their operations comply with and in most cases exceed government environmental and safety regulations.
– A large percentage of their profits are re-invested in research and development and expansion which benefits society and employees.
– Are governed and held accountable by shareholders, governments, and society for their behavior.

Corporations deserve a little more respect. Before you condemn them make sure you have the facts. Sure they aren’t perfect, but they are a key part of our sustainable society.


People kill people, guns make it easier.

October 3, 2015
WeaponsSeizureCouttsBorderJan8-2009

Weapons. photo RCMP seizure.

The gun violence and mass killings taking place in the United States shocks us all. It is gut wrenching to read about the victims of this violence. A solution is elusive.

Every time these shootings happen a cry for gun control begins. Better gun control may or may not help. Some argue that guns kill people, others that people kill people. People may kill people, but guns make it far too easy to kill people, and too easy to kill many people. It is too easy to just scream for more gun control.

So what is the answer? First gun control measures are in place in most States now, but it still seems too easy for people with mental problems to obtain these weapons. The problem of gun violence will not be solved overnight. Gun culture is prevalent in American society and has been since the country was founded.

Guns are not inherently bad, but they are deadly weapons that must be treated with respect and not abused. Responsible gun owners know this and they are not the problem. The problem begins when these weapons get into the hands of criminals or disturbed individuals.

Predicting when these events will happen, that is when a disturbed individual will snap and go on a shooting spree, is almost impossible. Gun control laws are only a half measure if some effort is not made to identify and to help individuals with mental illnesses before they strike.

Right now the two sides, the gun lobby and the gun control advocates are just going around in circles with no consensus. The facts as I see them are,
– guns will be part of the American culture forever.
– effective gun control in some form or another is needed.
– mental illness is part of human health concerns.

An attempt must be made to resolve this issue. My suggestion is the formation of a bipartisan Congressional or a Presidential commission on Gun Culture and Gun Control. This commission should be made up of all affected parties, gun owners, gun manufacturers, law enforcement, mental health experts, victim advocates, and legal experts. The mandate should be to investigate all sides of gun ownership and gun violence, what is working and what is not working, summarize their findings, and make recommendations for improvement (changes or new measures).

The primary thing this would accomplish would be to get a national dialogue started on all aspects of this violence. In my opinion the American people must attempt to resolve and mitigate this cancer in their society.


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