In Canadian politics, there is the way it’s supposed to work and the way it actually works. In our system, we are supposed to vote for our local representatives, who will go to Parliament Hill and vote for their constituents’ best interests. What actually happens is that most Canadians vote for the party or the leader of a party and most MPs hold tightly to the party line in the hopes of getting a better cabinet position should their party eventually form government.
These days, when an MP says something considered ‘off message,’ there are rumblings that even that is controlled by the Prime Minister’s Office — such as Stephen Woodworth’s attempt to re-define when an embryo becomes a human being.
On Tuesday, David Wilks, a backbench MP from the KootenayŚColumbia riding in BC told a meeting of his constituents that he would vote against the Harper government’s Budget Implementation Bill (C-38) but only if 12 of his fellow Conservatives would also vote against.
He told the gathered group, estimated to be around 30 people, “I will stand up and say the Harper government should get rid of Bill C-38.” (This would be the Harper government of which he is a part), but he would only stand up against the legislation if 12 of his fellow backbenchers also voted against the bill, saying that without 12 more, they had no chance of killing the bill.
The story hit the local and then national news on Wednesday and by Wednesday afternoon, his office had released a statement declaring his total support of Bill C-38.
The statement was actually more in tune with what he had previously said in the House of Commons.
Really, I guess we should congratulate him for managing to be off message for almost 24 hours.
But what of the constituents of KootenayŚColumbia? During the last federal election, more than 42,000 of them voted (of more than 67,000 eligible voters), and 55 percent voted for the Conservatives, but now what percentage actually feels as though they’re being represented?
Either your MP is lying to you in face to face meetings, or he’s terrified of his boss and what might happen if he steps out of line — even though there’s no being demoted from backbench government MP.
The Harper government’s incredible control of their MPs and their message is alienating voters and keeping down the voter turnout –which some have posited might be exactly what Harper wants.
Photo Credit: Λουκάς Παπαδήμος Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας