Inter-party voting coalitions in three minority cabinets were analysed: the 38th (2004–05), 39th (2006–08) and 40th (2008–11) Federal Canadian Parliaments. The paper begins by developing a simple theory to explain the formation of voting coalitions. The theory predicts that electoral incentives and policy issues drive minority government support. The main contention is that voting coalitions are more likely to form along ideological lines, as proposed by Axelrod [(1970) The Conflict of Interest (Chicago: Markham)]. However, the analysis also demonstrates that voting coalitions form along a second dimension in the Canadian Parliament, mainly on issues related to federalism and the province of Quebec. Some evidence is also provided to show that expected electoral gains could explain why certain parties choose to support the government more, despite ideological incentives.