Till Elections Do Us Part: What makes a government coalition work?

A Canadian-European dialogue

On March 12, 2009, in the aftermath of Canada's Prime Minister proroguing Parliament to subvert the formation of a coalition government, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation co-hosted a one-day conference on the very idea of forming and sustaining coalition governments. The conference was entitled ' Till Elections Do Us Part: What Makes a Government Coalition Work?' and hosted academics and members of parliament from Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada.

The event was videotaped. To view the entire conference from start to finish (almost 5 hours,) click here. Otherwise, Click on the particular clip you'd like to watch by purusing the schedule below. Speakers' bios are listed below the schedule.

Part I ­ Before the Yes: How to build a solid base (chaired by Knut Panknin for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Clip 1: Introduction & Welcome - featuring Larry Brown (President, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives); Tony Martin (New Democratic Party Member of Parliament); and Meike Wöhlert (Canada Liaison Officer, Friedrich Ebert Foundation.)

Clip 2: Barb Cameron (School of Social Sciences, York University)

Clip 3: Dietmar Herz, (Comparative Government, Erfurt School of Public Policy)

Clip 4: Grant Amyot (Political Studies, Queen’s University)

Clip 5: Gerd Braune, (German Newspaper Correspondent in Ottawa)

Clip 6: Panel discussion (Chaired by Knut Panknin for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Part II ­ After the Yes: How to live happily (ever) after (chaired by Duncan Cameron, Past President, CCPA)

Clip 1: Introduction by Duncan Cameron (Past President, CCPA)

Clip 2: Berend Jan van den Boomen (Dutch Labour Party, The Netherlands)

Clip 3: Niels Annen (German Member of Parliament, Social Democratic Party)

Clip 4: Panel discussion (Chaired by Duncan Cameron, Past President, CCPA)

Clip 5: Marlene Jennings (Canadian Member of Parliament, Liberal Party)

Clip 6: Libby Davies (Canadian Member of Parliament, New Democratic Party)

Speakers' Biographies

Grant Amyot is originally from Victoria, B.C. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the Italian Communist Party, for which he undertook research in the field and at the Gramsci Institute in Rome. At Queen's, he has taught extensively not only in the comparative politics field, but also in political thought and the philosophy and methodology of social science. He has also co‐taught an Italian literature course. His primary research interest has always been Italian politics, but he has since branched out into the politics of the rest of Europe and the European Union. While originally focused on political parties and unions, he has also expanded his interests in recent years to include political economy and economic policy, which are the subject of his latest book. His current research involves attitudes to the European Union in Italy and the impact of the EU on the Italian political system.

Niels Annen has been an influential figure in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) for the past decade. He currently serves in the German Parliament representing Hamburg‐Eimsbüttel as well as in party leadership on the SPD Executive Board. MP Niels Annen is a foreign policy leader in the SPD and permanent member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Within the committee he serves on the Subcommittee for Arms Control and Non Proliferation as well as the Subcommittee for the United Nations. His work focuses on Latin America as well as the Middle East and Central Asia. He regularly travels to Lebanon, Afghanistan and other regions where Germany has invested military, financial and human resources. As an advocate for continued German commitment in Afghanistan and elsewhere, he supports multilateral engagement as a tool for resolving conflict and protecting fundamental human rights. Prior to being elected to Parliament he served as the Chairman of the SPD youth organization (Young Social Democrats). He studied History, Geography and Latin‐American Studies at the Universität Hamburg in
Germany and Universidad Complutense Madrid in Spain. Besides his native German, he speaks English and Spanish fluently.

Gerd Braune was born in 1954 in Toronto but grew up in Germany. After high school graduation, he began working as a journalist from 1973 to 1976 at the Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz. He studied Law and Political Science at Trier University from 1976 to 83 and then worked for Associated Press in Wiesbaden. He later changed to the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper in Frankfurt on the News Desk before moving to Canada in 1997. Gerd Braune is a dual citizen of Germany and Canada and writes for a variety of national and regional dailies in Germany (Frankfurter Rundschau, Handelsblatt, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, Berliner Zeitung and others), in Austria (Die Presse), Luxembourg (Luxemburger Wort) and Switzerland (Basler Zeitung).

