THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Thunder Bay Superior North has a reputation at the federal level of being a different kind of riding. Whipping the elected representatives from the riding to vote along party lines led to former Liberal than Conservative MP Joe Comuzzi to be booted out of the Liberal caucus. Only a week ago, NDP MP Bruce Hyer declared that parliament is disfunctional and opted to sit as an independent MP.
Over the past twenty-four hours, reports in the Winnipeg Free Press and other newspapers made it sound as if Hyer has had a complete change of heart. However it is hard to tell if that is the case or not.
In a letter handed out to members of the NDP at the Constituency Annual General Meeting this past weekend, Hyer stated, “Many people have asked me if I am willing to reconsider my decision. I am willing to do that: to apologize, to accept MOST party discipline and drudgery, and I am willing to ask the Riding Association and Mr. Mulcair to let me resume my NDP seat.”
Okay, it sounds, at first like a flop and a flip. But is it?
Hyer added, “First, there are things that I think are important. Especially, that Mr. Mulcair and the party realize that I and all NDP MPs need some flexibility to determine when to vote consistent with our professional discretion, or the clear wishes of our constituents. That believes in diversity in many areas, including opinion. If the riding wanted a candidate and then an MP who would always think, say, and vote as the party dictates … then you did work for and elect the wrong man for your party”.
Now it is hard to figure this all out.
If Hyer is apologising to the NDP, what exactly would he be apologising for?
Would it be an apology for representing his constituents over the will of the party brass? Embarassing the newly elected NDP leader? Or just what?
Hyer is saying he will go back if he and all other NDP MPs get the right to vote the will of their constituents. That seems very unlikely since the NDP leader Mulcair has seemingly whipped and muzzled his fellow Quebec caucus members preventing them from speaking out over the ongoing protest and debate over education and tuition fees in Quebec.
So what exactly have we got here? If Bruce Hyer is set to work to make a huge difference in making Parliament more open, then it is a full time job, and one that likely most mps would support him in the effort however quietly. Right now in the House of Commons which should be the heart of our democracy, there has been a cancer eating away at the ability of all elected representatives to represent their constituents.
The real elephant in the room would come, after the next federal election, should the New Democrats win. The NDP leader has promised to restore the gun registry. Putting aside the massive cash expenditure that would entail, John Rafferty should he be re-elected to that government would have to make a tough choice. Rafferty has said that Bruce Hyer is making a massive mistake.
Maybe the real issue on this is still to come? One could imagine the box Rafferty would have put himself into should that happen.
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