CANADIAN politics are heading for a big change.
Instead of two traditional parties - the Progressive
Conservatives and the Liberals - there could be five political
parties after the next federal election, none with a majority.
At least one of those parties, the Bloc Quebecois, is dedicated
to splitting up Canada. Another, the Reform Party of Canada, does
not care if Quebec secedes and wants to get rid of official
"The day of the two-party system appears to be over," says Angus
Reid, who runs one of Canada's largest polling firms from his base
in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "It is hard to imagine one party forming a
majority after the next election."
It may seem early to start speaking about an election. Under the
Constitution, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has until 1993 in his
present term, although an election would be expected by 1992 at the
But this year has brought some political surprises. A by-election
in August resulted in a separatist winner in Quebec, the first time
a separatist has been elected to the federal Parliament.
Gilles Duceppe, a union organizer, won that by-election in an
electoral district in the east end of Montreal on the same day a
socialist New Democratic Party candidate won another by-election in
Toronto's Oshawa suburb.
"We're not going to Ottawa to make a career," says Mr. Duceppe.
His object, he says, is to gain an independent Quebec.
The Bloc Quebecois was formed by Lucien Bouchard, the former
minister of the environment, who left the Mulroney cabinet in the
spring because he felt the Meech Lake Accord to reform the
Constitution would fail. The accord fell apart June 23.
Other Quebec Members of Parliament (MPs) joined Mr. Bouchard.
There are now nine Bloc Quebecois members in the House of Commons.
Only Duceppe was elected as a representative of the party; the
others defected from the Conservatives or the Liberals.
The ruling Conservative party received about 5 percent of votes
cast in the two recent by-elections. The Liberals, the party of
former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and which ruled the country
for all but 19 of the last 70 years, did only slightly better.
Such stirrings portend a change in the status quo. There are 295
seats in the House of Commons. To rule with a majority, a party
needs 148. Politicians and pollsters agree it will be hard for any
party to collect a majority in the next Canadian election.
In western Canada, pundits say the Reform Party of Canada could
capture 40 of the 88 federal seats held by the four western
provinces - Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia -
in the Commons in Ottawa. The party easily won a by-election in
Alberta in March 1989.
The Reform Party is led by Preston Manning, a pro-business,
antigovernment politician. …