Monday, April 25, 2016


What is an omnibus bill? This article from attempts to look at that.

With this in mind, I have my own definitions for certain things. Definitions that, in some cases, are important, and I may want to reference from time to time.

Omnibus Bill: This is a bill that contains many different things that are mostly unrelated to one another. Now of course, just about everything the government does will require money, and so, you could argue that a budget bill should be coupled with just about any other bill, but most reasonable humans can see what is different and what is not. The article finds some difficulty finding things from the bill that are "different" - but they do find a few things.
Teddy's Conclusion: Trying to stuff different things into a single bill is what makes an Omnibus. This current budget is not one, nor are some (but not all) of the past CPC budgets.

Super Majority: This is a term media folks like to use without explaining what it is. What makes a majority so super? Well in the US Senate, that number may be 61, which means you can not filibuster. In the US House, 2/3rds, as this can over-ride a Veto. But in Canada? In Canada nothing different happens if you hold 51 seats in a 100 seat chamber, or if you hold 99 of those seats. Hence putting any sort of marker (2/3rd, 3/5ths, etc) is meaningless. What does hold meaning?
There actually is an answer. Take a look at this graphic to help you understand:
Notice the dots. This indicates Cabinet. There are 31 of them. This means of the 184 Liberals, only 151 of them are non-cabinet "Liberals", but among these 151 are 186 "others" in the house, including the 31 members of Cabinet.
Teddy's Conclusion: A "Super Majority" in Canada is one where a party has so many members, that even if it's cabinet is not counted, it's members retain an overall majority of possible chamber seats. As such, Brian Pallister, with 12 cabinet members and a speaker, does not have a "super-majority" but Brad Wall does, as does Dwight Ball, and as may both PEI and Nova Scotia, depending on exactly how many people are officially in cabinet or not.

Strong or Weak Minority Government: People tend to use this to determine how easily a minority government will be able to function. For those from outside Canada, let me make clear: When there is an election, there is almost always a one-party government as a result. This means that if the results (in a 100 seat assembly) are 40-30-30, there is an assumption that the party with 40 seats will form a minority government without any coalition or any deals with either of the other two parties. This is different from europe, where the expectation may be the opposite.
That being said, the difference between weak and strong seem to be determined by ability to govern.
Teddy's Conclusion: This is determined by the position of the other parties. As such a strong majority is one where only one other party is needed to consent to pass a bill, while a weak one needs two or more. What determines what a "party" is (such as a 1-seat party in a 338 seat assembly) can be left to reasonable people being reasonable, but this is the basic difference.

Around: This applies to numbers. Saying that so-and-so party will take this or that many seats. That a party may take "around" 100 seats, or such. There is no clear definition, but I have some personal rules.
Teddy's Conclusion: When talking about any ole random number, my role is .5 and 2X. This means if I say "around a million bucks" that $2M or $500,000 are both within the range of what I'm talking about. This does not apply as much when it comes to seats in a legislature, the range is generally narrower, and there is no real number limit. What does matter is that other definition for other numbers, which I do and will continue to use often.

Impossible: This is the biggest problem word I run into. There seems to be this idea that things like the NDP winning Quebec or Alberta is and always was "impossible" This is simply not true. Some parties have the ability to grow.
Teddy's Conclusion: Growth is important. There is an indication of a few instances of growth across the country, in particular, with the Greens in places like BC, Ontario, and other provinces. A Green government in BC by 2026 is not "impossible". The NDP also could win a majority in any province, on any level, given the right circumstances. Tories and Liberals could also win any province on a federal level. Provincially the Tories could win almost every province excepting those where a right-of-centre party already exists, such as BC (Liberals), Quebec (CAQ), Saskatchewan (Sask Party), and Yukon (Yukon Party), while the Liberals could win everywhere except the Prairies, where there are some deep structural problems (and bluntly, they already have)
Much less is impossible than you think. If you count extreme vote splits and defections, the Greens could a plurality of seats, provincially, in every province excepting Newfoundland, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

In closing, I also want to include a list of "possible" in the next 4 or 5 years


A new party on the left that is successful in winning seats
This will not happen without taking huge chunks of sitting MPs out of the Liberals and/or NDP.

