If you read this blog regularly it’s no secret that Frustrated Joe’s political philosophies tend to differ a great from those of the left, like say the NDP. However, once in while an issue arises that I find myself agreeing (at least partially) with someone I would normally be opposed to. Wow, that was a mouthful.
The issue at hand today are the shackles that are placed upon our Members of Parliament when they are expected to vote with their party on issues before Parliament. The particular case in question is that of Bruce Hyer, one of the NDP’s northern Ontario MP’s. Hyer was one of two NDP MP’s that voted in November 2011 with the Conservative government on Bill C-19 to put an end to the long gun registry. Unfortunately for Hyer, that decision conflicted with his parties stance on the issue. The result, both MP’s were disciplined by their party.
Now, maybe it is old school but as a voter I personally feel that the first duty of elected officials is to those that elected them. Myself, I have always taken into account the candidates personal opinions and political philosophy (how close they are to mine) and given both almost the same weight in my voting decision as I give to their political parties views. After all this individual serves as your representative in government. You need to know “they have your back”.
So lets get back to Bruce, who serves as the MP for the Thunder bay, Ont region. Bruce voted to scrap the long gun registry on the basis that he felt strongly that is what his constituents wanted, remember Bruce’s riding is slap dab in the middle of Canada’s True North and as such hunting is practically a given for most residents. Unfortunately that did not align with his parties overall goals and as such he had his hand slapped. Now I suspect that Bruce must be a relatively intelligent guy (or at least as intelligent as one could expect any supporter of the NDP to be) and he realized that not voting with your party wasn’t exactly the best way to get ahead within it. So this week Bruce announced he is dropping his caucus affiliation with the New Democratic Party to sit as an Independent in Parliament. Here is Bruce’s explanation in his own words
I can’t say I disagree with a word of the above as I have long felt that more often than not a political party, or more to the point it’s leader will set a course that simply overlooks the electorates wishes and demands complete obedience and solidarity from the parties MP’s. This is not so much a democracy as a dictatorship on the part of a party leader.
However my support of Bruce’s position ends there! Unfortunately Bruce committed a cardinal sin for an elected official, he crossed the floor. I have harped about this breach of trust in the past and I feel very strongly that it is simply wrong. Period! Sure every Federal MP or Provincial MLA who makes the walk always comes out with a sincere reason for doing so, usually one that emphasizes how good it is for the actual electorate that supported them in the previous election. As an example here is Bruce’s song and dance routine about making “the walk”…..
Now Bruce, that is all fine and dandy and I am sure it allows you to get a restful nights sleep, however your electorate did not place their trust and their precious vote behind an “independent” MP, they voted for a member of the NDP party (poor misinformed souls that they are). So on this one you really let them down.
The problem I see here (besides Bruce’s betrayal of his electorates support) is that we have a political system that at times forces an elected official into a position of conflict with his own party so that he can honor the trust and faith placed in him by the people who elected him. I have heard it stated before that Canada’s Prime Minister holds far more power than most leaders in G20 countries (including America) in the sense that when he wants something accomplished he simply dictates to his caucus members how to vote. No argument, no debate, simply “do as I say”. My Hyer is the classic example, by honoring the trust placed in him by his electorate he becomes a pariah to his caucus and sent to sit on the back bench.
The bottom line here is while I praise Mr Hyer for “sticking to his guns” on scrapping the long gun registry, I have to condemn him for making the walk to become an independent MP , something that he should have waited until the next election to do.The really sad part of this is that he is not the first, nor will he be the last MP to breach the voters trust in this manner.