By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
First choice on my ballot will be Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra. A party leadership race is a critical moment that determines the direction that a party takes for many years. A vote for Joyce calls on the Liberal Party to put sustainability — an honest accounting of the fiscal, environmental, and social assets and liabilities we pass on to our children — at the forefront of our party’s identity. A vote for Joyce also expresses support for cooperation between the progressive political parties in the 2015 election as a strategy to avert another Conservative victory. As 2015 rolls around, I think that exploring possibilities for cooperation will be very important for the good of the country, and completely compatible with first building up the Liberal Party’s own organization and identity.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 15, 2013 at 2:31 PM - 0 Comments
Tom Clark: But let’s be realistic though, if a backbencher votes against his own government, the future is not terribly bright for that backbencher. I mean the chances of you getting into cabinet or even being a parliamentary secretary become rather limited if you are seen as somebody who’s holding your own executive account and also from time to time, I suppose voting against them.
Brent Rathgeber: Sure but that’s premised on the suggestion that it’s only the executive that’s important in this city or in this country and I dispute that premise. I think legislature is important. We’re the ones that pass the laws. We’re the ones that pass the appropriation for the government to make and that’s Parliament as a collective. So I think the role as being a legislature is being a member of Parliament is important in holding the government to account and to assure that the executive pays attention to the tax dollars that they spend.
At the same time, Mr. Rathgeber acknowledged one of the natural tensions of the party system.
Well it’s difficult to serve more than one master and certainly my primary loyalty is to my constituents; they’re the ones that elected me. But I also have a loyalty to the prime minister and to the Conservative Party of Canada because after all, I was elected under their banner and I have no delusions that I would have been elected had it been under some other banner, certainly not Alberta.
So you have dual loyalties. So you look at it at a case by case basis.
That tension will probably always exist, no matter what is done to reform the House. And the goal of reform shouldn’t be to create 308 independent MPs. Rather, it should be to better balance the power between party and MP. The aim should be to make the individual MP more important, useful and interesting—more than merely a name on a ballot, more than a placeholder and more than a messenger for his or her political party.
Part of changing that is going to involve structural reform (amending the Elections Act, changing the way the House does its business), but another part of that could and should be nothing more than individual MPs acknowledging their individual responsibilities and asserting themselves. Consider Mr. Rathgeber. Why is he receiving attention and praise like this? Because he has a blog, on which he periodically conveys opinions that do not seem to have been vetted by the Prime Minister’s staff and variously expresses himself using phrases that do not seem to have been scripted for him.
This is not quite revolutionary. Or at least it should not seem the least bit revolutionary. But here we are. On the way to fixing everything, perhaps more MPs could start blogs. (Note: Ted Hsu has one too.)
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons is filling up—the Prime Minister seems to have brought a large stack of paperwork to keep him busy—and voting on C-45 will soon commence. We’ll be here until the end to observer all the sights, sounds, thrills and chills of democracy in motion (specifically the motion of standing and sitting down repeatedly).
3:43pm. The party whips have been duly applauded and the Speaker is now calling the first vote. Thomas Mulcair receives a round of applause as he leads the votes in favour.
3:45pm. If you’d like to follow along with the commentary from the floor, our list of MPs on Twitter is here.
3:47pm. Mr. Harper receives a round of applause as he leads the nays.
3:51pm. The first vote goes to the nays, 156-134.
3:56pm. Michelle Rempel, Pierre Poilievre, Randy Kamp, Mark Adler, Bob Rae, Vic Toews and Ruth Ellen Brosseau are using the time to sign Christmas cards. Greg Rickford is reading Sports Illustrated. Denis Lebel is going through some paperwork. Megan Leslie and Nathan Cullen are fiddling with their iPads.
3:58pm. The second notes goes to the nays, 147-134. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Postmedia says Conservative MPs Nina Grewal, Colin Mayes and Mark Strahl will vote in favour of Motion 312, while Dan Albas will vote against.
Cathy McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo since 2008, said this week she’ll stick to her election campaign vow to oppose reopening the abortion debate. That position was echoed Tuesday by rookie MP Dan Albas (Okanagan-Coquihalla), who said he shared Harper’s position when abortion was raised at all-candidates debates in the 2011 campaign.
“I have my own personal convictions but I think when an elected official makes a commitment as part of an overall series of commitments during an election I think the public expects people to keep their word, and that’s what I intend to do,” Albas said in explaining why he’ll vote against Woodworth’s motion.
Liberal MP Ted Hsu says he’ll vote against. Conservative MP Patricia Davidson is “probably” going to vote yes. If so, Ms. Davidson would join, at the very least, Conservative MPs Dean Del Mastro, Leon Benoit, Maurice Vellacott, Brent Rathgeber, Harold Albrecht, Jason Kenney, David Anderson, Stella Ambler, Mark Warawa and LaVar Payne in supporting Stephen Woodworth’s motion. Liberal MP John McKay is the only known opposition vote at this point. (For reference, see here, here, here, here and here.)
Here, again, is Mr. Woodworth’s announcement upon introducing his motion. Here is my interview with Brad Trost. Here is Gordon O’Connor’s speech outlining his opposition to the motion. Here is the first hour of debate on the motion and here is the second hour.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM - 0 Comments
Scientists will march through Ottawa tomorrow and then gather on Parliament to conduct a funeral service for the general concept of evidence.
The scientific community is sad to report the death of evidence, which passed away June 18th, 2012, after an over six year battle with Harper government policies. Objective and honest, evidence was heavily involved in all aspects of Canadian prosperity and will be sorely missed by all Canadians, whether they currently realize it or not.
More from the Citizen here. The scientists and researchers will be joined by NDP MPs Anne Minh Thu Quach and Hélène LeBlanc and Liberal MP Ted Hsu.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 3:08 PM - 6 Comments
Dominic LeBlanc takes Mr. Rae’s old spot at foreign affairs and Irwin Cotler takes Mr. LeBlanc’s old spot at justice. Rookies Sean Casey and Ted Hsu get veterans affairs and science respectively.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:35 AM - 33 Comments
The final humiliation: a cash bar…
Last week the Liberals gathered the night before
The final humiliation: a cash bar
Last week the Liberals gathered the night before what would be their final caucus meeting with both defeated and elected MPs. One Liberal staffer called the party a “wake”; a Hill security guard predicted it would end early because it was a cash bar. Surviving Toronto Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan arrived with a bandaged hand that will need surgery. “I fell on Wednesday and the government fell on the Friday,” she says. Five weeks campaigning didn’t help: “Even when you break your hand,” said Duncan, “people still want to shake it.” Some days ended with Duncan in excruciating pain. Defeated MP Marlene Jennings arrived with a white cane, announcing that she is now officially vision-impaired. The one person who spoke at the party was surviving MP Ralph Goodale, but no one seemed to be listening; former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff left before Goodale spoke. The Liberals’ only two rookie MPs were there: Sean Casey from Charlottetown and Ted Hsu from Kingston, Ont., which was previously represented by Speaker Peter Milliken. Hsu’s win was a surprise for the Conservatives, who for years said that once Milliken retired they would easily win the riding.