The Coalition Crisis and Competing Visions of Canadian Democracy

Article 2 / 12 , Vol 33 No 2 (Summer)

The Coalition Crisis and Competing Visions of Canadian Democracy

In November 2008, barely six weeks after a federal general election returned another Conservative minority Parliament, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gave a fall fiscal update. It contained contentious provisions to curtail government spending, such as the suspension of federal servants’ right to strike until 2011 and the elimination of the $1.95 per vote subsidy to support political parties. Despite the global economic recession the update did not include a stimulus package which the opposition parties thought was essential to minimize the effects of the global downturn. The result was a non confidence motion, the drafting of an opposition coalition agreement to replace the government and the prorogation of Parliament by the Governor General until January 2009. This paper examines these events and argues that while the attempted coalition was compatible with Canadian parliamentary democracy, it failed largely because of a competing vision of democracy held by many Canadians.