Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A stupid voter that does not support the coalition.

Based off this. I'd need to register to comment there, so I'm doing it here.

This voter makes two basic errors. One she makes several times, and that's the claim that a coalition is undemocratic because Harper was elected. The stupidity of this has been rehashed again and again. But note that this voter mentions something about rewriting her "childs [sic] grade five textbook on politics". Which means that she wants to lie to her child about how politics work in this country.

There are coherent arguments to be made that we should reform our political system such that coalitions are not possible. But that's not the argument being made. The argument being made is that it's not democratic to have coalitions -- which is stupid (it uses a laughably limited conception of "democracy") -- and that's not how Canada works -- which is really stupid (because obviously false).

So, we see that ignorance about politics in Canada and how to argue about politics in Canada is not confined to Conservatives or even to them and the Liberals -- Greens can be dumb, too. (Which exposes how bad the coalition's messaging is.)

Second error is her claim, right at the end, that Harper should declare public transportation an essential service. AFAIK, he can't, for most transit systems, although he might be able to for Ottawa Transit, as it crosses a provincial border. But if transportation is an essential service, that doesn't eliminate service reductions, and it also screws the city but hard -- for the city would be on the hook for an agreement imposed by another level of government. But she doesn't see this; she only sees her own momentary inconvenience. An inconvenience, according to what I've read, that has been prompted by the madness of the city's mayor rather than the union.

I'm quite serious when I mention I have utter contempt for democracy in this country, given that people like this are part of the demos. Honestly.

28 comments:

Murray Reeves said...

A competent analysis. You are quite right when you say most people don't understand Canada's political system. It's also true that most don't understand physics, biology, or even their own religions.
The point of the blog though, in my opinion, is not the technical aspects of the argument, but interpretting the values expressed through it.
The truth about politics, and many of the issues we face today, is that even those that have deep technical understanding do not actually understand which position of the arguement is right, and which is wrong. The complexity of many issues make them, in the end, subjective.
What Karen really expressed on the question of the Coalition, albeit technically incorrectly, was a tremedous sense of unfairness. That is a valid position, even if you don't agree.
On the transit strike, commencing at Christmas, at a time when the economy is threatening many peoples jobs, is the same thing.
As much as we would like politics to be about logic, it has always been, and will always be, about emotions. It's taken me a couple of years to accept that, and to do it without being condescending.
What I mean is for complex issues where there is a reasonable argument for both sides of the question, the intuition that comes from ordinary people can be as, or even more, valid that the best technical argument.

ADHR said...

It's not a valid position unless there is some argument to support the claim of unfairness. Otherwise, what you're appealing to is "well, she feels like it's unfair", which goes nowhere. That's her feeling, yes, but it's just her feeling; unless I know her personally, her feelings have no valence at all for me.

The same applies to the transit strike. I see similar reactions to the TA/contract faculty strike at York, undergraduates complaining that it's "unfair". This is because it makes them feel bad, not because they have a coherent argument to show that the strike really is unfair.

I don't agree that folk intuitions are ever better than argument. The appropriate reaction when reasonable arguments are available on both sides of an issue is suspension of judgement pending better evidence or reasoning. Not picking one side because it makes you feel better. Politics is too important to treat it as a matter of personal taste.

Noni Mausa said...

"...that's the claim that a coalition is undemocratic because Harper was elected. ..."

Which was a claim sent out by the Conservative message-massagers about the time the Coalition first coalesced. The talking points were sent out so that the Con supporters could all phone up and utter this misleading garbage. (Montreal Gazette Link here: http://tinyurl.com/5qcgby and my frothing response here: http://thegallopingbeaver.blogspot.com/2008/11/fisking-tory-talking-points.html )

Why this spreading of deliberate falsehoods isn't a Public Nuisance or something, I'm sure I don't know.

Noni

Chad Moats said...

I don't think Murray was trying to say that people voting on emotion is good. I get the impression that he is just stating that it is a fact.

It may be unfortunate but it is true, generally people vote with their guts not their brains.

Ian said...

I fully agree with ADHR over Murray.

Yes people's opinions matter (esp. in a democracy), but sometimes people are just WRONG. There are facts about physics, biology, science, how politics work, and how unions work. Just because someone feels a certain way doesn't mean we should just grant them that.

People felt that homosexuality was wrong, but had no real arguments to back it up.

janfromthebruce said...

