Nycole Turmel Shuts Down Democracy in Thunder Bay


Jack Layton speaking in Thunder Bay
Jack Layton speaking in Thunder Bay earlier this year.
THUNDER BAY – Nycole Turmel is currently the interim leader of the federal New Democratic Party. As interim leader, Turmel recently sanctioned Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay Superior North) and John Rafferty (Thunder Bay Rainy River) for what appears, at least to Ms. Turmel to be the unforgivable political crime of keeping a promise made to the people who they represent in the House of Commons.

The interim leader of the NDP has kicked both Rafferty and Hyer off of their critic roles, tossed the two MPs off of Commons Committees, and taken away their right to deliver Member’s Statements in the House of Commons. The NDP has taken away our two MPs right to travel on anything but the basics. A few weeks back, to better understand the role and work of the Canadian military, our two MPs traveled to spend a week with the Canadian Forces. Such an effort now would be deemed unacceptable by the interim NDP leader.

All that for the unforgivable political crime of listening to the people who they represent, and continuing to do so. Turmel has in effect tried to silence the voices of Thunder Bay Superior North and Thunder Bay Rainy River in the federal Parliament.

By way of rationel, Turmel says, “With this legislation Conservatives have shut out provinces and territories….”. Yet she has in effect shut out our two Members of Parliament and tried to silence their, and by extension the voices of all the people in Northwestern Ontario in the two federal ridings.

It looks like for Turmel it is a case of the pot arguing with the kettle over which one is blacker.

Turmel claims, “First, please know that the New Democrat position on the gun registry is clear”.

Clear? Really Nycole, perhaps you would like to quote the exact section of the NDP platform that states this policy?

Here is the NDP platform on justice issues from the 2011 Election campaign:

Hiring more police to protect your community

• We will keep our communities safe from crime by investing in a balanced, effective approach based on prevention, policing, and prosecution;

• We will ensure that communities have the resources they need to invest in crime prevention programs, particularly those targeting youth, by increasing federal support to crime prevention initiatives from $65 million to $100 million per year;

• We will work with the provinces, territories, and First Nations communities to provide stable, multi-year funding to eventually put at least 2,500 new police officers on the streets, and keep them there permanently;

• We will give parents, teachers and police more tools to protect our children by making gang recruiting illegal, and establishing a comprehensive Correctional Anti-Gang Strategy to ensure that prisons do not serve as “crime schools” to train gang-involved offenders;

• We will create new, stand-alone offences for home invasions and carjackings;

• We will enact, the so-called “Lucky Moose” bill – a law that would allow citizens to detain criminals within “a reasonable amount of time” after a crime is committed;

• We will ensure that appropriate care, treatment, and interventions are available for mentally ill offenders in prison, as recommended by the Correctional Investigator of Canada.

Notice how in the entire NDP Election Platform there isn’t a mention of the long-gun registry. Jack Layton as NDP leader had the courage to allow free votes on the issue.

Now that is not to suggest Layton didn’t try to bring all his MPs onboard to his thinking. He did. Likely both Hyer and Rafferty could tell about that.

Turmel is shutting out the voices of our MPs, and while pretending her party is offering something new, is demonstrating why she is simply the interim leader. She certainly does not have the political courage that Jack Layton did on the same issue.

While some have attacked Turmel claiming she is representing only the views of Quebec, informed sources tell that the support that both Thunder Bay MPs are receiving from the crop of new Quebec NDP MPs is quite large.

It is likely that Turmel’s autocratic and ham-fisted move is going to resonate across Thunder Bay. Especially during the Remembrance Week when people remember the efforts our Canadian troops achieved to defend basic freedoms and rights we all have today. Well, all except our two MPs.

Now, if both Thunder Bay MPs continue into third reading to support keeping their word to their constituents, it is likely that both Hyer and Rafferty could be kicked out of the NDP caucus.

Politics in the Lakehead are rarely boring, but this move by the NDP interim leader suggests that her only skill around guns might be shooting herself and her party in the foot.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

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