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Contempt, Coalition, and Confidence:
Confusion about Government in Canada

© John Keith 2011

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1. Confusion about Government in Canada

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For the first time in the history of Canada, the government has been found in contempt of parliament. In a confidence vote in the House of Commons, the government was defeated, and there will be an election on May 2nd. But what does this really mean?

And in the upcoming election, the voters will elect their prime minister, right? And only the leader of the party that has the most seats in the House of Commons can be Prime Minister, right? And any sort of “coalition”, especially a “reckless coalition”, is “illegitimate” and cannot form a government in Canada, right? No – wrong! Wrong on all counts -- although you’ve been hearing these things from none other than the Prime Minister himself, his cabinet ministers, and the Conservative Party caucus.

To sort out the confusion, first let’s look at the Canadian system of government, from the top down.


1. Confusion about Government in Canada
2. Government from the top down
3. Government from the bottom up
4. Confidence, Coalitions, and Contempt

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