Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Look Back at a Few Notable Minority Governments in Canadian History

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Look Back at a Few Notable Minority Governments in Canadian History

Article excerpt

A look back at some notable minority governments

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Canada's history with minority governments is a colourful one, featuring everything from feuding factions to harmonious collaboration. In fact, some of the country's most critical legislation was shaped and passed by minority governments.

As British Columbia faces the prospect of its first minority government in 65 years, here's a look back at a few notable examples of minority governments at both the federal and provincial level:

OTTAWA 2008

In December 2008, fresh off an election victory that established a second consecutive minority government, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was dealing with a parliamentary revolt over his proposal to end subsidies for political parties.

The Liberals and NDP banded together to fight the effort and soon won the temporary support of the Bloc Quebecois. The coalition of the three parties would have been enough to oust Harper and replace him with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion as prime minister.

But Harper forestalled the move by asking Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to prorogue the Commons. In an open letter written before she left her post, Jean reflected on the decision as "a moment in our political history that very likely made the population question our system and how our institutions function.''

In the end, Jean granted Harper's request and, eventually, the coalition fell apart.

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SASKATCHEWAN 1999

When Premier Roy Romanow called an election in 1999, pundits predicted the veteran politician would cruise to a third majority government.

When the ballots were counted, however, Romanow and his party got a shock -- they had lost all their previously held rural seats and were one seat short of a majority.

Romanow quickly struck a deal with three Liberals to secure their support for his government, a move that did not go without internal criticism at the time.

''I'm so mad I could bite the ground,'' Saskatchewan Liberal Party president Rod MacDonald fumed, adding he had not been consulted about the deal. …

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