The two Canadian provinces that I know best are in election mode. I spent a total of 11 years in Saskatchewan, including 2007 when Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party took over, after 16 years of rule by the NDP. Some years after that, I had a very interesting chat with Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant Governor, Gordon Barnhart.
He had quite a career as an international election observer. He was in South Africa when the first multi-race elections were held there in 1994. People walked many miles and stood in line in blistering heat for hours to cast ballots in the contest that brought Nelson Mandela to power. Several people died in election day violence, and Dr. Barnhart told me about other elections where he observed the stuffing of ballot boxes.
What a contrast in this country where we tend to take elections for granted. No violence, no soldiers .. no big deal. Just the orderly change from one regime to another. If the public opinion polls are correct, and that’s never a sure thing by any means, an orderly changing of the guard is what will likely happen in Manitoba on April 19th.
Greg Selinger’s New Democrats are coming up to 17 years in government, and they’re well beyond their ‘best before’ date.
Elections in Canada may soon be changing. Justin Trudeau, and at least two provinces including Manitoba have declared that it’s time to do away with the ‘first past the post’ system. The alternative that is touted most often is some form of proportional representation.
If that had been in effect when the federal vote took place last October, the House of Commons would probably look a lot different. Most notably, Elizabeth May would not be the only MP from the Green Party.
Hopefully those who would change the system will tread softly and carefully. Winston Churchill was on the money when he declared that parliamentary democracy was a terrible form of government, but it did seem to be better than the other alternatives.
I’m Roger Currie