Now, I don’t mean to imply that you are all idiots, but there is a a fair amount of disinterest in Canadian politics among many Americans. We know a lot about your fair land and even cheered and cried when you elected your last President. I bet the majority of Americans would be hard pressed to even name our Prime Minister (Stephen Harper). So I thought a brief little run through on how our political system operates might be in order.
First of all we have MPs, Members of Parliament instead of your Congressmen. The country is divided up into ridings, not districts for the purpose of elections. (Anyone who wants to correct me on my knowledge of American politics please do so). Same thing, different name. The leader of the party with most MPs from the ridings wins. But he may have a minority government and the rest of the parties as a team, can gang up on him and frequently do.
In fact we have a minority government now which keeps our idiot in check. ( I say idiot because he is a fundamentalist Christian -or so he says to get those votes. Lots of pictures of his family and him wearing a powder blue sweater) and voted against a federal law providing gay marriage (he lost) and before he was elected was all gung-ho to go to Iraq. Our Prime Minister has a lot less power than your President due to the ability of the other parties to form a ‘team’ to knock him down. A no confidence vote, can mean an election.
The main parties and a minor one give us a little more choice than you. We have the ‘reigning’ government – the Conservatives, run by dope head Stephen Harper - our Prime Minister, the Liberal Party (which is not THAT different from the Conservatives as they are all run from back rooms and an old boy system, but they are indeed more 'liberal') which is headed by Michael Ignatieff (we call him Iggy, not a real popular guy), the New Democratic party which is social democratic is headed by a rather smarmy guy named Jack Layton but I still vote for them. There is also the Bloc Quebecois, lead by Gilles Duceppe. He is in the federal government supposedly fighting for the separatist movement in Quebec (which is pretty much dead in the water) but everyone know he’s really there to look after the interests of Quebec in Canada. He’s also probably the smartest of the bunch. The half-party, the Greens, who have no seats in Parliament, but they have a rather amusing, somewhat charismatic leader in a woman called Elizabeth May. They are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and are sort of nowhere right now, but on the rise. That was boring wasn’t it? But I put it in to show you that we have some basic differences from American politics in our choice of parties.
I think we are a bit ahead of you in social issues. As I mentioned, gay marriage is a federal law, socialism and liberal are not dirty words, and we TEND to look after the unemployed and welfare recipients a bit better than you guys. We also pay a lot of taxes. On everything we buy that is not a food item (candy bars don’t count – luxury item) is a 15% sales tax. At first we were outraged – but then we just kind of got used to it. The province takes some (we have ten provinces and the North West Territories not States) and the federal government take some. But that’s what it takes to have universal health care, more free or low rate day care, and better unemployment benefits. We go along with it all and although it jacks up the price of items, we don’t think of it much anymore.
Our Prime Moron made an election promise that he would get rid of the government tax on goods and services but of course that never happened because he realized that there was not enough money to pay for the services we already were receiving. He knew a reduction in services would probably lose his spot as Prime Poop, but he has been slowly and sneakily whittling away at such things as the universal health care.
We go by the Parliamentary system, like the Brits. The Parliament is divided by two sides of the house – the party in power, and the parties that lost. There is a lot of yelling and screaming across the aisle but they do seem to get things done. Boos are the most popular sound. The House speaker is supposed to keep control of these miscreants and certain thing can get you ejected, such as calling someone a ‘liar’. One of our greatest Prime Ministers, Pierre Elliott Trudeau once appeared to mutter ‘fuck’ in Parliament, but denied it with his usual humour saying all he said was ‘fuddle duddle’ which became a Canadian joke. We’re easily amused.
We have Senators, but we don’t elect them, they are political appointees just because they hang around for so long in politics, or have given bunches of money to the party in power. Some are actually there because they are good guys. When Parliament passes a bill, it goes to the Senate, but most of them don’t bother showing up, so it’s a given that a bill will pass, Senate or no Senate. Senators don’t do much of anything except get a nice pay cheque.
So maybe it all balances out. You lot are world power which is far more conservative than us, we don’t have as many Christian right as you, at least not enough to be too scary. You have a huge military, while we have a few ships and subs and a some brave men and women in the service. (We have 2,000 in Afghanistan, which is a chunk of Canadian solders. We have lost 132).We have more of a socialist bent on many of our issues and benefits, but our government representatives are just as kooky. We may have more to choose from, but that doesn’t mean we agree with anyone anymore than you do.
One thing I will never get is the electoral college in the American system, and maybe you'll never get some of our social remedies to problems for the 'have nots'.