Bruce Hyer goes independent

The MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North removes himself from the NDP caucus.

“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 & Trade or outright inaction, making compromise to achieve even piecemeal progress impossible.”

First elected in 2008, Hyer was left out the NDP shadow cabinet announcement last week. “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.”

Mr. Hyer broke with the party on the long gun registry last November and again in February. He endorsed Nathan Cullen during the NDP leadership race, but said he would be “very pleased” if Thomas Mulcair or Paul Dewar won. After Mr. Cullen was eliminated from contention at the leadership convention, Mr. Hyer moved to Mr. Mulcair.

Update 4:33pm EST. Below, a statement from John Rafferty, the other gun registry dissident in the NDP’s midst.

“Having worked and served next to Bruce, through good times and tough times, I want to say first that I respect him as a colleague and a parliamentarian. However, I do believe that he has made a tremendous mistake today with his announcement.

I will continue to work hard, day in and day out, with Tom Mulcair and my New Democrat colleagues so that we can undo much of the damage that has been done to our human rights, the environment, and the Northwestern Ontario economy by the Harper Conservative government and the Liberal governments before them. I believe that, under Tom’s leadership, Canada’s New Democrats are ready and can be trusted to govern in the public’s interest if and when we are given that responsibility by the people of Canada.”

Update 5:05pm EST. Below, some of Mr. Mulcair’s comments to reporters after QP this afternoon.

Well, I think that we did pretty well with our shadow cabinet shuffle. You’ll notice in the letter from Mr. Hyer that he points out specifically to the fact that he didn’t get a shadow cabinet role as being the problem. It should be borne in mind that Mr. Hyer has made it eminently clear to me during the campaign and since then that he simply doesn’t believe that you ever have to follow the decisions that have been taken by the group.  So, in other words, Bruce simply feels that he’s allowed to come up with his own decisions.

The first thing I did when I became leader is I removed the punishments that had been imposed on the two people who had broken the party line on a vote last year.  And that was one of the first things I did as a way of showing, okay, we’ve turned the page and things will be different now.

But, as Bruce says in his own letter, he doesn’t believe that he has to follow party line. I’ve said very clearly to him, because he asked me the question in writing and I answered him in writing, that there will be times when I’ll have to impose a decision that is the collective decision of our caucus. Bruce refuses to live within that system. As the saying goes, it might not be the best system in the world but it’s the only one that we’ve got. So Bruce is not able to work within that system. The result is his departure today. It’s not an ideal situation. It’s not the one that I would have preferred of course. But having only found out about it two minutes before Question Period, there was not much I could do except reach out, try to speak with him and try to get some information as to what might be able to be changed in that and I didn’t get an answer from him…

If you read the letter of my colleague, my former colleague, you will see that he is saying very clearly that the problem is that he didn’t get a shadow cabinet post. But Bruce had also very clearly communicated to me that he wasn’t going to be bound by the decisions of caucus or of the party or anybody else. So it’s quite obvious why you can’t name someone to the shadow cabinet when they’re telling you upfront that they’re not going to follow the decisions of their colleagues.

It might not be the best system in the world but it’s our system. It’s the Canadian parliamentary system. There is a caucus system. You vote with your party and you vote with your caucus and there will come times when you have to impose that. Bruce refuses that. And he’s decided to step down. I’ve known him. I’ve been in his house. I’ve met his wife. He’s got a wonderful son. I wish him well. We’re just going to have to live with the fact that he’s taken a decision that he didn’t inform me of other than through you a few minutes before Question Period.




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Bruce Hyer goes independent

  1. Shame that he did so on an issue like the gun-registry, where the anti-registry side was so clearly in the wrong. Still, that is democracy, I guess.

  2. I’d say the party co-operated with him a whole bunch, keeping him in the party for as long as it did.  Mulcair’s appearing to be the kind of guy who sticks up for women’s rights.  Gotta like that!

    • No party wants a sitting MP to leave — very bad optics especially so soon after an election; Hyer knew the party line last May and should have run independently.  But they never do that, do they?

      I am fascinated by your comment that Mulcair is sticking up for women’s rights: what in this article points to that?

      • How could Hyer have predicted Mulcair whipping the vote?  Hyer has always voted in favour of abolishing the gun registry.  Layton seemed fine with letting MPs whose constituents would vote them out if they supported the gun registry to vote against it — Layton just made sure he had enough votes to save the registry when the CPC had a minority.  What reason did Hyer have to think things would change when he ran in the last election?

        Mulcair has made it clear that he will run a tighter ship than Layton, more along the lines of Harper, but Hyer could not have predicted that.

        • Fair point, but wasn’t that some time ago?  Isn’t he basically, in interviews and his presser, saying it was because he didn’t get a shadow cab position?  As Blue snarks below, he’s pretty well the only NDP MP who didn’t get some sort of honourable mention for positions.

  3. The final insult to Mr. Hyer was Mulcair`s  announcement of the shadow cabinet where Hyer was the only MP not appointed.

    • There were 30 others not appointed, including others who had prominent roles (Claude Gravelle)…

  4. MP’s from Thunder Bay-Superior North don’t like to be whipped. Good for him. Dion booted his MP for backing a project by Conservatives. This MP is not interested in following the alarmist LGR agenda.

    • Well if he can’t be whipped into the party line, then I guess he shouldn’t be party of a party, so he did the right thing.  Betcha he won’t run again as indie.  Or if he does, Thunder Bay-Superior North gets a new MP. 

    • then why did he run as an ndp in the first place? 

      • Because Layton was leader and Layton had let him vote against the gun registry.  I always assumed Layton did that with a few MPs because he knew they would lose their seats otherwise.  If so, Hyer should still win his seat. .

        • Very difficult to mount a campaign without a party behind you; I don’t think your donors get tax receipts or something. 

  5. It certainly highlights the need for a more cooperative parliament.  Not that there is some middle ground on a gun registry–it either exists or it doesn’t–but where compromise and cooperation can be effective is in allowing the MPs we vote to represent us, uh, to represent US and not necessarily their party.  I’m fairly sure Thunder Bay is behind Mr. Hyer on this issue.  If it was something he voted against his party AND his constituents, that’s a different story.

    That said, I do understand that Mulcair can’t appoint to the shadow cabinet someone who states he isn’t going to listen to the party (when everyone else in the party will).  It shouldn’t even be a question, but with our current way of doing things, you can and therefore must demand total obedience.

    • I agree.  The lapdog mentality that all parties have headed toward undermines the strengths of our parliamentary system.  Difficult to imagine it changing though, despite a few MPs bucking the trend.  It sure is successful for Harper.

    •  There was some pretty good middle ground, esp. from the Liberals:

      “We’ll make it free.  We’ll turn the penalties for smaller infractions from crimes to fines.”

      No bites.

  6. he’s  a big baby, it has nothing to do with his constituents, he didn’t get a spot in the shadow cabinet so he leaves.  didn’t even have the decency to talk to mulcair first.  Childish.

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