OPINION Party-flipping must stop
- Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 22 Mar 2006, p. 6
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While ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro cleared Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday of breaking any rules when Harper persuaded David Emerson to switch parties shortly after the Jan. 23 federal election, the decision is unlikely to appease voters in Emerson's Vancouver-Kingsway riding. Nor should it. Voters there have a right to feel betrayed by Emerson who they elected in good faith as a Liberal. The situation is similar to that of Belinda Stronach in Newmarket where the Tory-turnedLiberal pulled a party switcheroo between the last two elections. Emerson's justification for the move-- that he thought he could best serve his constituents from the Tories' cabinet table rather than the Liberals' Opposition benches-- is weak at best and dishonourable at worst. During the last election he campaigned against Tory policies, and against Harper, yet at the first opportunity joined the Tory ranks. As an MP he was elected by the majority of his voting constituents to be their voice in Ottawa. Clearly they supported his anti-Tory message during the campaign by giving him a healthy mandate. To do a party about-face is a slap in the face to all who voted for him. While Shapiro says no rules were broken, he admits many people were angered by Emerson's move and felt their votes were devalued. "In the final analysis the most appropriate place to settle issues of this kind is not in the office of the ethics commissioner but in Parliament itself," wrote Shapiro in his report. It's a debate that our MPs should begin in earnest as soon as possible to ensure future voters are not hoodwinked again.
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- 22 Mar 2006
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- Shapiro, Bernard ; Harper, Stephen ; Stronach, Belinda ; Emerson, David
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