I’m amused and somewhat disappointed at all the hand-wringing about the imminent British Columbia minority government.
Since the May 9 election that gave no single party a majority of seats in the B.C. Legislature, political pundits, former elected officials and newspaper editorials have quickly pointed out that recent minority governments have failed to last.
That’s historically true. The last B.C. minority government to last more than a year was a Liberal government that lasted 1,406 days, or 3.85 years, back in 1924-1928.
But the argument that every minority government will fail relies on a modern phenomena: minority governments require too much compromise and negotiation.
Too much compromise and negotiation?
Are British Columbians so used to absolutely NO compromise and negotiation from dictatorial majority provincial governments that the idea our MLAs might have to talk seriously with each other is abhorrent?
Don’t you find the notion slightly insulting that Canadian elected officials cannot cooperate and collaborate for the common good?
A recent Globe and Mail editorial said, “… it requires a leap of quasi-religious faith to believe that this (NDP and Green Party) coalition can hold for anything close to four years … It also means parties having to compromise with their partners.”
As if that’s something Canadians can’t or won’t do. Why not?
Where did this notion come from that says every piece of legislation proposed in the B.C. Legislature must pass? And if one doesn’t, then convention dictates that the government must resign and British Columbians must go back to the polls and elect a government that can do whatever it wants.
It’s a convention that perpetuates block voting and absolute loyalty to party leadership. But it discourages honest debate and the ability to amend and improve legislation. A poorly written bill should fail.
Fortunately, the current iteration of a B.C. minority government includes the Green Party, which allows its members to vote their conscience. This introduces the possibility that not every NDP proposal will pass and that the Legislature can continue without calling another election. It also suggests that MLAs might have to collaborate to make policy.
This type of collaborative government works well in other stable and leading countries — like Germany and New Zealand — and made the norm by the electoral system of proportional representation.
If the NDP and Greens can show British Columbians that our elected officials are capable of working together for good governance, despite their disagreements, then we will all benefit.