Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Where have you gone Joe Comuzzi

Not a big deal since he's already said he wasn't going to run again, but Joe Comuzzi has been kicked out of Liberal caucus over his decision to back the Harper budget.

Hard to disagree with booting him on this. On the grand daddy of all confidence motions, party unity needs to reign supreme.

40 Comments:

  • I guess I don't get the whole party system -- if an MP likes/dislikes a budget or bill, I feel that MP should be able to vote for/against it.

    MPs represent Canadians, not parties.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 3:52 PM  

  • I hope somebody thinks to ask Garth Turner for his comments...

    By Blogger DM, at 3:53 PM  

  • It is of little consequence to anybody. Hes going to sit as an independant and is a few months away from retirement.

    By Blogger BenParsons, at 4:08 PM  

  • "MPs represent Canadians, not parties."

    That would be nice, but it's not the reality.

    By Blogger Dan McKenzie, at 4:11 PM  

  • I have to agree with Dan: the budget, along with the vote on the Throne Speech, is about the biggest confidence vote there is.

    All I would say is, the timing is odd. To take the best recent example: Chretien gave Nunziata (sp?) the gate, but I thought - and I could be wrong - it only happened AFTER John N. voted against the budget. There hasn't been a budget vote yet this time.

    Dion wouldn't have a choice re: expelling Joe C after Comuzzi voted against the party line, but I have to wonder why all of this exploded before any budget vote was held. The timing of this doesn't help Dion very much, even if the final outcome may have been out of his hands.

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 4:18 PM  

  • Why is it that when Harper reins in his MP's, he's being a dictator and a power hungry leader. And when Dion does it, he's making tough decisions that are for the benefit of the party. You can't have it both ways.

    By Blogger Prairie Kid, at 4:36 PM  

  • jason; Greg at political staples was speculating that this was a pre-emptive strike to make sure none of the Quebec MPs break rank.

    prairie; I think Harper did the right thing by booting Turner from caucus.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:59 PM  

  • This is the nature of partisan politics. Apparently, democracy and freedom of speech don't exist inside our parliament. If a member supports a motion, let him/her vote their conscience and allow the electoral process deal with there choice.
    It is all moot anyway as most of the 77 priorities won't see the light of day before the eventual writ is dropped and a new government is elected. If Tory, they can proceed with a diferent agenda or if Grit (unlikely on Dion's watch) they can dismantle any apparayus put in place that is distasteful.

    With all the pettiness, back stabbing and grandstanding it is no wonder that the voters are abandoning the electoral process.

    By Blogger Bob McInnis, at 5:02 PM  

  • I would much rather have party line voting that what happens in the US where lobbyists can convince any member of the house or senate to vote any way, and bills have ammendments tacked on to them for votes. That's not democracy that's just money talking. Comuzzi needed to be shown the door and I don't think his riding association will be very pleased with him.

    By Blogger s.b., at 5:26 PM  

  • "MPs represent Canadians, not parties.

    I posted on this topic over at BCL - hope no one minds if I paraphrase here:

    Everyone knows the way party politics work in Canada. Everyone knows that, on certain bills, the vote is determined by the leader of the party. Candidates know this when they campaign for the liberal nomination, when they accept that nomination, and when they accept the financial and infrastructure support from the liberal party when they run in the federal election.

    Everyone knows that at a leadership convention, the rank and file choose the leader. That is how it should be, because the rank and file support this party financially, through volunteer work and with their votes. MP's are important, but they owe their existence to the rank and file.

    Everyone knows that if you want your party to follow a certain path, you either support someone who shares your view or you run for leader yourself. If you lose, it is because the majority of the party do not agree with you, and you should accept their decision.

    Everyone knows that when you elect an MP, you are doing more than electing a representative of your riding - you are electing a member of a particular political party, with all the requirements that go with that membership.

    If an individual does not want to follow the direction of his/her leader, (s)he should run as an independant rather than accept the financial backing from the liberal party. I do not know if this man would have become an MP sitting as an independant, but that does not matter. He chose to run under the liberal banner. If he wanted to vote independently, he could have made a different choice.

