Day Five – A way out or two . . .
David Emerson’s floor-crossing and elevation to cabinet is not evidence of deep-seated hypocrisy on the part of the Harper regime. Nor is it fatal to the Conservative party. But it is a misstep that can and should be fixed, thereby minimizing its long-term effects. Here are two ideas of how to fix it.
Idea #1: Emerson announces that he will resign and run for Parliament as a Conservative after the spring sitting of the Commons, but before the fall sitting.
The same sex marriage vote will likely be held just before the house rises in June. If it fails, that would boost Emerson’s chances of winning Vancouver-Kingsway as a Conservative. Not that he has to run in that riding at all: since Emerson obviously has little attachment to being a Member of Parliament, he would probably be willing to run in any winnable riding. Brian Pallister’s seat in Manitoba is already open [CORRECTION: The seat may become available. Pallister has not yet resigned his seat. He is in the midst of deciding whether to run for Manitoba conservative leader]. And when Liberal MPs get back from their post-election vacations, some of them may decide that they are as excited about sitting in opposition as Emerson was. There might be half a dozen or so open seats for Emerson to choose from.
Idea #2: Emerson resigns from Parliament and cabinet, and Harper appoints him to handle the softwood lumber and 2010 Olympics files, as a special envoy (or whatever title is appropriate).
I don’t understand why this was not done in the first place. As we have seen in the last few days, Emerson has little love for running for office, serving as an MP, or participating in question period. He has apparently even said that if he could turn back the clock two years, he might not have gone into politics at all. Since he is interested in serving primarily to achieve progress on particular files, why not relieve him of the duties that only distract him from those files, i.e. looking after a riding and preparing for and attending question period. As a wealthy man, I doubt that Emerson insisted on being in cabinet primarily for the car and driver.
This would also give Harper and other Conservatives the opportunity to rightfully comment on the double standard that the Liberal party (and the media, if they dare) applied to the Stronach and Emerson cases, how they have learned nothing from their 12 years of internal warfare, and are still fundamentally a pack of bloodthirsty jackals who will say and do anything (okay, maybe not in those exact words).
The government has six months to call a by-election for a vacant seat, time that could be spent organizing the riding and finding a good Conservative candidate. Even if the Conservatives fail to take the seat, it’s no loss, as they didn’t have it in their column anyway.