The Canadian political system is unique because it runs under a parliamentary system. In Canada, the government can be formed by any political party that has garnered the most seats in parliament or not (Duval and Pétry 211). The Canadian parliamentary system of government had contributed to the formation of minority and a majority government. A minority government is formed by a political party that lacks a majority of seats in the House of Commons (Duval and Pétry 211). On the other hand, a majority government is formed by a ruling party that holds most seats in a parliamentary system. It uses the majority of members in the house of commons to facilitate the passage of government bills. Although a majority government has many benefits, a minority government can effectively represent Canadians’ interest due to its high levels of accountability and openness.
A Minority Government
A minority government exist where a government lacks an outright majority of seats in the house of commons. Canada experienced its first minority government in 1921, where the Liberal party formed a government with 116 seats while the opposition had 119 seats in parliament (Heard). This form of government is usually forced to work with the opposition to enable them pass bills for the effective running of government. As a result, the minority government are likely to compromise with other small parties for their survival and in passing the bills. This form of government believes that one does not need numbers to run the government effectively and deliver on the promises made to Canadians. Since they require the support of the opposition and other small parties, they must serve people’s interests. Therefore, this form of government must lobby the members of parliament to ensure that their bills are passed. As a result, because the minority government is usually afraid of interference by opposition, they majorly work on aspects of the general public’s best interest.
A Majority Government
A majority government is one of the forms of government practiced in Canada due to its parliamentary system. It is where the government garners the majority of the seats in the house of commons. This form of government is likely to have the most seats in parliament and does not entirely rely on other parties’ support to pursue its legislative programs (Duval and François Pétry 217). A majority government is usually assured of passing legislation and rarely has to worry about being defeated in parliament. This type of government started in 1867 when the conservative formed a government with 101 seats in parliament against 80 seats garnered by the liberal party (Heard). They believe that effective running of government affairs depends on having numbers. A majority government uses the numbers in parliament to pass bills they consider pertinent to the public’s interest. Therefore, a majority form of government controls parliament and uses the power to pass bills.
A minority government is the best for Canada because it promotes equal participation of all parties represented in the house of commons. It creates a unique system where the ruling party must work with the opposition and other small parties to run the government effectively. Since a minority government lacks enough numbers in parliament, they depend on the opposition to make the requisite number for passing government bills (Bennett 3). For instance, decisions must be debated and modelled to fit more than one parties’ narratives and values. This form of government lacks the capacity to force policies in parliament to serve their interest, as in the case of a majority government. Therefore, a minority government ensures that all parties in parliament work for the interest of the public.
The minority government is more accountable compared to the majority government because the operations of the government are checked by parliament. However, this form of government is considered unstable because their performance, especially on legislation, often depends on the agreement they strike with the opposition (Duval and François Pétry 217). A minority parliament requires political parties to cooperate with one another. As a result, the government must ensure that only policies that most parties could agree with are brought before the house to avoid disagreement. In addition, as opposed to a majority government, for purposes of accountability, the minority government has a duty to make sure that people-based bills are passed. Thus, in a minority government, the operations, especially legislation, are carried out carefully.
A minority government is more responsive to the concerns of all government members. A minority government must work hard to keep the confidence of the House of Commons by listening to the opinions of all members (La Fornara 15). In Canada, the Prime minister and Cabinet are not solely responsible for making decisions and must consider other elected officials’ opinions. Despite the fact that minorities make up only a small percentage of the population, the majority is largely indifferent to their opinions. Majority policies that benefit the majority and harm minorities can lead to the marginalization of minorities. The minorities have no choice but to ensure that parliament has faith in them to remain in power, finish their term, and achieve their promises.
A minority government is considered effective for Canadians because it is transparent. To gain support, the minority party must communicate with the other parties in the government. A minority government must persuade the opposition parties why they should support them (La Fornara 10). For example, they can talk about passing a financial bill in order to garner support from their constituents. However, it is challenging to achieve openness and understanding in a majority government. A majority government communicates only amongst its members, not with the opposition parties. The members agree on some decisions and bills solely based on their ideologies and positions, and no other political parties are required to support them. As a result, the nature of a minority government makes it more transparent than a majority government.
The era of the minority government brought a lot of developments to Canada. The historical assessment of the performance of minority forms of government indicates its benefits to the people. For example, the Pearson’s minority governments of 1963-65 and 1968 were marked with a lot of progressive legislation, including, but not limited to, universal Medicare, the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans (La Fornara 25). In addition, Martin’s minority government of 2004 to 2006 had an outstanding performance known as the negotiation with the provinces to improve health care and reduce wait times. Based on this, there is no doubt that the leadership of a minority government has effectively contributed to the development of Canada.
