Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Conservative cabinet ministers jumping ship: Emerson, Hearn head for the lifeboats

From coast to coast, Conservative cabinet ministers are jumping-off the floundering ship of state that is Stephen Harper's cabinet. OK, it's only two ministers, but they're on opposite sides of the country so it's still an accurate statement. I hear Ryan Sparrow says they're leaving because they hate The Green Shift.

First, on the right coast (if only geographically) we can say goodbye to fisheries minister Loyola Hearn of Newfoundland, who is expected to shortly announce his retirement and his intention not to run in the imminent election:

Hearn is retiring after spending decades in politics as a Newfoundland provincial cabinet minister and later as a federal Tory MP and cabinet minister.

He served as education minister in the province before joining the federal Progressive Conservative party. He then became the first House leader for the new Conservative party.
In the last year, Hearn defended Newfoundland and Labrador's seal hunters after the European Union threatened a possible ban on seal products from Canada.

Hearn also weathered several attacks from Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams over Ottawa's equalization formula for the provinces. Williams has said he will do everything in his power to defeat the federal Tories.

Has Danny claimed his first casualty in his war on the Harper Conservatives before the election is even underway? Just days ago, Loyola was full of piss and vinegar, sticking-it to Danny-boy hard and looking ready to go down fighting:
In his statement, Mr. Hearn took a swipe at the government led by Mr. Williams on a number of issues, including the quality of drinking water in the province after a series of boil water advisories were issued.

It also appeared to dismiss Mr. Williams as a threat to the federal Tories.

“Voters will make up their own minds as to how they will vote in the upcoming federal election, whenever it will be, based on what's best for their families, their communities and their wallets,” Mr. Hearn said.
Maybe someone pointed-out to Loyola that attacking someone over boil-water advisories when your government is under fire to having advocated lower listeria and food safety standards just before a major public health crisis that has now claimed at least 12 lives is kind of a bad idea.

Hearn always seemed like a decent guy, so I wish him well in his twilight years. One can't help but wonder though if he's getting while the getting is good. With Danny on the war-path and Harper's broken equalization promises, the Conservatives could be facing a wipe-out in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And is this a sudden decision on Loyola's part? Generally, if a minister doesn't intend to seek re-election, they inform the PM before the last cabinet shuffle so some fresh talent can get a shot at the cabinet table. Then again, looking at the weak Harper front bench, Hearn probably had to stay on.

Emerson de-elects himself

Meanwhile, back out on the left coast, the best coast, Harper is losing the only B.C minister he had that had demonstrated any competence (OK, Stockwell Day hasn't jet-skied anywhere, but that's grading on a curve) with David Emerson's apparent decision to call it quits:

Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson, one of the bright stars in the Conservative cabinet, will not be running in the election expected to be called on Sunday, CTV News has learned.

Emerson won the riding of Vancouver Kingsway in the last election and switched to the Tories when Stephen Harper formed a government.

He was unlikely to win this working class riding as a Conservative although the party was prepared to find him a safer riding.

But sources say Emerson decided he didn't want to make the lengthy commute back and forth to the capital.

Emerson is considered to be one of the most experienced cabinet ministers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. As the minister of international trade, he managed to reach a softwood lumber agreement with the United States, ending a long-simmering trade dispute.

By reach a softwood lumber agreement, they mean surrender a billion dollars in fines illegally collected by the U.S. from our cash-strapped lumber producers and turn it over to their competition in the States to launch more legal attacks on our industry. A real victory for Canada, that was.

This isn't really a surprising decision by Emerson. He never really liked politics or campaigning. Being a cabinet minister, he liked though. I'm almost sad to see him not run again just to see, if he won re-election and the Liberals formed a government, if he'd try to cross back over again. Perhaps he's already been told not going to happen?

He likely wouldn't have won re-election anyway, not as a Conservative, but it's still good news for Wendy Yuan, our Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Kingsway who has been working hard on the ground for some time now to re-claim this riding for the Liberals. Good news also for Liberal MP Joyce Murray in Vancouver Quadra, another riding where Emerson was rumoured to be landing.

And across the country, it's not looking good for Harper ministers. Emerson and Hearn, gone voluntarily before they could lose at the polls. Tony “foot in mouth” Clement in trouble, and both John "you can't see our green plan but trust me its super-awesome" Baird and Jim “I hate my province” Flaherty will be in real fights. Even poor Senator Michael Fortier has to actually run for something now. And Peter McKay better hope Elizabeth May gets kept out of the leader's debates.

Hopefully the last one out will turn off the lights.

New Liberal candidate

Meanwhile, in Liberal-land, we're actually gaining candidates:

REGINA - Former Regina City Police Chief Calvin Johnston will be the Liberal candidate for Palliser, Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion announced today.

“I am proud that Calvin Johnston has decided to run as the Liberal candidate for the riding of Palliser,” said Mr. Dion at a press conference in Regina. “As former Chief of Police of Regina, Mr. Johnston understands that the most effective way to tackle crime is not simply through tougher prison sentences, but it is also about addressing the root causes of crime. This is why Mr. Johnston was so successful in making Regina a safer place.”

Born and raised in Regina, Mr. Johnston became Chief of the Regina Police Service in September, 1998, after serving in the Calgary Police Service for 18 years.

With the retirement of incumbent David Batters (who has been dealing with health issues and who I wish well), Johnston running for the Liberals makes Palliser an interesting race. A former police chief coming on board also makes it harder for the Conservatives to attack the Liberals on law and order issues, although I have every confidence my Conservative friends will rise to the occasion, so to speak.

UPDATE: The news that launched a thousand ship sinking metaphors. Or at least three. But it's still early. Give us time.

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Unknown said...

Dude, at their age, maybe they're retiring since they're at their retirement age.

penlan said...

Can't say I'm unhappy that Hearn & Emerson are leaving. Although I think Emerson was the best qualified member in Harper's cabinet. But his crossing the floor immediately after the last election was deplorable.

That is sad news on Batters problems & I wish him well.

RuralSandi said...

..dude at their age.... Gosh, the same consideration wasn't given to the older Liberals that didn't want to re-run.....Tory double-standard again. you think it's easy working for Harper?

Jason Cherniak said...

At least Emerson didn't run just to keep up party spirits, then quit.

Barcs said...

I hope Mr. Johnston has the liberal party pay his candidate deposit.. cus he isn't gonna get it back running in Saskatchewan.

A handful of tories not running again vs a couple dozen liberals??? Pine away jeff.. pine away for the good times.