Really? You think I'm wrong? Well, here's the results of every federal election from 1867-2000, provided by Simon Frasier Univeristy....
This is fun, I didn't realize I was talking to someone with so much knowledge about Canada.
Looking at those results, since 1945 the Liberals held Parliament for 45 years, while the Conservatives held Parliament for only 16 years. It is very much true that the Liberals are seen as the party of power, while the Conservatives are the alternative that are most likely to hold federal power. This is on account of the strong support that they command from the prairie provinces and rural ridings in general. But the conservatives are not the only alternative.
The NDP have never held a majority in Ottawa. But they do have parliamentary power, and have long been a voice in Ottawa that cannot be ignored. This is especially true when there are minority governments: when the last budget was being passed, the NDP vote was crucial to the acceptance of the budget. I remember people speculating what the NDP would demand in return for supporting the Liberals and their budget. You can bet that people remembered this during the past election when they considered whether or not their NDP candidate was a viable choice.
Canadians have given the NDP their chance to govern too. As I said earlier, the NDP hold two provincial legislatures - Manitoba and Saskatchewan. These are minor provinces? From 1990 - 1995 the NDP held Ontario legislature: this is a significant Canadian legislature and elections there are always hard fought. The NDP have shown Canadians that they are capable of winning a major election.
When I looked at my ballot during the last election I saw three candidates that if I voted for them, they would have a decent chance at representing me in Parliament. Actually, in my riding there was an independent that had some support - he could have been my MP too. The point is this: for me, it was not a matter of choosing between the incumbant (Conservative) and the other party. If I was unhappy with my MP, I still had a real choice for who I wanted in instead.
The conservatives have become increasingly conservative, and that disturbs most Canadians...
The reason the conservatives have had as much success at the polls as they did is because they reigned in their more radical elements, you said so yourself. True, Canadians were concerned that the conservatives would take the country in another direction if given a chance. So Steven Harper plays quiet, becomes the centrist. And the conservatives aren't giving an inch? Don't confuse American politics with Canadian politics. Here the conservatives have given up trying to ban abortion, and have promised to stay quiet about gay marriage. The conservatives understand that in order to hold Ottawa they need to be centrist, to not offend anybody and to appeal to as many voters as possible.
This is good for Canadian unity. This is how parties lose their partisanship. When Parliament reconvenes here, the Conservatives will reach out across the floor and offer to work with the Liberals to make this government work. The Liberals will take it, because that's how Parliament and especially that's how a minority Parliament works. I think that the experience of being in power will do much to moderate the Conservatives, and will go a long way to continue their swing towards the center.
Well if that's where most of you money comes from, why shouldn't those who foot the bill have a larger say? ...
I'm not sure where to start with this. Ontario and Quebec already have the larger say.. out of 308 seats in Ottawa, Ontario and Quebec have 181 seats. Is this not enough? Don't you think that these provinces are adequately represented in Parliament? I do not think that they need more say.
Yes, the industrialized, developed areas of Canada subsidize the poorer areas. No, I see nothing wrong with this. If we are talking about tax disparity though, lets talk about Alberta, who is really getting screwed by it. Alberta is flush with oil cash and gives to Ottawa far more than it gets back. Don't you think that the maritime provinces, whose fishing based economies have for so long been in decline need economic support from Ottawa more than Alberta? If these regions are to recover, how are they going to do so if they are allowed to sink further and further into poverty?
You are correct, these regions don't have nearly the population of the industrialized areas. And yes they should have a voice. But proportional representation would take away that voice, as they would simply be drowned out by the much much louder voice of the urban areas. For the sake of Canadian unity, the low population areas of Canada need to have their voice heard. Ridings are set up in the way they are for just that purpose. In Canada, when people start talking about seperation, there is a sense of real possibility. It was not that long ago that we became a nation, and there still is not any single event in our history to create a real sense of unity.
If Quebec seperates ...
I intentionally stayed away from the role of the Quebec separatists in Ottawa, and did not mention the Bloc as a viable alternative for voters. But all the same, yes, the Bloc vote is there and they have 51 seats in Parliament.
You are correct, if Quebec seperates (and I sincerely hope they do not) they will lose all of their subsidy monies from Ottawa and will find themselves heavily in debt with nobody helping them out. Seperation would do far more to harm French culture than it would help it. However, by seperating they would also take with them massive amounts of territory (the north, and Montreal being the two most significant) that do not support seperation. Canada would retain French as the second official language, in all likelyhood, as there are significant French speaking populations in the Maritimes, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Quebec won't seperate, they'll continue to talk about seperation. There are enough business minded people in the province that realize what that would mean for them, and they will keep a lid on it. Besides, even if they did get a majority in Quebec to support seperation, they would have to get the approval of the supreme court to actually do it. And we know how likely that is.
As you say, it's all just so much bullshit.
My suspicion is that the primary reason you would like to see proportional representation is because in that way the 'outside' parties would have a much larger chance at gaining at least a seat in Parliament, and votes for them would not be throw away votes. This is the reason why I would support a mixed proportional form of government. The Green party got 4.5% of the vote and not a single seat. Those voters should get at least a representative elected. But again, it would have to be moderated. Full proportional representation is not what we need.