THUNDER BAY – The unofficial tradition that Members of Parliament in Thunder Bay stand up for the people they represent has, once again, been met with punishment. Several years ago, when then Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi stated he would vote for a Conservative budget the long-time MP was booted out of the Liberal Party by then leader Stephen Dion. Comuzzi felt that to vote down the budget which contained measure he had been working for to get done for years wasn’t in the best interests of Thunder Bay.
Now, the New Democratic Party has determined that the voices of the people in Thunder Bay should be silenced once more. The sad tradition continues.
The New Democrats have sanctioned both Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay Superior North) and John Rafferty (Thunder Bay Rainy River). Rafferty and Hyer voted, on Second Reading for the Conservative motion that would see the firearm registry dismantled.
The New Democrats in their infinite wisdom have decided to punish both Members of Parliament. Hyer and Rafferty’s voices, but by extension the voices of the people of Thunder Bay Superior North and Thunder Bay Rainy River in the House of Commons have been in effect gagged. Perhaps they failed to realize that the last time that happened, in the election that followed, the Liberals were defeated, and our two NDP MPs were elected.
Make no mistake about it, since before being elected both Hyer and Rafferty have promised voters that they would vote to get rid of the long gun registry. If the NDP leadership and caucus were to look back, they have their own history of opposition to the registry. However if the NDP leadership was not supportive of Hyer and Rafferty’s stand, one might have thought they would have respected the voices of the people in both ridings who have repeatedly sent the message on this wedge issue via our two MPs.
Instead, in a high-handed and ham fisted move, the NDP has booted our two MPs out on their butts. The NDP have not even had the courage to march their interim leader out to explain why.
In fact the NDP interim leader didn’t even have the courage to tell our two MPs, instead delegating the job to the Party Whip. Shades of Liberal leader Stephane Dion who didn’t dare talk to Joe Comuzzi as he stomped on democracy.
The current NDP leadership have, in a moment, given up any claims to any moral high ground on parliamentary reform.
The next time you hear any NDP complaints about the Conservative government acting in a high-handed manner, those claims should be measured by what has happened in Thunder Bay. The NDP caucus in supporting the gagging and punishment of Hyer and Rafferty have in mere moments destroyed their party’s positions on democratic reform as being a voice for change.
My Grandmother used to have a saying, “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying”.
Today after reflection, those words now apply to the NDP. In a stroke, Canada’s new official opposition party has proven that they are exactly the same as the Liberals and Conservatives.
The real problem for the New Democrats, is that under the leadership of Jack Layton, and all of the leaders before him, the party could always claim the moral high ground. Now having proven that the NDP leadership is no different, the political battlefield will shift.
It is possible that should the Liberals see the opportunity, and should Liberal leadership candidates decide to do battle, this could be that key moment in politics where a paradigm shift is possible.
It is also possible that for the NDP that the end game results of their ham fisted action may also include an end to the credibility that Bruce Hyer has tried to bring to the party on the issue of small business. Hyer has been, over the past several years seeking to get the message that there is a potential for the New Democrats in reaching out to small business. It is a position that appears to have opportunity, but one that the NDP has yet to fully grasp.
Like many issues in the past, news about Thunder Bay doesn’t seem to top the national agenda. However, this issue, one of democratic freedom, and of the rights and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament is massive.
In an era when people are occupying, where the Arab Spring brought democratic reforms in the Middle East, Canada’s New Democrats were leading a charge toward change. Today however, based on their actions, the New Democrats have shown that given the chance for change, that the party is no different than any other party in Ottawa.
One might wonder if, as the light is ever brighter on the NDP over the coming years, as the Official Opposition, if this moment might not be recorded by history as the NDP’s beginning of the end. My prediction is that if the Liberals seize the moment, this action has the potential to be the impetus that re-vitalized the party.
Perhaps the real winner here, by default will be the federal Conservatives.
For the current leadership and caucus of the New Democratic Party, perhaps today will make the start of a dawning that Jack Layton was right when he said to believe in change. Instead they decided to believe in the status quo. As Grandmother used to say, “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying”.
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