Saturday, February 17, 2007

Intolerance, thy name is Steve Harper

We were talking the other day about the tolerance for diversities of opinion in Canada's Newish Government. More evidence today (h/t Cowboys) that it's Steve's way or the highway, as a B.C. Conservative MP is booted from his committee assignment for refusing to tow the party line.

The Vancouver Sun reports that John Cummins (CPC Delta-Richmond East) has been punted from the HoC's standing committee on fisheries and oceans for raising concerns about the government's proposed legislative changes to the fisheries act.

Cummins and other critics allege that proposed changes to the Fisheries Act will cripple the public fishery, turning it into a privilege rather than a right, and will weaken fish habitat protection while giving a boost to the fish farm industry.

Now you might think it's the job of Members of Parliament and committee members to examine the legislation before it and raise any concerns they may have. Not, however, if you're a Conservative MP. Then you just shut-up and vote like a good little robot.

I love this quote from Jay Hill, who gives new meaning to the term Conservative Whip, as he explains why he made his own MP walk the plank.

You can imagine how it would look…if, at committee, we were to lose the entire bill because of one vote, and it was Mr. Cummins vote. “I would have a tough time explaining that the to the prime minister.”

Indeed, Steve might send Jay to bed without dinner, or worse, give him a spanking. I suppose trying to convince John, find a compromise or offer an amendment or two, would be just crazy talk.

Anyway, since they've kicked a B.C. MP off the fisheries and oceans committee who do you think the Cons got to replace him? Maybe another BCer, or a Maritimer, you know, someone with some from an area where there are, perhaps, fisheries and oceans?

That would make sense, but no. Someone with some knowledge of the issues might not just shut-up and vote. Cummins' replacement?

Cummins was replaced by rookie Alberta Tory MP Blaine Calkins.

Reminds me of this. Not many oceans in Alberta. If it wasn't so sad it'd be funny.

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Anonymous said...


Dion is refusing to listen to his own experts, party members, the victims of Air India, IS "tolerant"?

Sorry BC'r, but the public simply isn't buying your liberal spin.

What they are seeing is that little dogmatic Dr. Did Little is a far left radical zealot, taking his party further left than the NDP.

- comply with Kyoto? (economic catastrophe be damned)

- banning men in ridings?

- repealing own terrorist legislation to the dismay of seasoned veterans in party?

- tax cuts are useless?

- workers in the oil fields are just going for "easy money"?

Yikes, and yikes.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Heh.. as usual.. when a very valid criticism is brought out, a Tory supporter tries to avoid the subject entirely and issues red herring statements.

Anonymous said...

silly scott,

I'm sure you'd like to think that voters will just look at criticism of Harper, in isolation, and not juxtaposed to the alternative,

but the sad reality is that the voters have no choice but to examine both, as we approach the upcoming election.

Sad, for the Libs that is. Because in a side by side comparison,

it ain't even close.

So while you and your liberal friends gather here, and criticize Harper in your comfee cocoon,

the rest of the world will actually be comparing him to Dion, and no doubt wondering how the hell he became leader of the "natural governing party".

Jeff said...

I remember a time when the CPC wanted to be seen as better than the LPC. Now, their message seems to be they're bad too, just not quite as bad. Real inspirational stuff. But anyway, chuckles, back to the issue at hand. Are you ok with Cummins being fired from the committee?

Anonymous said...

Fine with it. In our democracy the voters will decide if the policies of Harper's government are something they want or don't.

And if a bunch of senior conservatives started coming out in opposition to Harper on this issue, that's something the public would/should take seriously in deciding what is best for Canada.

But who's whipped or not? That's inside politics that Canadians don't really care about.

Anonymous said...

Well, William Johnson who wrote a book on Harper and at first was impressed with him seems to have changed in mind - he says politics (via the Conservatives) have hit an all time "low".

I remember watching Johnson in an interview about Harper saying "he doesn't like the man" - hmmm quite a change of heart.

And, we all know why.

Nasty means leadership? Bully means leadership? Well, Hitler, Stalin, Bush - all nasty bullies and we all know how that turned out.

The public haven't overwhelminly supported Harper after one year - this is bad for him. They don't like his policies.

wilson said...

Open party revolt is tolerance, and party discipline is intolerance?

Maybe in the small world of blogging, where we all nitpik.
But in the big world of governing, we'll see how that plays out for Dion.

Dion wants women NDPers to cross the floor, on the heels of luring a very rightwinger, Garth (an anti-floorcrosser) to cross the floor.

