The news reports today that David Emerson is considering whether he should run in the upcoming election. He’s stating the strain on his family life. But I can hazard a guess why he’s taking a big think over this. David Emerson ran as a Liberal in the last federal election, in a Vancouver riding.
Once he was elected, within days, he crossed the floor to become a Conservative. Not halfway through a term when he was disagreeing with his party’s practices but days after winning, before parliament had even sat. The people who elected him protested vociferously and said a by-election should have been called. Harper studiously ignored this blatant disregard of scruples and not only happily embraced Emerson into his minority government but made him a minister. You can bet the price for crossing the floor was a cushy ministerial position.
So, David Emerson, why are you really considering whether to run or not? Because the people in your riding haven’t forgotten your betrayal and you can bet your life that you won’t get any votes from them again. Sure, maybe, just maybe the Conservatives in that riding would vote for you but it was already shown that there were more Liberals than Conservatives. Let’s call a spade a spade. There’s no way in hell that you’ll win. Better to slink away now with your minister’s pension and chalk one up to being a sneaky bastard.
Sure, people have crossed the floor before in politics, but never before the sessions even began. Often those people are looked at askance by their political cronies as those you might not be able to trust. After all, once a turncoat, possibly always a turncoat. Yet, it hasn’t hurt some careers. Herb Dhaliwal and John Turner are two that come to mind.
Still, that Harper encouraged and allowed such a floor crossing brings into question the integrity of our political system. We could have an election where everyone ran in a riding for the party most likely to win there. Some ridings often vote the same way time and again. Then once the election is over, all those elected politicians could do a wholesale line dance and cross back and forth. Then after a few days everyone could re-tally and see who really won the election.
But of course, the people wouldn’t stand for that. Or would we? We’ve protested before loudly and in number. And overall our governments (the local Liberals when we protested all the cuts that Gordon Campbell made, and with Emerson) have ignored us, blatantly doing whatever they want, even though the voice of the people, those they are supposed to represent, have shown their displeasure.
And this is another reason why Canadians aren’t enthused to vote in the elections. Conservative or Liberal, there will be more sneaky business, underhanded dealings and plain disregard. It’s a good thing to remember when Stephen Harper is touting the shiny, better, more wholesome side of his government.