I find it interesting that "Karen" made her comments at the green party webpage, a party that strongly endorses the coalition, and is a party internationally with a history of working in coalition govts.
It also appears that Karen does not understand what level of govt does what. So transient is a municipal service.
Also it appears that Karen is being swept up by the "main message" of the "rightwing mayor" without delving deeper into the issue.

MadHacktress said...

Murray,

You said:
"It's also true that most don't understand physics, biology, or even their own religions."

And:
"What Karen really expressed on the question of the Coalition, albeit technically incorrectly, was a tremedous sense of unfairness."

My thought on the first statement is, basically, "know of what you speak". I don't go around blogging about quantum loop gravity because I don't really get all the concepts involved. I get politics: I have read the Constitution, the Canada Elections Act and other laws that govern the selection of our government and its operation. I think that is a minimum requirement for someone who wishes to blog about the technical aspects of government and politics. To express your opinion ignorant of such details is to expose yourself of being branded, well, ignorant.

Karen's expression of the unfairness of the coalition notion - which, as you stated, is perfectly valid - is blog-material enough to write up something grand. And it is to that quarter that she should have held herself without sufficient information and understanding of the technical aspects of government and politics.

There is no excuse for being ignorant of your own system of government, your religion or (at least basic) biology and physics for that matter; pardon the pun. Libraries have existed for thousands of years and the Internet ain't new.

Skinny Dipper said...

Personally, I thing the coalition is dead.

Shira Herzog write's in The Globe and Mail that in Israel "coalitions work best when they're dominated by one strong party." I would agree with this assessment. In Canada, if there were a strong Liberal Party in the House of Commons with the ability to choose either the NDP or Bloc as a coalition partner, the success of the Liberals continuing in power would be greater. Instead, a Liberal-NDP coalition with Bloc support means that any one of the the three parties can pull the plug on the coaltion. A signed agreement is only worth the paper that it is written on.

I do support the idea of coalition governments in Canada. I could even accept a Liberal-NDP coalition with Bloc support. I'm not sure it would last 18 months.

Murray Reeves said...

You fall into the trap of believing that logical arguments are intrisically correct, as opposed to just logical...;)

I've spent my career in the high tech industry, in very technically demanding manufacturing, and one thing you end up learning some interesting things. In my industry it is not uncommon for a situation to occur where, to fix an important and complex problem, an engineer suggests changing setting "A" with a commensurate logical argument, and a shop floor operator say "No, it should be "B"" for an illogical reason, but B turns out to be correct. In terms of determining the right course of action, the logical argument is incorrect, the illogical one was, so the world turns upside down, right?
Not really. For complex and human-opinion based issues logic is seductive, but the logic "winner" in such a circumstance may swing back and forth as new information or implications becomes evident.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing against logic, just that one should be careful because in these contexts they regulary oversimplify.
Now, regarding intuition: Too often this is considered "mystical" but in my opinion it is merely the expression of very complicated information and experience processing by a tremendously sopphisticated and logical "computer" called the brain. The output (in terms of words or arguments) can be very dissapointing at times because it can be expressed by the right side (emotional) instead of the left side) logical. One might say then that the message should be "written off" until it can be re-packaged into a logical argument, but that is naieve. It assumes that the issue at hand is no more than a mathematial equation with a right and wrong answer, and that is never the truth with politics - there is only better and not better (or worse), and those definitions can change depending on circumstances.
The ironic part is that once someone issues an illogical argument, the first people to get emotional about it are those that devote themselves to logic! The rational thinker searches for value in the perception offered.
When I got Karen's e-mail my first reaction was that she would probably react badly to a "logical" refute of her statement. I instead replied that I understood her frustration, and that we might agree that the real focus of Coalition issue was frustration that all parties were struggling over control instead of doing their job in important times (I'll post the exchange in a comment at the cmmgreens.ca site).
We could have argued over the accuracy and logic of her comment. Instead, her intuition on the subject can easily be re-stated as "Move off of this and on to something useful!"
I personally don't find the search for meaning in her comments any harder than wading into some peoples logic for the same objective...;)

ADHR said...

SD,

That's one sort of coalition. It's not the only sort. I pulled this from Wikipedia: "India's present governing coalition, the United Progressive Alliance, consists of 13 separate parties. In Finland, no party has had an absolute majority in the parliament since independence, and multi-party coalitions have been the norm. Finland experienced its most stable government (Lipponen I and II) since independence with a five-party governing coalition, so called "rainbow government". The Lipponen cabinets set the stability record, and were unusual in the respect that both moderate (SDP) and extreme left wing (Left Alliance) sat in the government with the major right-wing party (National Coalition). The current government (Vanhanen II) is a four-party coalition. Japan is experiencing coalition governments since 1990s, which came into existence in 1993 after the defeat of Liberal Democratic Party, and it is present till today. Israel's governing coalitions meanwhile can include up to nine parties and are notoriously unstable as a result."

