Sunday, May 1, 2011

Death By Social Studies

Me: [ reading planner] It says we are supposed to discuss the election.
Jackson: Oh yeah. I am suppose to learn about politics.  For socials.

Me: [while googling] Okay, the country is divided into 300ish areas which they call ridings.

Jackson: What?

Me: The country is divided into 308 areas called ridings. 

Jackson: Why are they called ridings?

Me: I have no earthly idea.

Jackson: Oh.

Me: And each riding votes for the person they want to be in the government.

Jackson: And that will be the Prime Minister?

Me: No they have parties. There are 5 main ones.

Jackson: The parties elect the Prime Minister?

Me: Well, kind of. Each party elects a leader.

Jackson: And the leaders elect the Prime Minister?

Me: No, each party has a person run in whichever ridings they want.

Jackson: How do they decide?

Me: Well the big parties run one in every riding but the Bloc Quebecois just run in Quebec?

Jackson: Why?

Me: Well they want Quebec to separate and be its own country so they only run in Quebec.

Jackson: That would be a very small country.

Me: Yes, well the other parties run candidate's everywhere.  And whichever party has the most candidates forms the government.  And makes up the laws.

Jackson: I thought the Senators made up the laws.

Me: Well, the Members of Parliament really decide. The Senators vote on it and sometimes try to improve the laws.

Jackson: So the Members make up all the laws?

Me: Unless it's a minority government.

Jackson: Huh?

Me: If one party has the most Members, but not more than everyone else put together it's called a minority.

Jackson: Huh?

Me: Let's say the Conservatives, who have a minority government now, decide they want to pass a law that all grade 4 kids have to shave their heads. They would write up a law and present it to Parliament. And the other parties would decide if they thought it was a good idea.  If the Liberals, NDP, Bloc and Green parties all decided that it would not be a good idea, it would not become a law.

Jackson: So what happens to the government then?

Me:  Well, the Conservatives could only pass laws where they got some people from the other parties to agree with them.  If a law was not passed nothing happens. Unless it's a matter of confidence.

Jackson: [facepalm] Huh?

Me: If it something really important, like a budget where they are deciding how to spend the government's money, if the Conservatives don't pass it, the government ends and an election happens. That is just what happened. There was an important vote and the Conservatives lost and we have an election.

Jackson: Oh.  How do the parties work again?

Me: Each party runs candidates in all the ridings.  The party with the most candidates elected will form the government.

Jackson: So you're saying the parties join up with the ridings and elect the Prime Minister.

Me: No [grabbing newspaper] in every riding you'll have several candidates.  See hew is the picture of the 4 candidates in our riding. Tomorrow, when Daddy and I go to vote, these 4 names will be on a piece of paper and we put an X by the person we want to vote.

Jackson: And that will be the Prime Minister?

Me: No, that means that party gets one Member of Parliament

Jackson: What about the Prime Minister?

Me: Each party elects it's own leader. The leader of the party with the most Members will be Prime Minister.

Jackson: So the party with the most votes gets its leader to be Prime Minister.

Me: No, the party with the most Members elected.

Jackson:  But if our riding elects someone to the Conservative Party, then that would be one vote for the Prime Minister from the Conservative Party? And the party with the most votes would have the Prime Minister?

Me: Close enough

Jackson: I get it now.

Me: [congratulating myself for not having to explain coalition governments] Phew.

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