The Backbench Spring: Bruce Hyer champions independence -

The Backbench Spring: Bruce Hyer champions independence

‘I was not really the one who was punished by the party and by our system here’


Shortly after Dominic LeBlanc had said his piece yesterday, Independent MP Bruce Hyer, formerly of the NDP, stood to add his support to Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.

Before the third reading vote on the long gun registry bill, for example, I was informed by the whip of my former party that if I did not vote as the party wished, then I would be “punished”. After that vote I was instantly punished: no questions, no statements, no foreign travel, no committee representation, no debating time other than asking brief questions of party debaters.

However, I was not really the one who was punished by the party and by our system here. It was the constituents of Thunder Bay—Superior North who were punished. Their voice in the House of Commons was muzzled. The person they had elected was no longer able to speak for them, to ask their questions and to raise their concerns and aspirations.

Tomorrow will be exactly one year to the day since I became an independent. I was scheduled that day to have my first S. O. 31 statement since my punishment had begun. Somehow the party found out that I would use my statement to announce my becoming independent. In the few minutes before my scheduled speaking time, they asked the Speaker to pull my statement, and the Speaker complied. However, now, as an independent, I and my constituents do get a reasonable and adequate number of questions and statements.

The similarities between my experience and that of the member for Langley are striking. We must all recognize that we have developed a problem in Parliament of excessive party control, and we must move to fix the problem before it erodes our democracy any further.


The Backbench Spring: Bruce Hyer champions independence

  1. Ah, and Bruce went forward and left the party and sits as an indie. So, Warawa, Trost, Chong, Vellacott, Rathgeber — you can always stand by your words and do the same, right? I wonder if Bruce will run again — it’s hard to win without a party behind you.

    • It is hard to win without the party behind you! And that has been said many times before here on Macleans comment boards. Good for you that you have finally figured it out too! Lol.

  2. George Washington – “…. for if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

  3. Don’t say! The NDP muzzling its MP’s?? Never! Never! Oh, my, what a hypocritical world we live in. Harper bad, bad, bad because he muzzles his members. Mulcair good, good, good, because he muzzles his members!

    • No; bad, bad bad no matter which party does it.

    • That damn Mulcair wants to stick Canadians with a $20 billion carbon tax, right Francien?

  4. It’s been a year, has there been any polling to see how Hyer’s support as an indie is holding up?

  5. Apparently local news in Thunder Bay is saying Bruce Hyer is highly popular there in Northern Ontario since becoming an independent. He may have lost some hard-core NDP voters but he’s very likely gained some soft Liberal and especially some soft Conservative and Green voters. He’s outspoken and it can’t hurt that his independence lets him say things that politicians beholden to a political party can’t.