Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A short walk, but an unforgivable betrayal

If you read this blog regularly it's no secret that Frustrated Joe's political philosophies tend to differ a great from those of the left, like say the NDP. However, once in while an issue arises that I find myself agreeing (at least partially) with someone I would normally be opposed to. Wow, that was a mouthful.

The issue at hand today are the shackles that are placed upon our Members of Parliament when they are expected to vote with their party on issues before Parliament. The particular case in question is that of Bruce Hyer, one of the NDP's northern Ontario MP's. Hyer was one of two NDP MP's that voted in November 2011 with the Conservative government on Bill C-19 to put an end to the long gun registry. Unfortunately for Hyer, that decision conflicted with his parties stance on the issue. The result, both MP's were disciplined by their party.

Now, maybe it is old school but as a voter I  personally feel that the first duty of elected officials is to those that elected them. Myself, I have always taken into account the candidates personal opinions and political philosophy (how close they are to mine) and given both almost the same weight in my voting decision as I give to their political parties views. After all this individual serves as your representative in government. You need to know "they have your back".

So lets get back to Bruce, who serves as the MP for the Thunder bay, Ont region. Bruce voted to scrap the long gun registry on the basis that he felt strongly that is what his constituents wanted, remember Bruce's riding is slap dab in the middle of Canada's True North and as such hunting is practically a given for most residents. Unfortunately that did not align with his parties overall goals and as such he had his hand slapped. Now I suspect that Bruce must be a relatively intelligent guy (or at least as intelligent as one could expect any supporter of the NDP to be) and he realized that not voting with your party wasn't exactly the best way to get ahead within it. So this week Bruce announced he is dropping his caucus affiliation with the New Democratic Party to sit as an Independent in Parliament. Here is Bruce's explanation in his own words

"I was honoured when the voters of Thunder Bay-Superior North chose me to be their voice in the House of Commons. I committed to them to be honest, open, and accessible, and to keep my campaign promises.” said Hyer in the House of Commons. “I have much respect for most Members in this House. But our three main parties require lockstep discipline, with little room for meaningful public debate... or for putting constituents ahead of party politics.

Instead of cooperation and compromise, voters often see mindless solidarity, where political parties are always right and voters are always wrong. One example is the long gun registry, where there has been no real compromise at all. Mr. Mulcair has made it clear he will bring back the long gun registry, and will use the whip. I am also concerned that Mr. Mulcair does not seem willing to co-operate with other parties on important issues. And on climate change, parties are hopelessly locked to Cap and Trade or outright inaction, making compromise to achieve even piecemeal progress impossible.”

(Above quotation taken from Bruce Hyers website)

I can't say I disagree with a word of the above as I have long felt that more often than not a political party, or more to the point it's leader will set a course that simply overlooks the electorates wishes and demands complete obedience and solidarity from the parties MP's. This is not so much a democracy as a dictatorship on the part of a party leader.

However my support of Bruce's position ends there! Unfortunately Bruce committed a cardinal sin for an elected official, he crossed the floor. I have harped about this breach of trust in the past and I feel very strongly that it is simply wrong. Period! Sure every Federal MP or Provincial MLA who makes the walk always comes out with a sincere reason for doing so, usually one that emphasizes how good it is for the actual electorate that supported them in the previous election. As an example here is Bruce's song and dance routine about making "the walk".....

“One of the jobs of any new Leader is to unite their party, and there are different ways to do that. Being excluded from any position was a clear message that my constituents will be muzzled.” (Hyer was left out the NDP shadow cabinet announcement last week)

“As an Independent voice, I will better be able to represent my constituents in Parliament. I will focus on doing what I have worked hard to do for over three years: Help the people being mistreated by federal agencies. Work with all parties or MPs when possible to make Parliament work. And speak up inside and outside the House for issues important for Northwestern Ontario, and Canada.” Hyer stated.

Now Bruce, that is all fine and dandy and I am sure it allows you to get a restful nights sleep, however your electorate did not place their trust and their precious vote behind an "independent" MP, they voted for a member of the NDP party (poor misinformed souls that they are). So on this one you really let them down.

The problem I see here (besides Bruce's betrayal of his electorates support) is that we have a political system that at times forces an elected official into a position of conflict with his own party so that he can honor the trust and faith placed in him by the people who elected him. I have heard it stated before that Canada's Prime Minister holds far more power than most leaders in G20 countries (including America) in the sense that when he wants something accomplished he simply dictates to his caucus members how to vote. No argument, no debate, simply "do as I say". My Hyer is the classic example, by honoring the trust placed in him by his electorate he becomes a pariah to his caucus and sent to sit on the back bench.

The bottom line here is while I praise Mr Hyer for "sticking to his guns" on scrapping the long gun registry, I have to condemn him for making the walk to become an independent MP , something that he should have waited until the next election to do.The really sad part of this is that he is not the first, nor will he be the last MP to breach the voters trust in this manner.

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