Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thailand, not Canada, faces a dangerous crisis

First, two quotes that had been posted as comments on a previous post:
Jotman: Canada .... thriving with a tried and proven democratic system.

Canada's government is on it's way out after only two months.
Canada faces a political crisis. But the severity of the crisis ought to be examined in context. At present, Canada faces a relatively mild constitutional crisis relative to the struggles the vast northern country has faced in the recent past concerning the question of Quebec separatism. Today's impasse is comparable, but far less difficult, than the situation the United States faced following the 2000 election vote. But it is natural to try to compare Canada's constitutional difficulties with Thailand's recent experience.

However, the analogy is not such a good one. The Canadian Prime Minister, who leads the minority government, has quite disingenuously called the opposition parties' move to form a coalition government "undemocratic." This kind of language has been used recently by Thais, but with far more justification.

For a party with a minority of seats in the country's parliament to presume to govern as if it had a majority -- as Prime Minister Harper's government has -- is presumptuous, but not undemocratic. For opposition parties to seek to form a coalition government that includes separatists -- after assured voters they would not do so -- may seem presumptuous to some, but again, it is not -- as Harper claims -- "undemocratic" for them to attempt to do so. According to the rules of Canada's democratic system, it's up to Canada's governor general to decide which of two presumptuous groups in Canadian politics should get its way. The Governor General will likely either ask the Prime Minister to call an election or to allow the coalition group to govern.

The Canadian example shows that democracy allows for leadership upgrades. There is no need to suffer any interruption of the air transportation services.

What is the difference between Thailand and Canada? It's not merely a question of degrees, but of climate. The Canadians are working within the democratic system, but members of the Thai opposition movement put their hands into the fire.

Photos: © Douglas Morton / APMS. Used with permission. Thai pro-government demonstrators wear red and white -- the colors of the Canadian flag. Sadly, Thailand's political difficulties are far more severe than the political impasse facing Canadians, where the democratic system has been stretched, but not to the breaking point as in Thailand recently.

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