I was planning to put this game together sometime near the beginning of the legislative session. Alas, the Wildrose Party jumped the gun on me with their demanding the firing/resignation of Fred Horne in mid-summer so I decided I had better get on this as who knows how many stamps may be gained before the legislature even manages to sit for a full session.
There are few opposition tactics that are as shallow, abused, over-used and lazy as that of demanding the resignation of a government minister or member over an issue. Perhaps Horne’s firing is warranted but I tell you what; now that Smith has demanded he be fired there is practically no way that Horne will be shuffled or fired anytime soon. All the same, this is the first demand for a resignation/firing by the Wildrose since the election so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt in that this is just something of a one-off or that Horne really needs to go that badly.
It can be argued that one of Canada’s most fiscally conservative governments in recent memory was under Jean Chretien with a Reform Party opposition. A strong and responsible opposition can have a great influence upon a sitting government. The only way an opposition party can wield power though is to truly threaten the sitting government’s position in power. That position will not be attained if the opposition simply consists of demanding the resignation of ministers every time something happens under their watch.
Once an opposition party demands the resignation/firing of a government member, unless that member has done something huge, possibly criminal and totally unforgivable, that member will become even more deeply entrenched in government. Pride and political points come into play once a resignation is demanded. If a member is performing terribly and the opposition keeps hammering on and exposing those actions, that member may indeed eventually step down or be shuffled soon. Once a resignation/firing is demanded however, the chance of getting rid of that member goes from being simply unlikely to that of an icecube’s hope in hell.
Public cynicism with politics in general is growing. The indignant howlings by parties on all sides in legislatures both federally and provincially are adding to that growing disconnection between citizens and elected officials. Few actions can aid in that better than a frivolous call for a resignation/firing of a member. I am not suggesting that the legislature try to emulate the rainbow and lollipop approach to debate that the Alberta Party proposed (leading to their utter electoral slaughter). A heated and emotional debate in the legislature can be engaging and productive. That debate needs to be carefully crafted though and opposition will have to work carefully to guide that.
In coming to this legislative session the Wildrose Party can choose between two potential roles; it can accept that it has replaced the Alberta Liberals in a position of permanent opposition, or it can act as a true government in waiting that is currently serving in opposition. The second option will not be achieved if frivolous calls for the resignation of government members remain common.
I am looking forward to what I hope is one of the best legislative sessions that we have seen in a decade.
The card I modelled has the current cabinet along with a few backbench wildcards. I will continue to update and mark it as calls for firings/resignations from opposition members add up. The color of the stamp will represent which opposition party demanded the firing/resignation.
Lets hope that the card does not fill up with stamps quickly. I don’t really want this bingo card to be a blackout winner.