Duncan Wilcock

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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?