September 10. 2015 town hall - What If There Is A 3-Way Split? A discussion on Coalitions & Accords
THREE CHEERS FOR MINORITY GOVERNMENT by Joyce Hall, Fair Vote Toronto
All three speakers at Thursday’s town hall—Peter Russell, Sean Conway and Evelyn Gigantes—agreed that minority government are better than majorities and they made the point with an engaging mix of facts, personal reflections and historical examples. Peter Russell reminded us that electors vote in not a government but a Parliament, then government takes shape from there. Many options are possible.
Sean Conway, a cabinet minister in Ontario’s NDP-Liberal Accord government, replied to a question about how parties could co-operate on climate change. The public service, he said, has a huge role to play. They will be strategizing to prepare for COP 21 which begins November 30 in Paris so that the new government can be brought up to speed quickly and options presented. He decried the current practice of not allowing the public service to talk to opposition members. People don’t have to like each other to work together constructively. He provided examples from his long political career, and from history—one being the agreement between John A. Macdonald and George Brown which created the Dominion of Canada. Apparently the two hated each other.
Evelyn Gigantes, who was a member of the NDP during the period of the Accord, reminded us that 29 pieces of major legislations were enacted including a rent registry, a ban on extra-billing and establishing the worker’s right to know about toxic substances in the workplace. MPPs from both parties worked hard and “it was fun,” she stated emphatically. “It was a stunning period of progress.” She would like to see the term “co-operation” used instead of “coalition,” to normalize the practice.
Although currently party leaders are saying loud and clear that they do not want any form of power-sharing, they may have no choice and Russell hopes they are negotiating behind the scenes now to get ready. Audience members left feeling that co-operation among parties was not only possible but desirable. Russell expressed some dismay that Canadians haven't gotten used to minority governments, even though 13 of the 30 elections since 1921 have resulted in minority governments.