The Seven Day Prime Minister

Originally posted from September 1, 2008

Peace Tower

Well, what a week that was.

I’d have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Salmi met with Dion and Moore. Were harsh words exchanged? Or did Salmi surprise the two with his terms: pass the Elections Canada reform package and I and my 159 Rhino MPs will resign? Who made the deal first?

I note that, in previous Rhinoceros Party platforms, they promised to immediately resign if elected, calling a new set of elections. Perhaps that was Salami’s intentions all along, and he only stuck around to ensure that the Elections Canada reform package would pass.

In any event, I’ll give him credit: he knew when to bring the joke to a close. Canadians have been served with a week they will never forget, the established political parties have been humbled, and yet Canadians can still get down to the task of governing. Assuming the mainstream parties have learned their lesson.

And I think maybe they have. There is a certain tentativeness in the negotiations between the opposition parties about the make-up of the interim coalition government that will hold power until 160 byelections can be held. No party leader is rushing forward to claim the prize of prime minister. I’m hearing talks about a Liberal-Conservative coalition, with interim Conservative leader James Moore becoming interim prime minister. The 148 remaining MPs don’t seem to want to rock the boat, which is good, because it’s their job to keep this country stable until the leadership picture is cleared.

Indeed, I can’t help but notice the NDPs suggestion that the parties sit out the 160 by-elections (party members can still run, but only on their own merits), hasn’t been laughed out of parliament. Despite the need to fill those 160 vacancies soon, I can see that the established parties might not be eager to get in and contest a second election within a month. All of their platforms have been pretty harshly rejected by the Canadian public, and I’m also betting their warchests are drained.

And the reforms to Elections Canada may encourage more people to run for office. Among other things, getting your $1000 deposit refunded by $1.75 per vote makes it a lot less expensive to get involved.

Interesting times remain. By this time tomorrow, a man who used to be a Conservative backbench MP may be our prime minister, backed by a coalition of two traditional enemies. But with the parties chastened, maybe they’ll learn to be more positive and more responsive to the wishes of the electorate. If that’s the case, then Salami’s legacy as the seven day prime minister may last for seven decades.

We shall see.

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