Barbara Cameron is an Associate Professor of political science at York University where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Canadian government, comparative and Canadian social policy, and gender and public policy. She has a PhD from the University of Toronto and is currently completing an LLM through Osgoode Hall Law School. Her primary research focus has been on social rights and public policy and she has published articles on trade, labour market, and social policy, as well as on constitutional issues. The challenges of achieving a progressive  policy agenda led to her recent interest in the institutional obstacles to the realization of social rights. As part of a SSHRC‐funded Community University Research Alliance project on “Social Rights Accountability”, she has been studying the democratic accountability problems of doing social policy through intergovernmental agreements, focusing particularly on child care agreements. Her most recent publications are in the area of federalism and social rights.

Libby Davies was first elected as Member of Parliament for Vancouver East in 1997. Re‐elected in 2000, again in June 2004, 2006, and most recently in 2008, she is the Deputy Leader of the NDP, and has served as NDP House Leader since  2003. Libby is also the federal NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Reform and Solicitation Laws. Her history as a strong community activist for Vancouver East began over 30 years ago. She and her late partner, Bruce Eriksen, were key  figures in the formation of the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association (DERA) in 1973. In 10 years of community organizing, Libby developed her strong grassroots approach to working with people and diverse communities. Libby has received awards from organizations such as the Capital Xtra's Community Achievement Award for Political Activist of the Year, the YMCA Peace Medal Award, the Vancouver and District Labour Council's Syd Thompson Award, and most recently, the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law, for her work on drug policy.

Dietmar Herz is the founding director of the Erfurt School of Public Policy and holds the chair for comparative government at the University of Erfurt, Germany. Having been Vice‐President for Studies until November 2001, he served as the University’s Vice‐President for International Affairs and Research until May 2006. Before taking up his current position, he served as Professor for Political Science at the University of Bonn, Distinguished Visiting Fulbright Professor for German and European Studies at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee), Lecturer for Political Science at Ernst‐Moritz‐Arndt‐University (Greifswald), and Visiting Professor at the Helmut Kohl Institute for European Studies of Hebrew University (Jerusalem). Dietmar Herz holds an MPA degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied political science and public administration. He also studied political science, law, philosophy, and history at the Ludwig‐Maximilians‐University in Munich and the London School of Economics. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Munich, where he also passed the state examinations in law.

Berend Jan van den Boomen, born in 1948, worked more than 35 years for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). He was active on local, national and European level and worked in the party headquarters. He was chief of staff of the party leader and director for international affairs of the party. From 1990 until 2003 he was director of the Alfred Mozer Foundation, the foundation of the PvdA for international political schooling and training and gave (and is giving) trainings in many different countries. Apart from his work for the party, he worked for a consultancy and as an independent (political) consultant. He published a manual about political training and wrote several articles about political issues. Nowadays, he lives in France.

Marlene Jennings was first elected as a member of Parliament for Notre-Dame‐de‐Grâce – Lachine in June 1997, and was re‐elected in November 2000, in June 2004, in January 2006 and in October 2008. Ms. Jennings’ multi‐disciplinary experience has been garnered through positions with both the public and private sectors. She has earned over nine years professional experience in the area of policing, first as a member of the Quebec Police Commission (1988‐90) and  then as Deputy Commissioner for Police Ethics for the Province of Quebec (1990‐97). Ms. Jennings has gained years of community and professional experience with employment equity and communications for women, aboriginal peoples, and ethnic and racial minorities. Her experience at the trade union level through work as a shop steward and in human resources management has allowed for a heightened awareness of management constraints and their impact on industrial relations in both the private and public sectors.

The luncheon for this conference was sponsored by the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation. The reception was sponsored by the German Embassy.

Media sponsor: rabble.ca

March 12, 2009