    I personally do not think it is particularly courageous or honourable to break ranks when he knows he is not running again.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 5:38 PM  

  • This is reminiscent of Belinda Stronach's claim that she had to break ranks with the Conservatives and join the Liberals, because the good people of Newmarket-Aurora needed the latest version of Ralph Goodale's 2005 budget to pass. Do any of you Grits lauding your man Dion remember whether you agreed with Stronach or Harper back in 2005?

    By Blogger DM, at 5:50 PM  

  • dm - if Stronach had broken ranks and voted for the budget while still a conservative MP - you can bet your life she would have been kicked out of caucus.

    We all know MP's break ranks - but when they do they pay a price, and I have no problem with that no matter which party they are from.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 5:52 PM  

  • CG: That could be so. Also, since I posted the original comment above, the Globe has expanded its original story - and it makes it look like Joe C came right out and said that he was definitely voting for the budget, no matter what.

    If that's so - and I haven't had a chance to see any of this on TV yet, so I really can't say who said what when - then Dion really didn't have a choice.

    I'm obviously no big fan of Stephane, and I'm for more free votes, not less. But when one of a party's MPs essentially says "go to hell" to the stated party line on an issue like the budget, the leader really doesn't have a lot of choice in the matter: the MP either recants before voting, or gets shown the door.

    Jason BG, I think your sentiments are noble, but unless we go the NWT/Nunavut route and elect nothing but independents, I can't oppose any leader taking a firm stand on something like the budget.

    All of that said, it takes guts for Joe C to do what he did, even if he isn't running again. In fact, given that he's not running, he could have played nice and voted with the folks he's served with since '88, and wouldn't have had to worry about facing the electors back home.

    Instead, he stuck up for what he saw as his riding's interests, even though he must have known that he was leaving Dion no choice, and that he'd probably tick off a lot of the people that he'd been sitting with for close to 20 years.

    Of course, it's still all Dion's fault for coming out against the budget in the first place ;)

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 6:21 PM  

  • Comuzzi is voting for the budget because it contains vital funding specifically for his riding. To vote against it would be insane.

    Chalk up this riding as another lost one for the liberals. Dion is doing really well. Three months, two mp's...

    By Blogger renegadejet, at 6:22 PM  

  • I think Harper did the right thing by booting Turner from caucus.

    CG - You're one of the few Liberal bloggers (maybe the only one) I know of that has taken this stance.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 8:05 PM  

  • Then let's have an all independents system in the House - fine with me. I tire of this stupidity - I'm interested in how to make Canada work better, not anyone's party.

    MPs should vote with their conscience, not with Harper's or Dion's or any other leaders.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:14 PM  

  • Prairie Kid sed: "Why is it that when Harper reins in his MP's, he's being a dictator and a power hungry leader. And when Dion does it, he's making tough decisions that are for the benefit of the party."

    Why is it when Harpor reins in his MPs and slops out bully slogans, he's a bold, decisive leader; When Dion reins in his MPs (after a lengthy open debate in caucus) and gives his former leadership rivals strong positions at the table, he's a weak leader?

    Seems you Blue-types can't have it both ways, either...

    Oh and DM, Stronach prefaced her defection not only about budgetary items, but also about the fact that there was a major schism in Harpor's caucus and that she felt the Tories under his leadership were heading into 'So-Con zone.'
    Get your facts straight.

    By Blogger burlivespipe, at 8:53 PM  

  • which she really got bang-on! vaccinations for HPV? A theocracy in the making!!

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 8:57 PM  

  • Then let's have an all independents system in the House - fine with me. I tire of this stupidity - I'm interested in how to make Canada work better, not anyone's party.

    MPs should vote with their conscience, not with Harper's or Dion's or any other leaders.


