THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – There are several implications to the move by Thunder Bay Superior North MP Bruce Hyer is stepping out of the NDP Caucus and deciding to sit as an independent. First it speaks to Hyer’s determination to stand by his constituents when it comes to the issues they tell him are important. Second it declares that increasingly the hyper-partisanship of Parliament is way past being out of control. Third it means that despite some of the commentary on continuing to build on the ‘House that Jack Built’ that the Mulcair led NDP is not as open to MPs.
The contrast to the late Jack Layton is massive. Hyer has reported that Layton tried hard to bring him onside on the gun registry, over long hours of conversation. In the end, Layton had the courage to understand that an MP has to represent their constituents first. It is something that the new and seemingly flatter orange of the Mulcair NDP seem to ignore.
When it comes to Parliament, far too often Members of Parliament who see themselves as representing their constituents but are seen by the party brass in Ottawa as representing the party to the people. As time has gone along, seeing how the partisanship has increased to almost poisonous levels in Ottawa, and it seemingly spilling out into ridings and elections, it is time for change.
Hyer’s move makes that statement. It is hard to say what will happen from his new position as an independent MP. John Rafferty said today “Having worked and served next to Bruce, through good times and tough times, I want to say first that I respect him as a colleague and a parliamentarian. However, I do believe that he has made a tremendous mistake today with his announcement”.
Rafferty who was sanctioned by the NDP interim leader for his vote didn’t explain how the NDP leader’s declaration that the re-imposition of a federal gun registry will be party policy and future votes will be whipped votes will bode with his practice of representing his constituents.
From Bruce Hyer’s view, you can, if you were reading the tea leaves, see this decision coming. Hyer has been in the trenches on a couple of efforts in the House of Commons on private members motions trying to get through some of the partisanship nature of the house.
Hyer’s private member’s motion made it through the House of Commons only to be killed by the unelected Senate. Hyer’s website (http://www.brucehyer.ca/) states, “In the last parliament alone (2008-2011), 441 Private Members Bills were introduced but only 4 were adopted. Likewise, 681 Private Members Motions were introduced and only 24 of which were adopted”.
So what is likely to happen?
Hyer has stated he will keep his membership in the NDP. However it is likely that the New Democrats will move quickly to revoke his membership.
What is next?
Hyer has fought, for decades on environmental causes. For several elections, Hyer campaigned and lost for the NDP, before winning. Likely he will have both the Liberals and the Green Party reach out to him. He might even have the Conservatives reach out to him.
In the end, it would be my prediction that Bruce Hyer might end up joining the Green Party. His environmental history, and his track record in small business might find a home in that party which wouldn’t be in the Liberals or Conservatives.
Politically, in Thunder Bay Superior North, Hyer’s move might open the door for the federal Conservatives should they find a solid candidate and start building the solid foundation needed to compete and win.
In the broader sense, Hyer’s move from the NDP should send a strong message echoing across the country that it is time to get parliament working and have MPs offered greater freedom to represent their constituents.