OTTAWA - A quick look at coalition governments over the years, both in Canada and elsewhere in the world:

Union government, 1917: Conservative prime minister Robert Borden, planning to introduce conscription to bolster Canada's ranks in the First World War, seeks coalition with independent MPs and Liberals.

Unionists win convincing majority in December 1917; coalition falls apart after the war and Liberal MPs unite in 1921 under William Lyon Mackenzie King. Union government remains only true example to date of a federal coalition government.

King-Byng Affair, 1925: Conservatives win 116 seats to 99 for King's Liberals, but the support of 24 Progressives allows King to hold on to power without having to form a genuine coalition.

Eight months later, King's request to dissolve Parliament is rejected by Lord Byng of Vimy, the governor general, who invites the Conservatives to form a government. King wins subsequent election in September 1926.

Provincial coalitions and alliances

Manitoba 1931: Premier John Bracken, leader of the United Farmers of Manitoba, forges alliance with Liberals in 1931. Union wins election in 1932 and later comes to be known as the Manitoba Liberals.

Manitoba 1940: Bracken broadens the coalition to include members from the Conservative Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and Social Credit. CCF drops out in 1943; coalition survives to 1950.

British Columbia 1941: Liberal government is reduced to 21 seats from 31, while Conservatives take 12 and CCF 14. Refusing to align with Conservatives, premier Duff Pattullo is replaced by John Hart, who presides over coalition of Liberals and Conservatives. Coalition collapses in 1951, minority government falls and 1952 election gives rise to the Social Credit party.

Ontario 1985: Frank Miller takes over Conservative leadership, wins only four seats more than David Peterson's Liberals. Peterson forms alliance with Bob Rae's New Democrats, who hold no seats but agree to support Liberals. Peterson goes on to win majority in 1987.

Saskatchewan 1999: NDP leader Roy Romanow wins a minority government and lures the three-member Liberal caucus into a coalition with a promise of cabinet seats. The government managed to stay in power for its full term and two of the Liberals ran for the NDP in the next election. The Liberal party in Saskatchewan has not won a provincial seat since

Some countries well acquainted with coalition governance

Germany: Chancellor Angela Kasner, chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), heads a coalition that includes the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Israel: No fewer than 18 parties are currently represented in the 120-seat Knesset, which is governed by a coalition of four parties -- Kadima (29 seats), Labor-Meimad (19), Shas (12) and Gil (7).

Ireland: Three parties form the current governing coalition -- Fianna Fail under prime minister Brian Cowen, John Gormley's Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, led by Ciaran Cannon.

Switzerland: A coalition of four major parties -- the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Democrats -- has governed in Switzerland since 1959.