    I don't necessarily disagree... except that parties or at least relatively clear groups of MPs are more or less inevitable. But the sort of highly centralized parties we have now - which put the leader in the position of dictator of the party between conventions - ought to be reformed. One thing to do would be to require that leaders be elected from sitting MPs. With leaders elected by "democratic" leadership conventions or phantom party members in a one-member-one-vote contest, the leader gains considerably power over MPs and pretty much everyone else to do what he or she pleases.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 9:04 PM  

  • I think MPs should be allowed to break ranks on most issues, but not on matters of confidence. On matters of confidence the party should vote in unison, while on other issues free votes should be granted if the party has no formal position, while on other issues, MPs should only be allowed to vote against the party if they don't do so regularly and have a good reason for doing so.

    Sb - You can allow more free votes without the problems the US faces if you restrict campaign spending as Canada does. Britain allows free votes on most issues, but they restrict campaign spending unlike the United States so special interest groups cannot spend huge amounts of money to support or oppose MPs. When you have problems is if you allow free votes and have no restrictions on third party spending and campaign donations. Otherwise you have to choose one or the other not both.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 9:44 PM  

  • I think MPs should be allowed to break ranks on most issues, but not on matters of confidence.

    It's funny... that used to be Reform Party policy. It may still be Conservative Party policy.

    Yet which party has the most monolithic voting record in the House? And the lowest record for dissenting votes?*






    * With the possible exception of the BQ.

    By Blogger WJM, at 9:51 PM  

  • Calgary Grit, Joe should resign immediately. Joe is doing this to grind away at ole wounds and put the other NWO MP's in tight spots. Ken Boschoff and Roger Valley are now put in the position to have to defend their positions even more. Joe is all about Joe and he should finally resign so we can call a byelection and have either Donald Patterson or Michael Gravelle represents the intersts of the constituents of Thunder Bay Superior North. Ask Joe what the budget did for the 40% unemployed Forest Processing workers in his riding? or the 1.3 billion the USA still owes to the Buchanan Forest Products the biggest employer in his riding? What about the fact that most Thunder Bayer now work in Fort McMurray? Joe Quit ..RF NOW!!! Lets get a Liberal who is a team player elected!!1

    By Blogger Browners Blog, at 10:42 PM  

  • Will Dion expel everyone from the Liberal caucus who failed to vote against last year's budget?

    If not, then why would he expel Comuzzi before a vote is held, except to reveal his intolerance?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 11:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Bibendum, at 11:15 PM  

  • Um, who says MPs can't vote how they like? They can and they do. They are still an MP. If there happens to be a "team" of MPs who have agreed to band together to attempt to have more impact, that team of MPs, or the leader of that team, is free to tell an MP who didn't vote the way they have decided is best that they don't want him to be part of the team. What's wrong with that? (What you may wish to take issue with is public monies going to teams of candidates to run in elections, but that's a whole other issue).

    By Blogger Bibendum, at 11:17 PM  

  • Lets get a Liberal who is a team player elected!!

    Right on! Because the most important thing ever in the whole wide world, not to mention the country, is the party! P A R T Y!

    Um, who says MPs can't vote how they like?

    Uhh, that would today be "Stephane Dion". Alternately, try any other party leader who dictates how MPs should vote.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:37 PM  

  • This shouldn't even be an issue. I defy anyone to find any party leader in the history of Canada who wouldn't expel someone over breaking ranks on a budget vote.

    Gimme one instance.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:12 AM  

  • "Um, who says MPs can't vote how they like?

    Uhh, that would today be "Stephane Dion". Alternately, try any other party leader who dictates how MPs should vote."

    Um - wrong. Dion simply said he cannot vote the way he likes and remain in the caucus - and he was right to do so. Dion cannot stop him from voting his conscience, but Dion is the leader of the liberal party and as such it is his job to make sure the party as a whole represents the interests of Canadians, as a whole. If Mr. Cormuzzi wants to represent only the interests of his riding, without consideration of the rest of the country, then he should be an independent.

    CG - I am sorry I do not have a lot of details on this as I was not paying close attention, but one of the media pundits on Duffy tonight was saying that a conservative MP said she would vote against the budget if she could, but she knew doing so would result in her removal from caucus. I believe she was from the Maritimes and she knows that the budget is going to make it hard for her to be re-elected.