A new party on the right that is successful in winning seats
This is possible

A new party in Quebec that is successful in winning seats
Only if they displace the Bloc

The Greens growing
30 seats in the next election? Maybe. More is iffy, 45-50 at absolute most.

The NDP vanishing
For the NDP to take 8 or less ridings you'd really need to see this clearly going to another party, this would either mean a significant growth in the Green vote, or, a clear move to the Liberals to the left.

The Tories vanishing
Won't happen. You'd need to totally replace the right-wing vote with a new right-wing party.

The Liberals vanishing
If this happens you'll know, it'd take weeks, if not months, of daily newspaper headlines for the entire party to vanish. Is it possible? Yes, but not bloody likely.

NDP government
Yes. Minority. I can't see a majority in the next election though, but if Trudeau leaves, or, gets caught in a HUGE scandal (larger than sponsorship) maybe

Tory government
Yes. Period. Minority and Majority.

Liberal Super-Majority
Yes. Period.

Bloc Return
eh...under the right circumstances, yes. Again, you'd know about it, as you'd hear about this in the news. It would be a "big thing". Otherwise their hard-cap is about 20-25, but if we get into some other wedge issue that pits Quebec against "Canada", then yes, we can certainly see the Bloc climbing back up to 50 or more seats.


In the next election, the only parties that can win are either current incumbents or official oppositions. There are some caveats:
BC - With the right vote splits, the Greens could manage a minority. They could also take a minority if there is some huge scandal that rocks one or both of the other parties.
AB - If the "progressive voter" were to shift, we could see a different result in the next election. Regardless, the PC Party could still return, and as such, all 3 major parties have the potential to win the next election.
MB - We would need to see some kind of massive change (like MLA's defecting, or a massive corruption scandal) but if we do, we could see a Liberal win here in the 2020 election.
ON - If the Liberals drop the (progressive) ball, we could see the NDP pick it up and run with it. So far, we see no sign of this. If it does happen, however (like if the NDP proposes a basic income) we could still see an NDP win.
QC - Any of the 3 major parties could win. The Quebec NDP could also win, if they, you know, become an actual operating party.

I hope this clears some things up.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I truly question the viability of a provincial NDP in Quebec.

    I'm trying to imagine what their base is. I know, "left-wing federalist party" is the one bandied about the most, and its the one area of the spectrum lacking a significant presence within Quebec.

    But then I asked myself, well if this area was so sorely lacking a representative, surely there would have already been a party that championed, right? After all, we've had the PQ/Liberal dichotomy since the 70s, and if there was ever a time for a federalist left-wing alternative to show up it would have been during the PQ's drift to the right in the 90s, not to mention the Bourassa and Charest years. I think if there was ever to be a NDP-like party cropping up, it would have been at that junction of early 2000s to 2008, yet instead we saw the rise of the centre-right nationalists in the ADQ and the left-wing separatists in the QS. The Greens, which could be considered the closest thing to a left-wing federalist party in the province, managed at best 3%?

    So clearly that base is simply non-existent or is so tightly wound up between the established parties that any breakthrough would be minimal, under 5% at first and hopeful for a breakthrough years down the line, maybe. I cannot imagine a lot of people sticking around for that. It would require an epic meltdown of probably the Liberals, but with Peladeau and Legault kicking around I can't see that happening, too many federalists will stay true.

    So where else can the NDP go? Federally in 2015, I want to say they filled a fuzzy left-wing apathetic nationalist mold, if you can really say they represented *anything* but themselves, considering that their legit results, ie those not won with something like 32% of the vote and barely squeaked by on a split vote, came in from the 2011 MPs who made a name for themselves (Brousseau, Dusseault, Saganash and Moore) or were powerhouses and given leadership roles (Boulerice, Caron, Lavadiere). The thing is that this role is already covered by the PQ and CAQ and QS, so its a crowded field and entering into would be nigh impossible if you consider that I see no big name waiting in the wings that can draw those votes to the party. Pierre Ducasse? Give me a break.

    So I see no immediate future for the NDP provincially in Quebec beyond becoming another also-ran, at least for 2018.