Three reporters describe the October 7th federal leaders’ debate, featuring a few memorable quips, ad-hominem attacks and plenty of talking over one another, but with no clear runaway winner.
Appropriate Subject Area(s):
Social studies, current events
Key Question(s) to Explore:
- What is a minority government, and how have they worked in Canada to date?
Ad-hominem, jousted, LGBTQ
Globe article, Internet Suggested: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/minority-government); https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/october-2019/how-effective-are-federal-minority-governments/
Introduction to lesson and task:
In Canada, elections involving political parties can result in either a majority or a minority government. With the frontrunners in the current Canadian federal election in a statistical dead heat in the polls, there is now a good chance that Canada will have a minority government. The most recent minority government was that of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, who earned five years of minority rule, from 2006-2011, before winning a four-year majority.
Students can benefit from a light lesson on minority governments in which they use the suggested links and the attached article to write a short essay on their features and merits. NOTE: The lesson will remain useful, if less timely, should the election produce a majority government.
Action (lesson plan and task):
Introduce the lesson with a short general discussion about the election to come (or that has just taken place). Ask who had seen the debate on October 7th. Note that the article, attached, provides a summary of the debate.
Raise the issue of governing in a minority arrangement. Can students name any other minority governments, provincial or federal? (Many federal, including the federal Conservatives from ’06-’11) How does the party stay in power if it doesn’t have a majority? (It must forge alliances, short-term or long-term, with another party or parties).
Provide students with the article, attached, the links to The Canadian Encyclopedia and to the Policy Options sites, above—or your own preferred links—and this assignment:
Compose a one-page (or longer, teacher’s option) essay in which you argue in favour of one of these topics:
- Minority governments are a more favourable outcome of federal elections than majority governments;
- Majority governments are a more favourable outcome of federal elections than minority governments.
Your work should include:
- A short explanation of how minority governments are formed following an election;
- A list of some recent minority federal governments;
- An explanation of the term “confidence of the House,” and the implications of a vote of non-confidence;
- Some pluses or minuses of both forms of government, relative to:
- The speed at which legislation can be passed;
- Representation of voters, the electorate;
- The volume of legislation that can be passed;
- The degree of scrutiny and discussion of proposed legislation;
- The involvement of opposition parties in governing;
- The inclusion of different political ideals and views;
- The degree of power that attaches to the prime minister;
- The stability of the government, and repercussions on governing and industry.
- Scan the article provided. Wait ten minutes, then note two things you remember about what you read.
Finally, what is your opinion of minority governments? Explain, briefly.
Consolidation of Learning:
- Students discuss their essays in a subsequent class.
- Students can explain, in simple terms, how minority governments are formed and how their governments have compared, over time, with majority governments.
- Ask students to report on the formation of a minority government after the election, if that is the outcome.