    As I said, I do not know the details so take it for what it is worth.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 12:19 AM  

  • Look, it's the optics on this that make Dion look like a doofus - Nice Old Canadian Man thrown out of Liberal Party by dictatorial Gaullist ... my pet parrot could have handled this better.

    By Blogger fair sailing, at 6:42 AM  

  • I defy anyone to find any party leader in the history of Canada who wouldn't expel someone over breaking ranks on a budget vote.

    I for one can't, Dan - which is a real shame. It shouldn't be like that.

    Canadians don't go to the polls to find an MP who will do what's best for the Tories or Liberals or Whoever. The government needs the confidence of the House, not of party leaders.

    Why don't we just send MPs home on confidence issues, in that case, and only let Harper, Dion, Layton and Duceppe show up, each carrying a bag of marbles equal to the number of MPs they have in tow. It would be much faster and more efficient.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:05 AM  

  • "Canadians don't go to the polls to find an MP who will do what's best for the Tories or Liberals or Whoever. The government needs the confidence of the House, not of party leaders."

    Jason, really you are looking at this the wrong way. It is not about the party - it is about the country. Canadians elect a party - and they choose the party that is best for their country. I would guess that many people vote on the basis of party lines rather than for their candidate. I do not think an MP who thinks only of regional issues will be all that effective.

    When Anne McLellan was an MP during the liberal government, all of Edmonton benefitted (the most obvious example was the location of the military base in Edmonton). That would not have happened if she were not a member of the ruling party. At the same time, she endorsed the Gun Registry, which did not endear her to many of her constituents, but she did it because she felt it was the right thing to do for her country.

    That is the kind of MP I want.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 12:15 PM  

  • one of the media pundits on Duffy tonight was saying that a conservative MP said she would vote against the budget if she could, but she knew doing so would result in her removal from caucus. I believe she was from the Maritimes and she knows that the budget is going to make it hard for her to be re-elected.

    That's rather unlikely, seeings how the Conservatives don't have any female Maritime MPs.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 2:26 PM  

  • I think she is from Québec.

    By Blogger Crabgrass, at 2:35 PM  

  • ...this is the right thing for the people of my riding. They are who have entrusted me to represent them...

    ...if doing the right thing has consequences, I must accept them. However I will never, never put my gain in front of representing my constituents...


    ~Joe Comuzzi

    That's the kind of MP that I want.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 4:27 PM  

  • And I respect that Jason - but he should be an independent. The party represents the best interests of the COUNTRY.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 6:44 PM  

  • I think she is from Québec.

    Well, that province has two female Conservative MPs, which would kinda defeat the purpose of not giving her name.

    And why would the budget "make it hard for her to be re-elected"? I thought Quebec was the place that got the unfair advantage from it...

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 6:54 PM  

  • Like I said, I did not pay close attention, so you must take this information with that in mind. The reporter did give her name though - that much I remember, because I was very surprised by that.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 8:05 PM  

  • Clarification:

    The woman in question is not an MP but a potential candidate for the Tories in Altantic Canada. National newswatch has the details.

    I think it shows how desperately the media is grasping to show an equivalency here! :)

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:44 PM  

  • chucker - are you suggesting that if one of Harper's MP's decided to vote against the budget, you think Harper would simply pat him on the back and say "Do what you gotta do"? The media do not have to stretch to show equivalencies -they all know the same would apply to any MP of any party.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 9:48 PM  

  • For all the hulabaloo we put up about MPs having to tow the party line in Canada because of the way our system works, it should be noted that MPs frequently break ranks with their respective parties in Britain, and have done so throughout history. Harold Wilson held a majority government in the 1960's, but couldn't pass his centrepiece legislation (the nationalization of the steel industry) because he couldn't convince enough of his own MPs to vote for it. Tony Blair's caucus frequently grills him in Question Period without fear of being booted in caucus. Heck, Ramsay MacDonald crossed the floor in the 1930's, and he was the FRIGGIN' PRIME MINISTER!

    So, this idea that our parliament should be some sort of rock-steady tetrarchy, where the voices of 304 representatives bow to the will of 4, is a relatively "Canadian" twist on the Westminster system.

    By Blogger daniel, at 9:55 PM  

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