Sunday, December 21, 2008

How is BQ veto of a Lib-NDP coalition possible?

This is another talking point I keep running into in discussions with Conservative-minded people: the BQ would have an effective veto over the coalition. This is usually followed by Bloq-bashing. Check out The Galloping Beaver.

How could the BQ veto anything with only 49 votes of 308?

Here's the current mix:
  • 143 Conservatives
  • 77 Liberals
  • 49 BQ
  • 37 NDP
  • 2 Independent
The veto argument only works if the Conservatives consistently vote against the government too. If they vote with the government or abstain, the coalition outnumbers the BQ (and you could neglect the 2 independents).

I believe this exposes the deeply partisan thinking in this argument. Why wouldn't the Conservatives absent enough MPs to allow such a vote to pass? If they could simply vote with the coalition to prevent a "BQ veto", why wouldn't they? Or more to the point, why would they vote with the BQ?

If the Conservatives are voting against a motion, wouldn't they welcome help from the BQ to defeat it? After all, if the BQ votes with the coalition the motion would pass.

Only the partisan assumption that the Conservatives would vote against the Lib-NDP coalition consistently without regard to the matter of the vote holds up the argument of a BQ veto. Of course everything depends on the subject matter of the vote, but that nevers appears in those Conservative-minded talking points.


  1. The Conservatives will not absent them selves so they don't have to vote for a bill they do not agree with. They are not Liberals.
    The veto concept is that the Bloc hold 'the balance' and can bring down the coalition (if it exists) if the coalition don't do what the Bloc wants.

  2. So, if the Conservatives don't agree with the bill, why would they condemn the BQ for voting in agreement with themselves?

    If two parties (Conservatives and BQ) both vote against this bill, how is that a veto?

  3. TRN, you get it, and it appears Tom does not. If the Conservatives can't place themselves above partisanship like the Liberals did when they didn't bring down the Cons.' minority government on multiple occasions, then how are they 'better'?

    The Bloc "veto" power is a Conservative myth. The Conservatives have much more voting power, and if they are really interested in working with the other parties, they would set aside differences so that bad bills are amended and then passed.