As their national election approaches, Americans may want to keep in mind that up here in Canada, the balance of power rests on a single person.
Canada has dozens of political parties. In the last federal election, representatives of four parties won suficient votes to get seats in the House of Commons. In decling order of number of seats: Liberal (left of center), Conservative (right of center), Bloc Quebecois (socialist separatists), and NDP (left).
No one party received enough seats, however, for a majority government. Canada now has a minority government. The last minority government was 25 years ago.
The four parties could support each other in a variety of patterns to support and block legislation:
* Liberals and Conservatives are less socialist than the BQ and NDP.
* Conservatives and BQ are from parts of Canada that feel more alienated than the Liberal and NDP.
* Liberals and BQ tend to pander more to Quebec than Conservatives and NDP.
But this time there is a twist: One seat is held by an independent, who, under certain voting patterns, holds the balance of power.