After seventeen years as a Reform, Canadian Alliance, independent and Liberal member of parliament, MP Keith Martin says he won’t seek re-election in the British Columbia riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca in the next federal election.
Ordinarily, this would be reason for rejoicing given Martin’s 2008 razor-thin (67 votes) victory over Conservative Troy DeSouza. His retirement leaves room for much optimism for a Tory victory in the next federal election in that riding. Dr. Keith Martin is, however, one of the good guys in Ottawa.
Dr. Martin seemed to me to be a conservative on economic issues, much as I am. He also was one of the few MPs to have spoken out publicly against Canada’s legislation that curbs free speech in favour of political correctness. In 2008, he introduced a private member’s motion (M-153) calling on the government to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. That’s the section that prohibits electronic communication of anything deemed “…likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.”
He later introduced a second private member’s motion (M-156), “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should hold public hearings as part of a review of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its tribunal.”
Unfortunately, MP Martin was also, at times, a hot-head and a bit of a loose cannon as evidenced by the 2002 controversy surrounding his attempt to seize and remove the ceremonial mace from the table of the Clerk of the House.
Back in 2002, he was a member of the Canadian Alliance. And his rash action was in response to the adoption of a Liberal amendment to withdraw his Private Members’ Bill C-344 and to have the subject-matter referred to the Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs—in this case, marijuana. This was a callous maneuver on the part of the Grits to ensure MPs never had a chance to vote freely on the bill.
The bill Dr. Martin felt so passionate about would have decriminalized simple possession (30 g or less) of marijuana, and made a first offence punishable by a fine of $200 and fines for subsequent offences scaling up to $1,000. Dr. Martin, apparently, was outraged by the fact that in that session of parliament not one of the 248 private members’ bills proposed by MPs had been passed. And, such was the state of democracy under the Jean Chrétien Liberals, his bill was sidetracked by a “poison-pill amendment” (his words) and not voted on freely by all MPs. He said at the time, “It was an utter violation of our democratic rights as MPs.”
In an age of politicians who seek a career in Ottawa and deliver not much more that a few quotable words from time to time and half-truths and misinformation much of the rest of the time, Dr. Martin seemed a better sort. A sort who might have contributed much to Canadian life had he been more comfortable in the Conservative party and had participated in the present government. Though I do wonder, given his socially liberal views, if he’d ever have made it to cabinet.
No matter, now we get some fresh new blood in the House and that’s a good thing.