Having grown up in a country with a political system I didn’t completely understand, I spent enough years in university to accidentally rack up the credits needed to earn a degree in Political Science. The name of the field of study should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about it. A bunch of academics who couldn’t pass organic chemistry without a copy of the test answers in front of them decided to study a political system long on personalities, short on rules, and embroidered by endless subjective speculation. They slapped the name “science” on it to give it a patina of credibility it wouldn’t have had with a name like Political Bullshit. I guess they could have called it Sociology but that was already taken by an even more bogus field of study and Politicology sounds vaguely like something that takes place in a gastro-intestinal tract riven with parasites… not an entirely inept description of most political systems when you get right down to it.
So it should come as no surprise I have difficulty understanding the Canadian brand of Westminster-style parliamentary politics. The way I understand the Canadian system, you vote locally for someone you don’t particularly care about because it’s the only way you can vote for someone you prefer to run the country, who is, him/herself a candidate in a local riding but who has enjoyed such success among fellow party hacks that they’ve decided to anoint him/her Leader of the pack. This person, in turn, has the absolute power to read the entrails of a goat — the scapegoat no doubt — and call an election at whim. Failing that, an election will happen in five years absent a vote of no confidence.
It’s only been recently I figured out the no confidence part. Up until now, I thought the general election was mostly a vote of no confidence. But since Steffi Dion’s been playing political chicken with Stevie Hapless for the better part of two years, I think I’ve gotten a better handle on it. No confidence means the party(ies) out of power taunts and threatens to not support the government and bring it down but doesn’t have the confidence to actually do it. Whew! I’m glad they cleared that up for me.
In an informal poll conducted over the Labour Day weekend at the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament, 8 per cent of respondents were firmly behind PM Hapless pulling the plug on parliament and calling an election. Sixteen per cent thought it was a terrible idea. Twenty-four per cent weren’t certain who or what I was talking about but were pissed off I was interrupting them in the middle of enjoying baseball and borscht, and fully 30 per cent thought parliament had already been disbanded and Stevie was running the show all by himself.