ND ReSource: Fall of Canadian government not unexpected

Author: Arts and Letters


Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin this week launched an election campaign after his minority government was toppled in parliament Monday night over a corruption scandal.

Kevin Christiano, associate professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame and president of the American Council for Quebec Studies, says the fall of the government was not unexpected and now sets the stage for a federal election early in the new year.

“The Martin regime had been living on borrowed time,” Christiano said, “at least since May of this year, when a first attempt to bring it down resulted in a tie vote, which was broken when the speaker in the House of Commons sided with the government. Minority governments are inherently unstable. In Canada they typically last for about a year and a half. Martin’s endured for 17 months.”

Unpopular as the Liberals may be, Christiano says they still may prevail in the next election.

“On the eve of the election call,” he said, "a nationwide poll of likely voters conducted for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation placed Liberal support at 35 percent of the electorate. The Conservatives (to the right of the Liberals) were the choice of 30 percent of Canadians, the New Democrats (to the left of the Liberals) had the support of 20 percent, and the Bloc qubcois (the party seeking political sovereignty for Qubec) was at 14 percent support (all of it in Qubec).

“Thus, only the Liberals and the Conservatives hold any hopes of forming the next government. The task for the former is to make a clean break with a sullied reputation for administration. In the case of the latter, the challenge is to present the party and its leader, Stephen Harper, as a credible alternative to 12 years with Liberals at the helm.”

Christiano, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1983 after receiving his doctorate from Princeton University, is an expert in society and politics in Quebec and Canada. He has served as a visiting scholar in the Canadian Studies Center at Duke University and is a member of the boards of The American Review of Canadian Studies and Mens: Revue d’histoire intellectuelle de l’Amrique franaise.

** Professor Kevin Christiano is available for further comment at574-631-6463 orchristiano.1@nd.edu . The preceding comments may be used in whole or part.

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at newsinfo.nd.edu on December 01, 2005.