Most minority governments are anxious to establish an immediate track record of accomplishment that can be easily seen and understood by voters to gain support. This necessitates the public sector’s implementation and delivery of programs as quickly as possible (Duval and François Pétry 209). In addition, based on what has been learned so far about the implementation of the economic growth strategies, there is significant pressure on the public sector to expedite reviews and assessments, reduce or eliminate less important requirements, streamline procedures and processes. It also expedites interdepartmental and intergovernmental consultation and approvals and effectively coordinates public statements. Therefore, the desire to change the country makes minority governments effective.
On the other hand, In Canada, a majority government is formed when the winning party obtains more seats in parliament. Since most members support the bills, a majority government is more efficient in making decisions on pressing issues (Duval and François Pétry 217). In parliament, party unity is essential for passing bills and making decisions. When members of a particular party are on one side in deliberations or debates, they are unlikely to be defeated. Members of a political party must remain loyal to the party and demonstrate solidarity. However, this form of government can pass bills to serve their interest with this power. As a result, the majority party supports bills sponsored by one of them or that are favorable to and align with their interest.
A majority government has a majority of seats in the legislature, ensuring that legislation is passed without fear of being defeated. As a result, numerous bills affecting citizens and the country are enacted in order to ensure transformation and positive outcomes in living standards and national interests (Duval and François Pétry 217). By passing the bills, the government can overturn the opposition in decision making and ensure that their interests are met. Their interests can be addressed more efficiently and quickly because the bills are passed without fear of being defeated by the parliament. On the other hand, the minority government cannot have this effect because it is outnumbered in parliament, which means that most bills will be defeated. A majority government can use this power to achieve their needs.
In addition, since a majority party does not need to bargain for support from other parties constantly, they are less likely to be accountable and transparent. One of the benefits of a majority government is the numbers to pass public-interest legislation (Duval and François Pétry 219). The majority through representation in parliament the interests of the vast majority of Canadians. They make certain that bills affecting their constituents are passed in order to achieve the desired results. For example, most majority party representatives ensure that healthcare bills are passed to impact their communities or citizens positively. However, it will be challenging to counter check the legislators due to their numbers. Therefore, despite the benefits, a majority government is not suitable for Canada due to the inability to take them into account.
The first interest of Canadians that a minority government can effectively address is the healthcare system. Although Canada has an effective healthcare system, there are problems that should be addressed, such as reducing the waiting time in the emergency areas. Canadians have reported waiting for more hours in the emergency department (Duckett and Annalise). Since most members of parliament understand the impact of the problem from the people, they are more likely to adopt laws to reduce the waiting time by increasing the number of personnel. In addition, under a minority government, it will be very easy for members of parliament to sponsor or support a bill proposed to eradicate poverty in Canada.
The other interest of the Canadian people is gambling addiction issues in Canada. The existence of gambling in society negatively impacts players because it makes them despite hard work. In 2018, most Canadian adults were involved in different types of gambling in the country (Williams et al., 490). this type of issue might not be an interest to the political elite because they do not feel the impact. If the government in place is a majority one, its members may fail to prepare a bill to handle the situation effectively. However, in a minority government, since they rule at the mercy of the opposition, they are more likely to engage in issues that resonate with the public, such as ending the gambling addiction in Canada. Therefore, to solve public interest issues, a minority government is needed.
Despite the benefits of a majority government, a minority government is preferable for several reasons, including accountability, transparency and responsiveness. This form of government makes the government responsive to the views of oppositions and small parties in the House of Commons. In addition, a minority government is more accountable than a majority government. Opposition or small parties can effectively hold a government accountable for the actions of a minority government by initiating a vote of no confidence or by voting against government legislation. Minority government promotes regular communication between the government and the opposition. However, because a majority government can pass legislation without resistance, the government can use the power to achieve their interest. As a result, a minority government is the most effective one.
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Duckett, Stephen, and Annalise Kempton. “Canadians’ Views about Health System Performance.” Healthcare policy = Politiques de sante vol. 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 85-101.
Duval, Dominic, and François Pétry. “Time and The Fulfilment of Election Pledges.” Political Studies vol. 67, no.1, 2019, pp. 207-223.
Heard, Andrew. “Canadian Election Results by Party: 1867 to 2015.” Political Science Department. Simon Fraser University, 2018. Web.
La Fornara, Lisa. “Taxonomy of Minority Governments.” Indiana Journal of Constitutional Design vol. 3, no. 1, 2018, p.1.
Williams, Robert J., et al. “Gambling and Problem Gambling in Canada in 2018: Prevalence and Changes Since 2002.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry vol. 66, no. 5, 2021, pp. 485-494. PubMed, Web.