After two federal elections in less than two years, it?s understandable Canadians are anxious to avoid another trip to the polls anytime soon. Many are asking me ?what will be different about this minority Parliament and why do I think it will survive any longer than the last one??
Ironically, it?s both the old and the new elements in this 39th Parliament that I believe will help its success.
First the old. The House Leaders and Whips of the four political parties meet daily to discuss upcoming legislation. Negotiations among these eight MPs, and their senior staff, play a large part in whether a government and Parliament not only survives but ?works? in the best interests of Canadians.
Fortunately, seven of those eight individuals from the last Parliament will remain at the table. Government House Leader Rob Nicholson and I, as Government Whip, have already formed strong personal relationships with our counterparts in the other parties. Only Ralph Goodale will replace the defeated Tony Valeri as Liberal House Leader.
Which brings me to what?s new, or different, this time around. In this Parliament, Mr. Nicholson and I take over leadership at these daily meetings. I can assure you the day-to-day operations of this minority government and Parliament will be served well by the very strong sense of humility we accumulated throughout 13 years in opposition.
Part of the previous Liberal minority government?s downfall was its ?residual arrogance?. They tended to forget they no longer had a majority and continued to act a bit like the school-yard bully when dealing with the opposition parties.
Why does this matter? Well, despite the hazards of working within the ?Ottawa bubble?, parliamentary relationships are no different than our relationships in everyday life. It?s not simply what you say to your spouse, your children, your friends or your colleagues ? it?s ?how? you say it. Respect, humility, and open communication go a long way in making a relationship work.
Already, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have stated they view their upcoming relationship with our new Conservative government as positive and hopeful. Only interim Liberal leader Bill Graham has uttered some ?sound-bites? of aggressive political posturing.
However, in the last parliament, some credible Liberal cabinet ministers brought forward initiatives never acted upon by former Prime Minister Martin, consumed as he was with his political survival. I am confident we can work well with many of those same Liberal MPs.
In fact, we?ll get started this coming Monday with the three-hour televised hearing where MPs will question the new Supreme Court Justice nominee, selected from a list compiled by the former Liberal government. Prime Minister Harper has signalled a new way of open government and leadership through these hearings that allow Canadians to get to know the men and women who have a significant impact upon our laws and society and our very future as a nation.
It?s all about transparency and what I call the ?Triple C?s?. That?s the formula I believe will establish the basis for this Conservative minority government?s success: Communication + Consultation = Cooperation.