So, as a factual matter, I don't see how it's true that coalitions work best with few parties.

Murray,

I think general opinion is against you here, but to continue.

I didn't suggest that logic was always right; I suggested that logic was superior to feeling. It's a matter of reliable procedures. If you follow a well-reasoned argument, then you'll, more often than not, end up at the right answer. A few exceptions doesn't refute the reliability of the procedure. Feelings are very often wrong (the systematic biases in human cognition, for example, frequently lead our initial reactions astray). The same goes for intuition. Intuition is driven as much by long-standing biases in cognitive processing as anything else, probably moreso. Intuitive reactions are thus little more than an expression of bias, and thus not worthy of much (if any) respect.

I really don't understand what you mean when you try to reduce logical reasoning to a "mathematical equation" with a "right and wrong answer". Logic is more than just an algorithm; I think you may be limited by your experience with engineers, whose understanding of logic may only stretch as far as formal procedures. Logic is much broader than that (see here, for example).

Furthermore, you contradict yourself in saying that there can be better or worse answers in politics, and these change with circumstances -- both claims that only make sense if there are right and wrong answers! If there is no right or wrong, then there is no sense to saying an answer is better or worse, and no sense to saying that circumstances can affect whether an answer is better or worse. How could it make sense? What could those claims mean if there aren't right and wrong answers?

ADHR said...

Chad,

Hence why a lot of people shouldn't vote. :P

Murray Reeves said...

...and to Noni: Karen voted Green, not CPC, in the last election.

ADHR said...

Murray,

Noni never said otherwise. She pointed out, correctly, that Karen was regurgitating Con talking-points.

Noni Mausa said...

ADHR said: "...regurgitating Con talking-points..."

Thanks.

And actually, regurgitating talking points is not even the real problem. I can see the value of having cogent arguments distilled into useful language and shared among adherents for the better presentation of their real views.

What really ****'s my ****, however, is when the talking points are either meaningless, or false to fact. The better they sound at first hearing, the worse this is. Filling up people's heads with such crap is like feeding them styrofoam. It's not nourishing in itself, and it also takes up space where real food could have gone.

There's a British criminal charge called "Grievous Bodily Harm." (GBH) I contend there should be another, called GIH -- "Grievous Intellectual Harm."

Noni

Murray Reeves said...

Somehow I screwed up and lost a post I intended for yesterday..I guess I'll start over...

I understand what she said, and you're statement is presumtuous. How do you know that Karen was regurgitating Con talking points? There were many groups and individuals that advocated the same position.

You're comments on "logic superior to feeling..." and the concept of "..more often than not.." support my point wonderfully. These are entirely subjective statements. In a situation where facts are largely known and relationships understood, then you are right - logical processes arrive at a correct answer (you may recall, however, that Bertrand Russell nearly killed himself trying to prove 1 + 1 = 2 from fundamental principles of logic, so it must be admitted that even apparently simple problems can involve quite complicated "well-reasoned argument"). In the case of very complex not-well-understood systems (this would be all but the most basic systems involving humans, for example), then the difference between a logical argument and a "hunch" is statistically insignificant, would you not agree?
Now, unlike you, I attribute a much higher value to the complex intangibles of cerebral processes in the second case. You may even pose that it is at its essence a "logical" process, which I would agree with, but that it is more statistical in nature and is not easily translated into a verbal logical argument.
Take the case Ian presents on homosexuality. People didn't just feel that homosexuality was wrong, they argued that it was. And many people believed it was logical given the subjective evidence presented. At the same time there were people that ignored the arguments and expressed compassion because the felt it was wrong.
Here's another one: Alan Greenspan spent decades dedicated to a "logical economic policy argument" that has turned out to be wrong.
The logical argument on low fat diets, followed for decades by eminent physicians, is now proven to be flawed.
Good judgement and leadership in complex circumstances is always a combination of logic and intuition. Intuition comes from experience, sensitivity, open-mindedness, compassion, and listening not to logical content of sentences, but to the emotional intent.

