Collaboration is the future: Minority governments

August 16 2021

As I sit here on the eve of one unwanted summertime election, and anticipating the beginnings of another, I am reflecting on some of the rhetoric I keep hearing about the necessity of voting for one or other of the two major parties. The story goes that we have to vote Conservative because they are only ones who have a hope of forming government and stopping the Liberals (and vice versa). And in particular, as I watch the federal Liberals call a totally unnecessary election solely in order to go for a majority so “they can get things done”, I wonder what happened to the “partnership” they had with the NDP and the “deals” they made early in the pandemic  to pass CERB and other pandemic benefits. . This includes paid sick leave, pushed for by the NDP, which otherwise would not have been part of that bill. The Liberals can’t work with the NDP because they don’t want to, it’s as simple as that. And they think they can ride the coat-tails of the pandemic to a majority.

In NS, our Liberal party has made the same calculation – they are hoping that by listening to public health advice about the pandemic and keeping our COVID numbers down, we will forget about everything that has happened in the previous 7 years of their rule. But it may not work – polls tell us that we may be going into minority territory, and that possibility makes me happy. Just this morning, in an excellent column in our local newspaper, Leo J. Deveau writes about this week in 1927 when “In this year, after considerable pressure from J.S. Woodsworth, Leader of the Labour Party (1921-1932) – and later the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (1932 – 1942), PM Mackenzie King was persuaded to introduce an old age pension plan in exchange for Woodsworth party support of King’s minority government. It was Canada’s  first social welfare legislation – the Old Age Pension Act.” . The CCF was the precursor  to the NDP, which later under Tommy Douglas and various minority governments brought us medicare and other social programs. Without minority governments, I might not be anticipating collecting my old age pension in a year or two and we certainly wouldn’t be debating about the best way to fix our public healthcare because we wouldn’t have one. **

Although Iā€™d love to see the NDP form a government, a balance of power (or opposition) situation could also be an excellent thing as the party under Gary Burrill exerts pressure to achieve many of its progressive goals (including tackling climate change, healthcare, affordable housing etc). In previous posts on this blog, I have documented the disasters wreaked on the education system under the ever so slim majority government of the Liberals. Throughout it all, Gary and education critic, Claudia Chender have supported teachers, parents and children. The NDP platform vows to ā€œWork(ing) in partnership with teachers and parents to improve schools, instead of continuously picking fights with stakeholders, as the Liberals have done.ā€ That would be a huge improvement on what we have been living with for the past 8 years. Collaboration is the future.

**Did you know that Nova Scotia’s pension plan was paid for initially by the profits from liquor sales after the ending of prohibition? Neither did I.