One happy result of recent election outcomes is that now liberal Americans get to tease our liberal Canadian friends about the role reversal — they’re the ones saddled with government by rightwingers, and they’re the ones who’ll need to flee ‘cross the border to enter the bountiful Land of Obama. Except it seems that America’s moment in the sun may be short-lived, as a three-party opposition coalition seems to have hatched a plot to boot Canadian PM Steven Harper from office.
For background, Canada has evolved toward a multi-party political system. But Canada doesn’t have a tradition of diverse coalition governments like you see in small continental European countries. Instead, Canadian parliamentarism closely resembles British political traditions. In practice, that means that when no party secures a majority in parliament, you get a “minority government” led by the plurality party. This can be a stable situation if conditions are right. But at the moment, the alternative parties — the centrist Liberals, the left-wing New Democrats, and the separatist Bloc Québéquois — are all to the left of the Conservatives on the main issues. So in principle they ought to be able to find a way to agree on a Liberal-led coalition that all will prefer to a Conservative minority government. At the moment, it seems they’re still having some trouble ironing out the details but if they manage to reach an agreement that’ll be the end of Harper.