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Fragile truce

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While Canadians put the Conservatives in charge on Monday, the election of another minority government means we’ll be doing this all over again sooner than later.

Oh sure, all the parties are talking about making the next Parliament work, with perhaps different combinations teaming up to pass legislation on an issue by issue basis. Certainly, all-party support for efforts to make government more accountable and transparent is a “no-brainer.”

In reality, though, the inevitable “honeymoon” period will last because the parties are too broke to stage another campaign—not because voters would loathe a third trip to the polls anytime soon. As well, the Liberals won’t be looking to bring down the Harper government as long as they are without a leader.

Rest assured, once the Liberals have someone at the helm and the parties have restored their respective “war chests,” the usual sniping, posturing, and finger-pointing will resume full bore. In short, the government will fall as soon as it’s advantageous to the Opposition.

How long that’s put off depends on how well Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper can juggle the competing interests and regions with his agenda, not to mention the more extreme right-wing elements of his own party. And on paper, at least, he faces a much more daunting task than Paul Martin did given his lack of obvious partners in the House of Commons.

Still, Mr. Harper deserves the benefit of the doubt—and clearly Canadians want Parliament to work. At the same time, however, voters will have to pay careful attention over the coming months just in case there’s a “pop quiz” some day (i.e. election).

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