My colleague Aaron Wherry has posted here that illuminating, unfiltered video of B.C. Conservative MP David Wilks discussing with unusual candour the government’s omnibus budget bill with a group of his constituents.
Some of these concerned voters, quite rightly, voice concern about far too much being packed into that single unwieldy piece of legislation, making it impossible for all the elements—changes to environmental laws, pensions and Employment Insurance, to name three—to be properly reviewed by House committees.
It gets interesting pretty fast. Out of the video shot, a woman asks Wilks if it’s right to try to pass it all “in one fell swoop.” And Wilks answers, if I’m getting him right (and please correct me if I’ve misheard the rather odd word “barrage” at around the 1:36 mark): “I think you’ll find a barrage of Conservatives that do hold your concerns, and I am one of them.”
He goes on to explain, in a quite dejected manner, how party discipline works, how Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet tell backbench MPs how to vote, how there’s no argument, and how little time is offered for discussion even inside the Tory caucus.
Another of the concerned citizens sitting around the table asks: “At what point do you say, ‘I will not vote along party lines and I will represent my constituents?’”
And Wilks replies, startlingly: “If you want me as an independent member, I’ll do that.” It seems he didn’t mean it, though: here’s his statement reaffirming, despite everything he said, his support for the budget.