19 October 2004

What? Compromise in the Commons?

This is great: "Foes agree to throne speech changes." Because Prime Minister Martin's government is a minority government, he has been forced to accept an opposition motion to amend the Speech from the Throne. For once Walter Bagehot's famous fusion of powers has been attenuated, which is all for the better. From the CBC report:

This is believed to be the first time in history that a Canadian government has altered the content of its throne speech to accommodate the views of the opposition. The amendment was unanimously passed Monday after its wording was watered down in negotiations between government and opposition House leaders last week. The new wording includes promises to widen the Liberals' agenda to include:

- Considering tax cuts for low- and middle-income families as the state of the economy permits.
- Allowing a House of Commons vote on Canadian involvement in the U.S. missile defence system.
- Studying ways of reforming the federal electoral system.
- Looking into creating an independent budget office
- Ensuring any surplus racked up in the employment insurance program is used to help workers.

The issues will now go to opposition-dominated committees for debate.

To which I say, let's have minority governments more often. If it forces a single-party government, whose power is otherwise artificially boosted by the electoral system, to listen to the other parties, then it can only enhance the deliberative character of parliament.

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