I guess finally to respond to a few of your specific points:
Re. "Contradiction": You keep missing my point. Better and worse answers obviously refers to the outcome, not the proposal. There is no contradiction here. In the proposal phase of policy for example, you are arguing that intuition has no value because you have a narrow and primitive definition of what intuition is. I am arguing that it can rise to or exceed that of "reliable processes" for proposals in a system where complexity and unpredictabiltiy make the "reliable" part meaningless.

ADHR said...

Murray,

It was a Con talking-point. That's where those claims started. You yourself admitted that she didn't advance that position based on actually thinking it through. So, I put to you: where did she get it from if not Conservative propaganda?

"Entirely subjective statements"? You're flailing. I gave you reasons, and you walked right by them. It's not subjective if you concede the point about reliable processes; if you don't concede that, then you need a counter-argument.

The same applies to your rejoinder about intuition. You don't understand how human cognition works; intuitive reactions arise from a variety of causal influences, many of which are demonstrably and uncontroversially sources of bias. Intuition is thus not reliable, and thus inferior to reasoned argument and evidence.

If "judgement" stands in for reasoning, then it is reliable; if it stands in for intuition, then its reliability needs to be demonstrated. Why is this hard for you to grasp? Intuition fails so often and so regularly that it simply can't be trusted.

WRT Russell, again, you're confusing logic with formal logic. Russell and Whitehead's (impossible) project was to prove the foundations of mathematics from principles of formal logic. Godel proved -- with mathematical logic, egads! -- that this couldn't be done.

And you're still contradicting yourself. If the outcome is better, then the proposal is more right than when the outcome is worse. Otherwise the nature of the outcome is mysterious and magical, and magic just doesn't exist.

Generally, I think you want intuition to be magical. A special, superior insight that comes out of nowhere. But it doesn't exist. Intuition is a snap reaction that rises out of biological and social antecedents in human cognition, in such a way that it is often significantly biased. Reasoned argument and debate is the only way we have of checking that bias and removing it from the process. Politics is no more complex than quantum physics (in fact, in some ways, it's a hell of a lot easier); if we want reason and evidence in the latter, we we have to, for the sake of consistency, use them in the former as well.

ADHR said...

Noni,

Feel free to swear your ass off. ;)

I hear what you're saying. It's hard to distinguish deliberate lies from innocent error, though. Hence why criminal fraud (the closest actual charge on the books) is so limited in its scope and so hard to prove. Unfortunately, the trade-off in allowing people to think as they choose is allowing them to think badly. What we need to do in education, then, is to encourage a taste for better, clearer thoughts and more sensible, better informed views. Then they're more likely to choose what's good for them.

Noni Mausa said...

Believe me, if swearing could reduce the mass of the outlying regions, the air would be blue right now.

"...the trade-off in allowing people to think as they choose is allowing them to think badly..."

Allowing me to bring up a Noni Talking Point -- "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but nobody is entitled to his own facts." The same goes for logical constructs.

Man, I wish we taught formal logic in school (grade 1 onwards.) People really truly do not know when an argument is bogus, or when a fact needs confirmation, or when a "news" article is actually somebody's talking point.

Example of the latter -- this piece from a couple of days ago from CTV

"Stephen Harper has tough words for coalition

Updated Mon. Dec. 15 2008 10:47 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Despite having to shut down Parliament to save his government from being toppled by a furious opposition coalition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled no punches when discussing his political rivals in a year-end interview with CTV Atlantic..."

NO! Really! This is news? Fercryin'outloud, Harper hates the other parties and wants to see them permanently moved to the Marianas Trench. Harper's tough words mean nothing, since the furious opposition parties have every reason to be mad, and every right to build a coalition. But news readers somberly report this. Why's nobody laughing?


Noni "That Is Illogical, Captain" Mausa

Murray Reeves said...

ADHR -

Once again, I say that you are missing, or avoiding, the point (intentionally, I suspect?).
I did not say that I thought intuition was magical (you invented that). Quite the contrary, I said I felt it was reasonable to think of it as based in logical processes. Nor did I say it was always superior to logical argument - just that in certain circumstances it could be.

You really are letting your emotions get the best of you in this discussion...:)

So how about we bring ourselves back to the real world from our theoretical wanderings. You started this off by the statement "A stupid voter that does not suport the coalition." my position was that the intuition was good despite errors in the "logical argument". Would you like to pose a logical argument in support of the coalition that would prove a better outcome?

ADHR said...

