Thursday, February 05, 2009

Budget Voting

I'm a little surprised by the uproar in certain quarters over the dissent by the Liberal Newfoundland and Labrador caucus on the budget. I think that when the outcome of a vote is not in doubt, there is no reason an MP shouldn't be able to vote their conscience or their constituents will as the case may be. You can't advocate for more power for backbench MP's and then cry foul when MP's exercise their power. At the end of the day these people are accountable to their electorate first and their party second. It isn't the first time that regional dissent has occurred within a party's caucus, it won't be the last. People called Stephen Harper a control-freak when he kicked Bill Casey out of caucus for a similar decision. I think the reaction to this has as much to do with Danny Williams as anything else. I am a strong federalist. I don't like the way Williams has used his popularity to blackmail the federal government into giving up their constitutionally mandated powers. However, I don't think it matters why this budget was toxic to the MP's from Newfoundland and Labrador. What matters is that it was, and for that reason they voted against their party. They should be applauded for their courage and principle not condemned as threats to national unity. There are plenty of problems associated with the Williams government in St. John's, but to heap blame upon the Newfoundland caucus for the political situation that they find themselves in is inappropriate. It is frankly refreshing to see any part of the country paying enough attention to their national politics so that a single vote in parliament becomes an electability issue back home. There are plenty of cases in our history where parliamentarians have voted against their constituents best interest and not been punished for failing to do their job as representatives of said constituents. The provinces may be getting too powerful but this vote is not the forum for that debate.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Take the outcries of all these political pundits with a grain of salt. It's easy for them to criticize, but they're not the ones who would have had to live with the consequences of the Liberals losing their foothold in Nfld and Labradour.

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