Free the Newfoundland Two


Michael Ignatieff on the Newfoundland Two.

“Lets not talk about discipline yet. If there is discrimination against and broken faith with Newfoundland, we are going to make our position very clear to the prime minister and in the House.”

At the risk of asking a silly question, why talk about discipline at all? Shouldn’t discipline be reserved for actual wrongdoing? And can voting as you see fit—and, theoretically, in the bests interests of your constituents—ever be classified as wrongdoing? If the Prime Minister or, in this case, the leader of the opposition, want a piece of legislation passed, isn’t the onus on them to persuade a sufficient number of MPs to vote their way?


Free the Newfoundland Two

  1. “And can voting as you see fit—and, theoretically, in the bests interests of your constituents—ever be classified as wrongdoing?”

    No, if you run as an independent.

    But if you run under a party banner, there are two factors at work. First, your constituents elected you as a member of said party, which implies your house votes will likely follow party lines.

    Second, part of the reason your bum occupies a seat in the house is due to the leadership, policies and campaign support provided by your party. Nobody is forced to run for a party, and as such some loyalty is inherent in the deal.

    Not that individual members shouldn’t always consider their votes carefully, but party membership entails tacit undertstandings and obligations that cannot be ignored without good reason. I don’t sense that a Newfoundland and Labrador tantrum constitutes such a reason.

    • Sorry, but standing up for the interests of yr constituents if they make sense in yr judgement as the local MPis one of the most neglected aspects of our democracy, and a key reason for voter apathy.

    • But the largest reason their bums are in the House is because Danny Williams told voters to make it so. In other words, they’re trying to bow to the real power broker here.

      • And suddenly some of the Liberals who were on the bus and the plane start having second thoughts about the wisdom of the ABC campaign.

        Well, alright, ONE Of them does.

  2. And can voting as you see fit—and, theoretically, in the bests interests of your constituents—ever be classified as wrongdoing?

    Um… what? Rightly or wrongly, party discipline is a pretty fundamental aspect of a functioning parliamentary system, what with confidence votes and all that. Let’s not try to subvert the entire system by encouraging individual MPs to think with their brains and act accordingly.

  3. “party discipline is a pretty fundamental aspect of a functioning parliamentary system”

    “Discipline” in this case means, vote with your conscience, and we will deny you the funds needed to campaign for re-election.

    You see a problem with the way that political fundraising is regulated. If Party ‘A’ gets votes in a riding, it is not the riding association, which actually got out the vote, which receives the federal pork-per-vote. It is the central powers in Ottawa who make the score. Local political workers and MPs are turned in to the serfs of their own centralized bureaucracy in the same way the taxpayers are made into serfs of the various federal ministries. Independence, integrity, honesty, initiative and hard work are flattened by the steamroller from Ottawa. Every new regulation, although ostensibly intended to help the little people, is really just a tool for grabbing more power and money into the arms of the regulators, and their cronies.

    Judging from voter turnout trends, the revenge of the little people is to stop voting and thereby gradually and silently starve the steamroller of the perception of credibility and legitimacy which is necessary for its operation.

    • Excellent point. We should have Elections Canada dole out the per-vote subsidy to the riding associations. At a stroke, that would kill the tyranny of the party HQ’s.

  4. Good questions all Aaron. Let’s ask John Nunziata.

  5. As Olaf points out, party discipline is the backbone of our current parliamentary system. But how’s that been working out? Notice anything dysfunctional?

    While I grant it is a novel concept, allowing MPs to think with their brains and vote in the best interest of their constituents, sort of giving power to the people who elected them, is so crazy it JUST MIGHT WORK!

  6. Letting these two vote in the interests of Newfoundland guarantees Newfoundland will vote Liberal forever. Let them vote to protect the provinces interests.

    They will be Newfoundlands equivalent of Bill Casey, but in a way that further erodes Harper’s influence.

  7. Thankfully Olaf’s chosen tribe has disengaged brain and will continue to act in the interest of the PM only…

  8. Poor Iggy on this one. On the one hand he can stand up in the house with fiery rhetoric loudly proclaim the LPC the party of openess and individual conscience and bla bla bla bla – then allow the MP’s to phone in sick or whatever .. all of a suddenly the law of unintended consequences engages and if you don’t see what could happen do a little research about MP’s who won’t vote with the party in question on a budget (enough said as it isn’t pretty). Then again he might want to show what sort of backbone he has when it comes to controlling his own party and if he is willing to take a hit for the team as it were showing if he has any mettle – time to consult the entrails and see if the oracle has found any spots on the liver. Lose lose here all the way.

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