Parties talk a lot about ruling from the centre, about bipartisanship, about the need to work together for the good of the country. I'm sad to say it's all bullplop. Grade A, 100 per cent bullplop.
As Canada stands on the brink of yet another federal election - our fourth in under six years, if you're keeping count - you really have to wonder what we're getting for our money. Sometimes it feels like the federal taxes I pay each year are little more than an extravagant pay-per-view fee to watch the cage match that is our House of Commons. Instead of grappling with issues, our elected officials prefer to grapple with each other, probing for weak spots, waiting for their opponents to make the slightest mistake, or leave the smallest opening before unleashing a flurry of verbal jabs and rib kicks - metaphorically speaking, anyway, as the reality is far more boring.
The founding fathers of the Canadian Confederation no doubt meant well when they established checks and balances that allow opposition parties to bring down the House on matters of confidence, but it's not really working that well in practice. The rules were no doubt meant to encourage consensus and allow for a change of government as a last resort - not as a knee-jerk reaction to polls, or over ideological differences concerning the way the country is being run. Obviously there are going to be differences, otherwise we wouldn't have different parties in the first place.
Ostensibly the latest crisis is over a budget update, not even the budget itself, as well as some other concerns like the isotope shortage. For some unfathomable, absurd reason, that qualifies as a matter of confidence in Canada.
Hey, I was never entirely happy at report card time either, but a "Needs Improvement" in math didn't give me the right to shut down the whole school and replace my teacher.
Like it or not, Stephen Harper won the last election - albeit with slightly more than a third of the popular vote, and with just over half of Canadians going to the polls, but that's not Harper's fault as much as it is our problem. He deserves a chance to rule, although as the leader of a minority party it's also reasonable to expect him to listen to what the other parties are saying - without all the parties constantly resorting to the threat of a new election to get what they want.
I have to give points to the Conservative Party for clarifying some matters about our horrifying financial situation and all the new debt we're about to assume, and to the Liberal Party for holding fast to a few of their demands on the government - like a plan to get us out of that debt sometime in the future. That's what a good opposition party should do. But I fail to see a crisis here worthy of triggering another election, especially one that would likely result in yet another shaky minority government and the inevitable snap election in a year or two.