Minority Government in Canada

Essay by torontoboyCollege, UndergraduateA-, April 2006

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A minority government is best defined as having the greatest number of MPs in the House of Commons but not more than half of the total MPs (Booth, 2004, p.55). In the past, most minority governments did not last all that long (although this is not always the case); the average being 1 year, 5 months and 27 days. This was usually due to a non-confidence vote cast against them. (http://www.mapleleafweb.com, A). There have been three particular minority governments which have displayed interesting performances; William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberals, John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives and Paul Martin's Liberals.

There have been eight minority governments since confederation. Three were Progressive Conservatives and the other five being Liberals. Although most governments of this kind would not last that long, William King's Liberals ran from December 1921 until 1925; almost a full term! (http://www.mapleleafweb.com, B). In 1921, the Liberals with 116 seats and over half being Quebecers were only one member short of a majority government.

The conservatives only accounted for 50 seats and 65 went to the Progressives, protesting farmers against Ottawa's agriculture policies. During four years king enforced polices such as the Crow's Nest which farmers greatly favored, and the National Railway's restoration. When the 1925 election rolled around, however, the Conservatives won 116 seats, the Liberals 101 and the Progressive 24 possibly as a result of the Liberals not acting quickly enough on the issue of tariff reduction. King continued as Prime Minister because of the Progressives supporting him. In June 1926, Conservative leader Arthur Meighen was unable to gain support in the House of Commons after Governor General Lloyd Byng asked him to form the next government, thus giving way for another election in September of 1926. (http://www.liberal.ca)

The shortest minority government that Canada has seen was John...