[From the diaries by susanhu. Wonderfully clear write-up, Derek. Thank you from a sadly ignorant U.S. neighbor.]

“Battle of Marston Moor, sixteen-forty-four!” our high-school history teacher would chant, grinning in the expectation that we boys would share in his merriment.

For some reason his enthusiasm for history failed to communicate itself, though I have to admit he was right about one point.

Countries are shaped by their history.

In the case of Canada, the country is a product of two events. The first occurred in 1763 when the British, having defeated the French, incorporated the people of New France into British North America. The second took place in 1867 when British North America — or Canada, as it had become — was granted its independence from Britain.

It is the first event that is the more relevant here.

The people of New France became the people of Quebec, and they remain intensively sensitive about their unwilling incorporation into the larger populace.

When it comes to election time, Quebecers have recently favored a party called the Bloc Quebecois — a party which, for obvious reasons, does not exist outside of Quebec.

In the rest of Canada — and, yes, Quebecers really do refer to it as “the rest of Canada” — voters are divided between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

When you put Quebec together with “the rest of Canada,” what this means is that no single party now has the hope of forming a majority government.

Whatever the particular issues, it it really this structural problem that brought down the current Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. In Canada as in Britain there are no fixed terms for administrations. A minority government can be brought down any time all the other parties choose to gang up on it.

Whichever party becomes the next “biggest minority,” and so gets to form the new government after the January 2006 election, it is apparent that this structural problem will remain. Nothing can possibly change as a result of this election.

0 0 votes
Article Rating