Friday, June 7, 2013

About Edmonton MP Brent Rathgeber’s resignation from the Conservative caucus

The recent resignation of Edmonton MP Brent Rathgeber from the Conservative caucus highlights once again the opening of small fissures in the once rock-solid public face of the federal Tory party. From this we are reminded that a prime minister who expects intelligent, educated men and women to offer unquestioning adherence to strict party policy year in and year out is probably setting himself up for a major disappointment—and unnecessarily so.

Surely Conservatives deserve a party that is bigger than one man—i.e., Stephen Harper—and one narrow view of the political landscape and, most certainly, one that is much, much bigger than a PMO whose ineptness has become far too obvious in the years since the Tories gained power in 2006.

Senate misconduct, mindless secrecy, un-ending annual budget deficits, shoddy record keeping in government departments leading to billions of dollars being unaccounted for, sophomoric performances in the House of Commons during Question Period and now “a secretive fund operated out of the PMO to pay for political party costs.”

And all this against a backdrop of a group of hyperpartisan “kids in short pants” running the PMO and telling elected MPs twice their age (and considerably wiser) how to do their jobs. And without the commitment to transparency and accountability we’d all been told to expect. After all, wasn’t that one of the big differentiators between us and the Grits?

Makes one wonder if the federal Tories, who practice political expediency at every turn, or so it seems at times, are anything like the party I thought I was voting for—and I’ve been voting for conservative parties since the 1960s.

As to the churlish suggestion by a PMO representative that Mr. Rathgeber should resign and run in a by-election: such petulant responses have become all too typical a reaction on the part of the current Tory government. Of course, no such suggestion seems to have been made to David Emerson, who after quitting the Liberals following the 2006 election, joined the new Conservative government as a cabinet minister.

The manner in which the government neutered Mr. Rathgeber’s Bill C-461 (a.k.a. the CBC and public service disclosure and transparency act) might suggest the caucus left him, and his resignation only formalized the de facto relationship.

In his I Stand Alone blog entry, Mr Rathgeber lamented, in part, “I fear that we have morphed into what we once mocked.” I’m sorry to say his fear seems well grounded.


  1. Thank you for such an excellent post. You expressed the same frustration I and many others are feeling. I for one can no longer find as an acceptable excuse that the opposition parties would be even worse. While I do not doubt they would be equally bad or even worse, unless there is a major turn-around with the CPC I shall not be able to hold my nose and vote for them the next time.

  2. Mr Rathgeber was a rouge when an MLA in Alberta provincial government too.
    Always interesting when he is in a caucus!

    There are reasons the PMB was amended, and Rathgeber knew them back in February. Neither he nor committee has gone public with the reasons.
    When he was unable to persuade the committee otherwise, he quit with much fanfare.
    If every MP who tabled a PMB that was voted down or amended quit, the Independents would have a majority.
    Sad that Rathgeber chose not to continue his fight from inside government, now he has very limited opportunity if any at all, to effect change.

    1. True enough Wilson. But Mr. Rathgeber will have his conscience and integrity. Imagine you are spending days away from your family so that you can be a cheerleader in Ottawa. I only think how someone like Kellie Leitch must feel, likely the smartest person in the room, as she speaks perfectly memorized talking points like a robot. This is the root of the problem. I left the fold a while ago and constantly sniff around because I know what the best option is. There could be conservative majorities forever if those elected could just be genuine. If you can't see that then there is no hope. We can't blindly follow, this country is too important.

    2. Wilson, do you know what those reasons were? That's information that could go a long way to calm at least the Conservatives who are upset by this whole situation. Without it, we really don't know the story at all.

  3. Absolutely agree. I was a huge Harper defender, but these last few weeks have me switching sides.
    Something needs to be done fast.