Post-election day, I went in search of a Canadian newspaper. First stop was a Borders bookshop near our hotel. When I asked, the lady at the counter said, "I understand they had an election." That's why I'm looking, I told her. "I also understand the Canadians voted in a conservative government." Yes, I said, they've won a minority. "Well, I'm sorry for you," she said.
I cleared my throat and said that while this wasn't the government I voted for, I was actually quite pleased with the overall election results. "Just don't join us in Iraq," she said. That wasn't likely to happen with a minority government, I told her.
"'Minority government' -- what does that mean?" she asked. I started explaining how the House of Commons was (currently) set up to accomodate three political parties, and though the Conservatives held the most seats, they didn't hold a majority. Thus, if they were keen on, say, sending Maritime boys ... sorry: our troops to Iraq, an election would likely be called and the Conservatives would likely experience a backlash.
"So it's kind of like us," said the lady. "You hold elections every couple of years."
I searched her face for signs of comprehension, then finally closed my mouth, swallowed and said, "Yeah, pretty much."