Noni,

Formal logic probably wouldn't do anything about that, unfortunately. Formal logic only tells us how to connect premises to conclusions such that the premises guarantee the conclusions. Bias or distortion fall under the heading of informal logic or critical thinking.

Murray,

No, I think I'm getting your point, but I suspect your views are not sufficiently coherent for you to realize that.

If intuition is based in logical processes, then there's no distinction between the two and we are not disagreeing. Since you seem convinced we are, I can't see any way to interpret intuition except as a magical process which operates by its own rules.

"In exceptional circumstances" is an instance of the no true Scotsman fallacy. You started by saying that a feeling of unfairness was a valid position (your terms, not mine), and now you're saying that only "in exceptional circumstances" is this feeling a valid position. Come on.

The intuition is not good. It's based in Conservative talking-points and serious ignorance about the workings of parliamentary democracies. In such systems, there is nothing undemocratic about a coalition government. You could, I suppose, interpret "democratic" to mean "not a coalition government" -- but that gets the result by definitional fiat. There is nothing unfair about a coalition government; it follows from a process that is, at least, reasonably fair, thus the result is fair.

There is possibly an argument to the effect that we should design our political systems to make coalition governments exceptionally rare, but I think the basis for this argument would have to lie in a failure to respect the value of open and honest debate. Coalition governments require debate and compromise, which is valuable in itself.

Murray Reeves said...

ADHR -

"If intuition is based in logical processes, then there's no distinction between the two and we are not disagreeing."

Thank you. You now have it - unless of course you want to argue that intuition has no logical component at all.

I understand that you are more about the technicalities of the argument than the suitability of the outcome. That is the happy space of theoreticians, and that's fine. I have great respect for logical processes, otherwise I would not have been an engineer.

Pragmatically though, I'm still waiting for a logical argument on the subject of the coalition that holds more value than Karen's emotional one.

ADHR said...

ADHR,

If there's no distinction, then you have no position. For intuition and logic are the same thing. That's the consequence of what you're now saying (which is not what you started with saying).

I don't understand what you're trying to say with this technicalities of argument vs. suitability of outcome business. I'm not particularly concerned with outcomes at all as I'm not persuaded that outcomes are fully within anyone's control. What we can control are processes, so we should use the best processes possible.

The last two paragraphs were such an argument. If you want to assert that they have "less value" than the emotional outburst, then you need to explain what value you're looking for. Otherwise you can just keep shifting the goalposts.

Murray Reeves said...

ADHR -

Once again, what I started with saying was that an intuitive position (with a poorly articulated logical argument) had value. You said it didn't. Now I'm not sure where you are, because in the last few posts, you've deftly avoided expressing any opinion all on the orignal subject, instead to argue about argument.

We are not making much progress now, so I'll just leave you with this little somewhat rude engineering joke that I once heard:

"Once there was an engineer taking a math course. The professor, who was not particularly enamoured with engineers, offered up a challenge to the class that was partly targetted at embarassing the engineer: "Here is a dillema for you to solve. You are forced to make a choice. You can have $10, or you can have access to a room with a beautiful naked woman in it at the opposite end of the door that can't wait to meet you. The only stipulation is that you are only allowed to travel half way to her every minute". One of the more enthusiastic math students immediately responded "I'd take the $10, obviously. If you can only divide the distance to the woman in half with every move, you will never get there". The engineer responded quietly "I'll take the room. I'll get close enough."

ADHR said...

Murray,

...you're not good at following complex (non-formal) arguments, are you?

Murray Reeves said...

You're right ADHR, if what you are doing is a (complex) non-formal argument. Every time I post something you take evansive action. Is that what non-formal argument is?

Why don't you make you're case for the Coalition (or against, if you choose)? Show me you're "process".

And by the way, hope you are having a happy and safe Holiday Season

ADHR said...

Murray,

You're really not making sense any more. "Evasive action"? Is that what you call it when I reply to your questions and your challenges? 'Cause it seems to me the evasive one is the guy who keeps moving the goalposts and changing his mind, without admitting he's doing it.

As I've pointed out once before (look four comments up), I've given you a pro-coalition argument (look six comments up). I'm such a nice guy, I'll copy it again:

The intuition is not good. It's based in Conservative talking-points and serious ignorance about the workings of parliamentary democracies. In such systems, there is nothing undemocratic about a coalition government. You could, I suppose, interpret "democratic" to mean "not a coalition government" -- but that gets the result by definitional fiat. There is nothing unfair about a coalition government; it follows from a process that is, at least, reasonably fair, thus the result is fair.