If Dion thinks Dippers and Cons can work together from within the LPC, it also leaves the impression that it is acceptable for Dippers to work with Cons OUTSIDE of the LPC.

Jack Layton will run with that illustration, Dion planted the seed.

Anonymous said...

And comments like the above referencing Hitler et al to Harper,

shows just how wacky and irrisponsible, not to mention obviously ignorant to the true horrors associated with those individuals,

many in the Liberal fold are. Sadly, it appears that such radicals are the one's Dion appears to try to be wooing.

Again, yikes.

susansmith said...

So from the sounds of the above thread - the cons are as bad as the libs - people will just have to vote NDP. Sure can't be any worse than the two lead party's trying to fight over who was worse, or least worse.

susansmith said...

And the con MP from BC being replaced by a MP from Alberta on Fisheries is stupid. It's the Harper govt and its followers, or else!

Anonymous said...

The Hitler, Stalin (which Harper does study by the way), Bush are example of "personality traits" you ying yang. Why would anyone listen to someone who calls himself "Chuckles" anyway.

It's guy like Chuckles that add to making to neo-con supporters seem wacko.

And, where are the complaints about the Conservatives trying to woo Liberals like Ruby Dhalla and others? Huh? Double-standard?

canuckistanian said...

good catch bcer.

harper is flip-flopping more than a fish out of water. from "race-based fisheries bad" to "constitutional rights of first nations good" faster than you can say prolific panderer who'll do anything for power. i don't know if it is projection or cognitive dissonance or what, but the cons are doing everything they once decried about the big bad entitled liberals.

canuckistanian said...

i suppose, i should say, i disagree with most of the thrust of your argument, as they had to get rid of that nutbar cummins...but bringing up the flip-flop was gold.

Walks With Coffee said...

BCer, you are a fantastic blogger but on this one you are only half right - just on this particular post.

john cummins is a political nut bar and time bomb, but not just for the CPoC: His views are the enemy of aboriginals, BC fisheries, and Canada's management of fishing in general; Cummins’ opinions are just wacko so it is good he is out.

On the other hand, the CPoC will pursue his policies even though he is not upfront anymore… instead the CPoC will now use its established pattern of "Big Lie" propaganda where they say they will manage responsibly but in the end fight for John Cummis' perspective

i.e. practically it might have been better to have the wacko views as visible as Cummins makes them, on the other hand wacko views should have a tougher time getting into the mainstream media so people are not flooded with his type of nonsense…. hard call on this one.

Jeff said...

john cummins is a political nut bar and time is good he is out.

Oh I agree, he's a nutbar. I don't like him, or his views. Let me say this though: he's their nutbar, and they have been just fine with his nutbar views for many, many years, and knew them when they put him on the fisheries committee. He's a veteran MP. They were fine with his nuttiness, and he was hardly out of the Reform mainstream, until he disagreed with him on this particular piece of legislation. That's when they decided he had to go.

Anonymous said...

Dear voters of Richmond and Delta:

If John Cummins has been kicked off the Fisheries Committee, is never going to be in cabinet, and is no longer allowed to critisize, nor will his party do anything he says:

What's the point of electing him or voting Conservative anymore????

Budd Campbell said...

You know, this is really ridiculous Red/Blue positioning, all of it. Arguing over minutiae hardly begins to describe the manufactured nature of these discussions.

Consider Jeff's admission that Cummins views are far from his own. Then consider that Jeff can't be bothered to state his views on fisheries issues because he doesn't have any.

Jeff doesn't tell us that Cummins was charged under the Fisheries Act and taken to trial when his Liberals were in office for engaging in an illegal protest fishery.

Jeff doesn't tell us what the latest Liberal position is on the West Coast wild salmon fishery, and won't tell us how deep in bed Dion and Marissen are with the foreign-owned salmon farming companies.

For partisan bloggers the internet is just another extension of TV generation idiot box politics. Infotainment and nothing more.

Jeff said...

Budd I have plenty of views on fisheries issues, and I've expressed them in other threads in the past. This post, however, wasn't about fisheries issues per se. It's about the Cons kicking one of their own MPs off the committee because he wouldn't tow the party line. Is that perhaps inside Ottawa talk, or inside baseball? Maybe, but this isn't CTV News, it's a blog on politics.

I gather neither of us are big Cummins fans, but I think the fact the Cons were willing to tolerate his views for so long, and put him on the fisheries committee knowing them, means that has little to do with his ouster. He was ousted because he refused to tow the party line on this legislation, and when it comes to the question of the role of MPs and their responsibilities to both their party and their constituencies, I think that sends an interesting signal, and discussing it certainly isn't out of place.