Roundup: Looking to punish a maverick

One Liberal MP broke ranks from and voted for the Conservatives’ Supply Day motion on extending the consultation period on the tax changes, and the media has spent the day salivating over it, and as has become usual, is playing the role of party whip better than the party whip himself. Because drama!

Said MP, Wayne Long, conspicuously made himself absent from national caucus yesterday morning, and made himself available to media, so it’s clear that he’s being a maverick and pushing his luck rather than keeping his head down and falling into line, but at the same time, I wonder if the fact that the media makes a Big Deal of these kinds of incidents just amplifies what he did (which shouldn’t be a big deal given that it wasn’t a confidence vote), but was simply a rather performative protest motion by the Conservatives as part of their campaign to sow confusion into the tax discussion. But my concern is that when the media goes out of their way to make a Big Deal out of this issue, chasing the whip across the Foyer to his office trying to get him to give a juicy comment about the whole thing, I fear that it sets up these public expectations that MPs who don’t always toe the party line should be ousted. We saw this in Manitoba over Steven Fletcher’s vote against his party on an issue that wasn’t one of confidence, but it was the media who kept reiterating the message that he should be thrown out of caucus, until the caucus did just that. It’s so very damaging to what we want out of our democracy, and for all that the pundit class protests that we want MPs to exercise more independence, We The Media are always the first to pounce when they don’t.

On a similar note, Kady O’Malley thinks we should stop calling it “embarrassing climb downs” when governments listen to criticism and make amendments to their bills and proposals. And like the salivating that happens when MPs break ranks, this too is always the narrative that crops up when governments respond to complaints and move to make changes to improve what’s on offer. It’s how democracy should work, and yet We The Media keeps reinforcing this message that listening and adapting is a bad thing. I have to wonder if we’re really our own worst enemies sometimes.

Good reads:

  • The House of Commons passed a slightly amended Senate bill on protecting journalists’ sources, so those amendments need agreement before royal assent.
  • Mélanie Joly is getting a rough ride in Quebec as she struggles to sell the Netflix deal to that province’s cultural sector.
  • The government says that they are reviewing the refugee claim of the alleged suspect from the weekend terror attack in Edmonton.
  • The government remains uncommitted to ballistic missile defence as part of a modernized NORAD.
  • Some updated ministerial mandate letters were released, while cabinet committees got shuffled up a bit owing to the recent cabinet shuffle.
  • Animal rights activists are aghast that the RCMP is looking to re-up its supply of Muskrat fur hats as part of winter uniforms.
  • The lack of modern icebreakers could start jeopardizing the economy of Quebec ports.
  • Alberta outlined some of their marijuana legalization plans, but haven’t come to any decisions about how they plan to handle retail.
  • Former Liberal MP Paul Szabo is complaining about nomination shenanigans from the 2015 election, but I’m not sure how much of this is just sour grapes.
  • The Conservative candidate in Rona Ambrose’s old riding apologized for “feminazi” remarks, and he’s a pro-lifer to boot.
  • Jagmeet Singh has chosen former leadership rival Guy Caron as his “parliamentary leader,” which is an intolerable situation if this is to go on for the next two years.
  • Chantal Hébert wonders when the problems of this government’s own making will start to affect its poll numbers.

Odds and ends:

The government’s plaque on the new National Holocaust Memorial didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism. It has since been removed and will be replaced.

One thought on “Roundup: Looking to punish a maverick

  1. From your mouth to God’s ears!

    I’ve been doing a bit of research recently on the depth and frequency of backbench dissent at the tail end of the Chrétien government, when Martin loyalists were voting with the opposition every chance they could get. In looking through news databases from the era, I haven’t seen anything resembling this kind of self-fulfilling-prophecy coverage. Very disappointing, particularly since Long had already made it clear to the media that he didn’t agree with the proposed changes.

    Given that the NDP supports the tax reforms, Rodriguez could probably afford to allow some gun-shy MPs (especially those with marginal seats) to abstain or break the whip on this issue in the future. There doesn’t appear to be any chance of a loss of confidence given that Monday’s motion failed by a majority of 109.

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