There is possibly an argument to the effect that we should design our political systems to make coalition governments exceptionally rare, but I think the basis for this argument would have to lie in a failure to respect the value of open and honest debate. Coalition governments require debate and compromise, which is valuable in itself.


I'll be even nicer and lay it out in bullet points for you:

(1) Anti-coalition arguments on offer are regurgitations of Conservative Party talking-points

(2) Coalition governments are possible within our democratic system, hence they are democratic

(3) Redefining "democratic" to rule out coalition governments is vacuous, as the result is obtained by stipulative definition

(4) Coalition governments are fair as they follow from a process that is (reasonably) fair

(5) If our political system should be redesigned to exclude coalition governments, then the value of open debate between differing views is lost; and this sort of debate is intrinsically valuable.

Right there, you have two counter-arguments (1 + 3), and two positive arguments (2, 4 + 5).

FYI, I'm well past bored with this. So, you have your pro-coalition arguments. We've put aside the epistemological and (philosophical) psychological questions about the status of intuitions. Do you have a reply to the argument -- and, again, this is the third time I've given it -- or don't you?

Murray Reeves said...

Hi ADHR - Miss me? Hope you had a Happy new Year.

Wow - Arguments, counter arguments, bullet form. Nice of you. I hope you haven't strained your condescention muscles.


Me, not being an academic like yourself, was looking for something really primitive, like "I, ADHR, support the ide of the Coalition because it will benefit the country in this way...".

Point 1 has no value. Why did you add it?

Point 2: Democracy is defined as the will of the people. Polls clearly indicated that a signficant majority of Canadians did not support the idea of the coalition taking control of parliament. What you refer to is that it was legal, not democratic.

Point 3 is redundant.

Point 4: "Fair" is a subjective term. Many people thought the process was "unfair". Stephane Dion was delivered an unambiguous message by the electorate that he was not welcome as Prime Minister. The Coalition would have installed hims as PM regardless of the will of the people. This would be unfair to the electorate. If popular support would have rallied behind the Coalition as a response to the actions of Harper you would have had a point.

Point 5: Your point is too broad. You would not lose debate between differing political views merely by outlawing coalition governments.

ADHR said...

Oh, don't worry. I've got lots more condescension in stock as, I see, do you.

I won't say "I support the coalition because it will benefit the country" as I'm not looking for a consequentialist-styled argument. That's one way to argue for it, but not the only way.

(1) has no value why, exactly? Because it's true and you're uncomfortable with it?

Your reply to (2) is bizarre. The "will of the people" can be measured in many different ways. A poll is one option, but not one that is considered to count in our system of government. Governments don't have to take any poll seriously except an election poll. Do you grasp this? Our system defines "democracy" in a particular way: whatever parliament decides, within the limits of the constitution, counts as "democratic". Other systems define this differently (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, wouldn't count as democratic any representative system nor any system of majority rules). You can't handwave towards the "will of the people", define it specifically in terms of a handful of opinion polls, and then declare that to be "democracy". As we take "democracy" in Canada, right now, coalition governments are democratic.

Regarding (3), no, it isn't. Again, this turns on your failure to see that "democratic" is a term understood in different ways by different people (and peoples, for that matter).

Regarding (4), "fair" is not subjective. I don't really care what people thought or felt. The process was fair (that is, the election was fair and the negotiations in Parliament were fair), thus the result was fair. That's what "fair" refers to.

That said, your claim that Dion received any message from the electorate about his suitability to be Prime Minister is laughable. Like Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion was elected as a member of parliament. That's all the election is capable of measuring. Your claim that the election indicated anything else is simply false: our elections don't do that.

If you're going to object to Dion being "installed" as PM, you should also object to Harper being "installed" as PM over the clear majority of voters -- that is, considering that most of the country didn't elect Conservative MPs, you should reject Harper's claim to be PM as well as Dion's. Of course, you don't, which suggests you don't take your own position particularly seriously. If the "will of the people" is important in the sense of majority support, then we should have gone back to an election -- repeatedly -- until we got one party with a majority of seats.

Regarding (5), the point is not that we have no debate whatsoever without coalition governments. The point is that we don't have debate at the level of government. Given how party discipline works in this country (as opposed to how it works in the US, where party members are freer to break with the party line), non-coalition governments don't have open debates between differing views.

Given that the Green Party is not going to form government in our lifetimes, I don't think you're appreciating that you want your own party's ideas to be ignored in government.