I haven't commented on the entire David Emerson racket because every other Canadian blogger seems to be doing a pretty good job of vilifying him. Or sheepishly defending him.
However, the NDP is making a big racket about introducing legislation to stop this sort of thing from happening again. By either forcing a MP to sit as an independent first before joining a party or by having to step down and run again in a byelection under his/her new party banner.
See, to me that's stupid.
Now, I appreciate the rage and ire at Emerson. Spin it all you want, it was a fairly...slimy, thing to do. When the general public thinks that many politicians are nothing but self-serving bastards that ooze rather than walk, perhaps pulling a stunt like crossing the floor for a cabinet position a week after your part lost a federal election isn't the way to change their mind.
But I don't want a byelection if you cross the floor for two reasons.
First, it's lazy. Voters do have certain rights and responsibilities. And one of them is to hold elected leaders accountable. And really, if you can't remember that a year or two ago, the guy you elected for the Liberals crossed the floor to go the Conservatives, then you're just lazy. And there comes a point where you really ought to put a little effort into the democratic process.
Secondly, and most importantly, they're a staggering waste of money. The average federal byelection costs taxpayers about $750,000. And far too often, they're held because politicians are being egocentric or sleazy. Yes, some are obviously held because a person dies or their health is in jeopardy. Those are legitimate reasons.
But let's look at the provincial byelection happening Tuesday in Newfoundland. It is happening because Fabian Manning was a political opportunist. He didn't want to sit in the opposition oblivion for 18 more months. So he took a chance on advancing his career by quitting and running federally. Good for him, he's getting a better job. Bad for the taxpayers of Newfoundland, who are on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars for the byelection that has to be called.
Same thing happens all the time federally. A MP gets another opportunity, they see the "glow of the Christmas lights" and decide to resign. Or whatever. Then we have to pay to replace him because they couldn't wait another few months or years before quitting when a general election was coming up.
So why would we want to mandate a byelection for crossing the floor? Yes, it might stop a few from crossing, but some will still do it regardless.
None of the parties are lilly white when it comes to this kind of shenanigans. They've all lured people away from other parties or lost members. Instead of bringing in legislation, we ask voters to step up and act appropriately the next time they get a crack at them in an election.
And if they decide to vote them back in, like they did with Belinda Stronach, well, you can shake your head at it in amazement, but you can't say that democracy didn't happen.
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys