April 11, 2011

Because it's Canada

Disclaimer: the rest of the family gets annoyed when I start getting too political so I need to mention that these opinions are those of the writer (me) and don't necessarily represent the opinions of the entire family. However, Duke the dog agrees with me on everything.

Because it's Canada, the Federal election debate in French was just rescheduled due to a hockey game. Yes, hockey. Sadly there are only two Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoff race, one of them being our home team, the Montreal Canadiens. This country also happens to be in the middle of a Federal election. When it was discovered the first playoff game for the Canadiens was scheduled on the same evening as a French televised debate, Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois party, suggested they move the debate up a day so as not to interfere with the game. Unlike the conflict that put this country into another election cycle, everyone agreed. And so it was done. Everyone is happy. For now. Besides, it's hockey.

I'm still trying to understand Canadian politics. I'm sure there's a sixth grader out there who can correct my facts. However, that sixth grader would have to be outside of Quebec because in this Province they emphasize Quebec politics and history because, well, many people in Quebec still want to abolish English, separate and want nothing to do with Canada except when it comes to equalization payments and benefiting from the Alberta.

This is what I know about the current election. Back in March the Conservative government FELL. Doesn't that sound dramatic? Almost as bad as a government shutdown. Basically, the Conservatives lost a motion in the House of Commons that was brought forward by the Liberals. Unlike the U.S. which has two parties (yes, I know, those Tea Party people want to be a real party, but... ), Canada has a bunch of them. There are the Liberals and the Conservatives, the New Democratic Party the Green Party and here in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois. There are several other candidates but they don't seem to matter much, sort of like Donald Trump. They use the election to make some noise, like the Marijuana party in Canada (yes, they are an official party).

So, last month the House of Commons passed a motion of non-confidence in the Conservative government because they affirmed the Conservative government did some not-so-legal things by not disclosing financial details and therefore obstructing government. As a result, the Liberals and all the other opposing Members of Parliament refused to pass a budget. Sound familiar? But instead, here in Canada this meant that Parliament is basically dissolved and within six weeks or so there has to be a Federal election.

So, this is where we are now...six weeks of campaigning for a reappointment of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister or a leader of one of the other parties. The main difference between the elections in Canada versus the U.S. is that in Canada everyone votes for the candidate/party they want in their "riding" which is like a district. This person will represent them as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons. The leader of the winning party then becomes Prime Minister. Currently we have Stephen Harper. Confused? There are 308 seats in Parliament and 158 are needed for a majority. Although Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have the most MPs, they don't have the full majority which makes things interesting.

Quebec makes things even more interesting, as usual. Outside of Montreal, most of the MPs are members of the Bloc Quebecois. Many of these supporters are the ones who would like to see Quebec break away from Canada and have a lot of other crazy ideas. Personally, I correlate the leader of the Bloc and his party to Sarah Palin and her followers. They make a lot of waves and get a lot of attention for the crazy things they say or do. Not that I can understand Gilles Duceppe from the Bloc because he doesn't like to speak English, nor does he care much about the anglophone vote. I feel the same about Sarah Palin, I can't comprehend what she's saying most of the time either.

Speaking of hockey. The Montreal Canadiens will play the first game on Thursday, April 14th and the Federal Election debate (in French) will be the day before. There will be an English debate as well, which I will watch so I can make sure I'm understanding these politics.

Not that it matters that much. Despite the fact that we pay hefty taxes here in Canada (more in Quebec), we can't vote.

You don't think the folks in this country eat, sleep and breathe hockey? Stephen Harper plays a game of ball hockey with a staffer while waiting for his plane on the tarmac as it's prepared for another campaign stop.


Guillermo said...

Loved this post Kish!

But the hockey thing is OK, right? What would have happened in the USA if a Play Off Baseball or NFL or NBA game overlaps with a Presidential debate?

Zhu said...

U.S. politics seems even more complicated than Canadian politics to me! I liked the French system where we vote directly for a president, not a riding candidate.

Living in Ontario, I never truly understood the raison d'être of the Parti Québécois...

Dhairya said...

Thanks for sharing this post.I enjoyed reading it.


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