19 April 2011

On minority governments…

Before everybody’s head explodes, just think about this for a second.

If Canadians are still not sure about giving Harper and the Conservatives a majority, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is actually playing an interesting strategic card in his comments to CBC’s Peter Mansbridge about the prospect that the Liberals could form a government without going back to the polls right away.

There might be one small flaw in the logic of it though, and that remains the problem with all of these discussions about minorities dating back to about 2004.

Much of the outcome depends on what the prime minister at the moment advises the Governor General.

If Harper goes back in a dead-on tie with the Liberals, he gets to try and form a government first.  If the Conservatives fail to get the confidence of a majority in the House, he is obliged to head over to Rideau Hall.  If the prime minister advises the GG to invite Ignatieff to give it a go, then that’s pretty easy.

But what if he doesn’t?

Paul Martin had that option once and went for the writ.

What might have happened if the Governor General refused to take his advice and instead tried the course of inviting either Jack Layton or Harper to have a go?

The same thing  - GG refusing to take advice - could well happen again in the scenario Mansbridge and Ignatieff discussed.

- srbp -