THUNDER BAY – ELECTION 2015 – Our three largest parties are trapped in old style, 20th century politics, with little compromise or cooperation. The Greens are the party of the future. We are putting principle ahead of political partisanship. We have the best platform and we have the best leader.
Former NDP leader Jack Layton was very persuasive, but he never whipped our voting. He was unusual in his ability to balance the desires of the party, and the needs of his MPs. When he became leader, Mr. Mulcair made it very clear that whipped votes would now be mandatory for NDP MPs. The Party Whip told me that if I did not vote the way the party wanted 100% of the time, I would be “punished” and they would not sign my nomination papers. Since I left three years ago, all NDP MPs have bowed to Mulcair’s will! The candidates for both the NDP and Liberals have made it clear that they will be “team players” and will put the wishes of the party first. But this is not hockey!
Here is the statement that I prepared to present in the House in April of 2012.
“Mr. Speaker: When the voters of Thunder Bay-Superior North chose me to be their voice in the House of Commons, I committed to them to be honest, open, and accessible… and to keep my campaign promises!
Despite extensive life experience, none of that quite prepared me for the problems in Parliament. Our three main parties require lockstep discipline, with little room for meaningful public debate, or for putting constituents ahead of party politics!
The main parties are mired in a win-lose battlefield mentality. Instead of cooperation and compromise, our voters observe mindless solidarity.
Therefore Mr. Speaker, to best represent my constituents, as of today I will be sitting as an Independent.”
I sat as an Independent for almost 2 years, and was far more effective at representing my riding than as a member of the NDP caucus. I received many more questions and statements in the House, and could better work cooperatively with MPs from all parties.
So, why did I join the Green Party in 2013? Unlike most MPs, I was then able to put my constituents first, in the only truly democratic party. Plus, I have access to the resources of a well-organized and established party with high-quality researchers and a network of experts in many fields.
One MP friend told me that he has just accepted the fact that he is merely a “Customer Sales Rep for the NDP” in his riding!
It has been this way, and getting worse and worse, since 1970, when Pierre Trudeau amended the Elections Act to increase the leader’s control over his caucus members.
Parties are not even mentioned in the Constitution! From 1867 until 1970, MPs worked for their ridings, and the leaders had to use skill and persuasion to keep their caucus supportive. Trudeau added party names were to the ballots for the first time since Confederation. Worse, in the fine print Trudeau’s amendments required the national party leaders to sign the nomination papers of party candidates… or they are not allowed to run, even if selected by their riding associations. Soon, Pierre Trudeau was calling his own backbenchers “mere trained seals”!
Let me summarize in simple, straightforward terms why I joined the Green Party in 2013:
- I will always put the interests of my constituents ahead of any party! The Green Party is the only party that allows their MPs to do that. I will never represent any party that “whips” (mandates) voting by their MPs.
- It is the only party, and Elizabeth is the only leader, who seeks cooperation and compromise with other parties, and respect for all MPs.
- The Greens have the best principles and platform. They are very comprehensive and balanced with not only environmental priorities, but sophisticated social and economic strategies as well. Thunder Bay’s own Kevin Page, Parliamentary Budget Officer for the last 5 years, endorsed it.
- The Greens have the best Leader! Elizabeth May is setting a new and high standard in the House of Commons. Smart. Caring. Loving. The hardest working MP. There are two kinds of politicians: those who want to serve… and those who want to be served. Elizabeth May is the only Leader who is putting democracy, our Planet, and our country ahead of old style Party Politics.
I want to serve in a government that:
- encourages the creative and industrious and generous,
- protects the vulnerable, and
- controls those who are dangerous or pathologically greedy.
It appears probable that soon we will have a Liberal minority government in which new Green MPs will have significant influence, perhaps even the balance of power. I hope to be re-elected in order to help to build a more co-operative Parliament, a fairer Canada, and to be an even stronger voice for all the constituents of Thunder Bay-Superior North.