Monday, February 06, 2006

Mining the (recent) archives: Conservatives on floor crossing

Much more to say later (need to work) on today's shocking news former Liberal David Emerson has gone turncoat and joined Stephan Harper's cabinet, but here's what I was able to easily find in about five minutes on how Conservatives feel about such activities. There's a lot more. Will they be as indignant about Emerson's warm, comfy fur?

Monte Solberg's blog, May 17, 2005 (on Belinda's crossing)

…Shakespeare so wants to be alive so that he can write about this. Its the story of a woman who cares so much about Canada that she is willing to sacrifice all kinds of personal relationships and her principles just so she can get to Cabinet…

...They care about her insights on skills training. Sure it will help to have her vote on the budget, but really it's her ideas they want. I bet those senior bureaucrats are salivating at the idea of doing a little "blue skying" with B. on the foreign credentials thing….

Good luck girl with those Liberals. If you can't trust them, who can you trust?

CBC Video: Harper on Belinda's defection

CBC News story, Harper blames MP's defection on 'ambition', May 17, 2005

"There's no grand principle involved in this decision, just ambition," Harper said.

...But he said it is Stronach who will now have problems – when she faces the voters in her riding of Newmarket-Aurora.

"This will ultimately negatively affect Belinda Stronach's chances of being re-elected," he said.

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord: This is just another action, another moment, that breeds cynicism of electors."

Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory: "I can confirm for you that I will no longer be campaigning for Miss Stronach."

Ontario Conservative Bob Runciman: "She sort of defined herself as something of a dipstick, an attractive one, but still a dipstick, with what she's done here today. She is, at the end of the day, going to paint herself as something of a joke."

Small Dead Animals, May 17, 2005, Stronach Splits

Belinda Stronach has crossed the floor to the Liberals, with a new cabinet post her bonus.

Well, we always knew she was a Liberal - they were just hagging over the price.

I wonder if she realizes how many new Western separatists she just created today with her comments about Conservatives not understanding the "complexity" of the country? That the party must "grow in Quebec" before it's a national party? I wonder if she understands that her defection speech will be interpreted as another slap by a self-serving and politically ambitious Ontario power broker at western aspirations to finally have an equal voice in Canada?

Probably not. The woman is that stupid.

CanWest News, December 17, 2005, Peter McKay Forges on

..."You know, crossing the floor, leaving the party at a critical juncture, I could never do that. I could never live with myself," he (McKay) says. "It's just not in my nature to bail."

..."I think I'll go home and walk my dog," he said at the time. "At least dogs are loyal."

House of Commons debates, on Bill C-251, a private members bill dealing with floor crossing, November 21, 2005

Mr. Ken Epp (Edmonton—Sherwood Park, CPC): …When a member who is elected as a Liberal decides that the Liberal ways just do not cut it and decides to, say, join the Conservative Party, this bill would prevent that member from doing that…

...I think one of the things that got me elected in 1993 was the stand of our party and me personally, that a member of Parliament has as a first obligation to represent the constituents who elected him or her.

...It is important for us to remember, whether we are Conservatives, Liberals or NDP, that our strength and our legitimization comes from the support of our constituents, which is why I propose that the bill would be improved if there were a clause in it that said that a member who leaves a party may sit as an independent and perhaps not trigger a byelection as long as he or she remains independent and does not align with another party, which would be opposite I believe the element of saying to the people that this person was elected under this banner and if he or she changes the banner then the constituents have the final say on it...

(Later, when a Liberal MP is trying to speak to the bill he gets interrupted by hecklers)

Mr. Charlie Angus: What does it cost to buy people to get them to cross the floor?
Mr. David Christopherson: What did Belinda cost?
Mr. Charlie Angus: And was given a big payoff.
Mr. Pat Martin: She took your spot in cabinet.
Mr. David Christopherson: That was going to be your spot.
Mr. Dave Batters: She only crossed to become a cabinet minister.


Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Nepean—Carleton, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of a bill that I believe would restore some accountability around this place.…

...When members of the House crosses the floor, I believe they break a contract, not with their political party but with their constituents. When a member of Parliament is elected to this place, he or she is elected with a party label, having made a commitment to serve with party's label attached to his or her name. Members of the public make their voting decision based on that commitment. Therefore, a contract is formed between the constituent and the member of Parliament.

As was the case for the member for Newmarket—Aurora, when a member crosses the floor, in particular to receive an inducement and be placed into cabnibet and be given a promotion and a raise, that is an example of a broken contract with the constituents with whom that person was elected to represent. For example, in this case, the constituency elected a Conservative and it got a Liberal. That contract was broken with the constituents in Newmarket—Aurora. I want to take this logic further.

I have a private member's bill of my own before the House which would further tighten the bond between the constituents and the member of Parliament. It would allow constituents to fire a member of Parliament if that member of Parliament broke his or her word, lied, cheated or stole. It would be conducted through a petition system and would require that 50% of eligible voters sign the petition, in exchange for which the member of Parliament would have to resign his or her seat and the riding would reopen for a byelection. It would be a very difficult process. We have 87,000 eligible voters in my constituency. That would mean one would need roughly 44,000 signatures on that petition, meaning the individual would have to have engaged in a massive violation of trust. But still, that resource should be there. Why? Because everyone else in the country has to be accountable for the job they do for their employer.

All my constituents go to work in the morning and if they lie, cheat or steal, they are fired. For elected officials, it is four years. In what other field could an employee lie, cheat or steal and then be fired only four or five years later? Why should we in the House of Commons, the House of the common people, live above the basic norms and rules that other employees live up to in their work? We should not. We should live by the same guidelines as everyone else.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


A BCer in Toronto said...

Sorry about the messed-up font size thing. I've been trying to fix it for 15 minutes without success, but I'm hungry and I'm going for lunch.

