Duncan Wilcock

duncan@wilcock.ca
T: +1 (604) 379 0224

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Adversarial Model of Government

Someone something out to me the other day. Something fundamental about the Canadian system of government and how the "House of Commons"/Legislatures work. The current party system, where one party forms "a government" and the other parties form "the opposition" operates in a fundamentally adversarial fashion.

She contrasted this model with a "co-operative model." I thought I would pontificate briefly on this thought. Personally, I like the term "collaborative" and I'm going to throw out the terms competitive & conflict-based while I'm at it.

Collaborative in my book is the process of working together towards a common goal. It brings to mind co-operation for me, but strictly speaking I think I wouldn't exclude conflict/adversarial based collaboration, and I would definitely include competitive collaboration.

I can actually see each of these types of collaboration at work in the current system. Election is a competitive model, where candidates compete for the most votes in a given constituency. The House itself definitely operates in a conflict/adversarial way. I think that's related to the party system - this arbitrary definition of "a government" and "an opposition" - terms which are meaningless to me in a non-majority situation. Perhaps if all candidates were independent, there would be more co-operation (and competition) in order to build enough support to pass legislation. Such a model might move more slowly than a majority government, but then again - what's the rush?