TonyGuitar said...

Objectively speaking, it's just plain crass when an industrialist minister crosses the floor to rescue a party going down for non-confidence.

It would seem more crass if the voting public knew the motive was not simply to gain a ministry position, but to control the Human resources ministry.

There, an industrialist can grease the skids under the feet of thousands of Magna empoyees so the majority are re-classified to full time, part time status, few if any benefits and no pensions to worry about.

Belinda advantage: Some people think she's not too swift. Caution! TG

Anonymous said...

There a few minor differences between the two, not the least of which is Emerson had no real commodity to sell. Belinda had a vote to sell, a vote that prevented the government from falling. Another is that Emerson is actually cabinet material. Politically, I always wondered why he joined the Libs in the first place. Belinda was bought, Emerson, I hope, went because he has something to offer as the Minister for the Olympics and the Asia/Pacific gateway, something he couldn't do in opposition. Does anyone remember anything the minister of complex files, the co-mininster of democratic reform did in her term?

I'd like to see this floor crossing stop but, as JC says, Goose and Gander baby!

A BCer in Toronto said...

I'm afraid you lost me Tony, are you saying Belinda used her ministerial powers to gain benefit for Magna?

An anon they are different, but not for the reasons you think. I'll expand on the topic tonight; for now I'll just say wrong is wrong. Politics aside, I know you know that.

fiddlefaddle said...

It's more than funny.
What will be interesting to watch though, is Emerson's riding. I've always had a sense that one can, 'mess around' (not the real sentiment I want to express) with any riding in the country and get away with it but mess around in Vancouver and brother, watch out; folks there take their politics REAL serious. Mr. Emerson may just have to become a citizen of Alberta (or Costa Rica to be safe) in the future.

durable1 said...

All the TV comments and news of the day is centered around David Emerson but maybe this is just another "good for BC" cabinet appointment where partisan politics are set aside for the greater good and a need to have representation from the largest City in Western Canada the gateway to Asia Pacific, 2010 and the list goes on. Emerson never was a partisan person anyway.
The hypocracy of making promises and then the sanctimonious phiffle of reneging on them is the lesson taken. Heck he even appointment someone who is not Elected, now that goes against the grain of the reformers.
Somewhere is a very politically astute person who has an understanding of the history of past Prime Ministers and their appointed Cabinets elected and non who is councilling the new PM and he is listening. Now, that's a good thing.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

What a blunder!

Just sworn in and Harper shows his arrogance and political immaturity in these ways. It should not really be a surprise to us, though: he is used to running things “my way or the highway”, and this breathtaking arrogance in doing a 180 degree turn on parliamentarians who change parties, really takes the cake!

And to choose Stockwell Day instead of boosting the number of women in his first cabinet: what message are you sending to 50% of the population, Harper – that being a white male with outdated social views makes you far more qualified for office than being a woman does? Watch your popularity amongst women slide by a handful or so of points on this one.

And so much for your platform of an elected senate ... just a bit too inconvenient right now, eh? Besides, voters are cattle – they won’t remember what you said if you now start saying something else ...

These crass steps just confirm the views of the voters in Canada’s big cities: don’t trust a man who runs a stealth campaign, hiding many of his policies.

Going to be a very interesting 12 months!

daninvancouver said...

Really, crossing the floor is old hat, I'd be more than willing to say 'Quit your crying' if not for a few facts:
There remains a HUGE double standard by these Conservative posters - that Belinda sold her 'vote'. In fact, the deciding vote in that crisis was cast by mr. Chuck Cadman, an IND. Now, looking at the standings in the house today, Mr. Emerson's defection raises the Tories + NDP total to one-vote short, meaning once again an Ind. could play the vital role. If Emerson wasn't selling his hide to prop up the gov't (He was a very good minister in PMPM's cabinet and will do a good job for PMSH if allowed) at least Harper was buying it. Getting 'Vancouver representation' in cabinet falls kind of deaf when he had James Moore, more than qualified, just 20 minute drive away...
And for those who think the bigger, more serious shocker that will be undercovered was in Fortier's appointment, I'm 100 per cent in agreement. A political hack appointed to cabinet. Nothing new if you were running on 'Same old, same old' platform. But Stevie Wonder wasn't. Does it come back to bite him? I hope so.

Scotian said...

I love how anonymous at 2:55 pm casually dismisses an MP's vote in a minority government situation as nothing to sell. Wow, what blazing contempt for government and the responsibilities that go with being an MP in the Parliament of Canada! Sorry, but many of the voters in this country actually think that does hold some significant value intrinsically and its value increases in a minority situation. I find it appalling that anyone would be so blatantly disrespectful of both Parliament and the average Canadian voter as that, especially when this appears to be a supporter of the new government.

This was a bad decision for the first day of the first CPC government in the history of the country. Combine this with Fortier which is far worse and you have a real nasty stink bomb and a piece of political ammunition for the length of the CPC's existence. Imagine, how many other parties can one truthfully say started their very first day in their founding government demonstrating their corruption, and say one thing in an election do another as soon as in power? This was the first freaking day! Not wise.

If Emerson had happened in isolation then maybe this would be a short term thing, but doing it in conjunction with Fortier will likely ensure it is remembered for a long time to come. The reaction I have seen so far to all of this from Canadians, admittedly still fresh and first blush, has been more negative than positive. What I find most telling is that outside of committed Conservative partisans of varying sorts is a near uniformity in negative reaction. That does not strike me as an auspicious beginning.

Anonymous said...

Here is a petition for Mr. Harper’s unelected friend, Michal Fortier, to resign his senior cabinet post until he runs in a by-election for a seat in the House.

Sign the Petition for unelected Michael Fortier to resign his cabinet post