Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Emerson vs. Fortier

Okay, explain this to me. I get why the voters of Vancouver-Kingsway are so upset, and they have every right to demand Emerson's resignation. But why is Emerson the story that keeps on ticking, while Fortier's getting mentioned only as an afterthought, if at all?

Is crossing the floor really that much worse than having an unelected Minister of Public Works who can't be held accountable during Question Period? Really?


freshly_squeezed said...

The Emerson thing is easier to get people worked up about - whenever someone switches teams, there's going to be a lot of anger, and anger gets attention.

However, I totally agree with you that the Fortier appointment is a lot worse. The Emerson defection is merely sleazy - Fortier's appointment is profoundly undemocratic.

Matt said...

This could also be a question of milking a story for longer. Emerson is a higher profile target, and good for week one. But I would be surprised if we don't see lots of play on Fortier in the weeks to come, and then procede to dig out the other skeletons in the remainder of the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Once Fortier starts making really big spending decisions at Public Works we'll see the media get interested in who he knows and what business dealings he's been involved in throughout his life. I'm sure there's a few skeletons in that closet.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I love the crossover (no pun intended) between these stories. That is, Fortier coming out and saying he thinks floor crossers should run in by-elections. Now, I agree, but how hilarious is it that an unelected cabinet minister questions the democratic legitimacy of one of his MP colleagues, while stating that HE will not run in a by-election should the opportunity arise, but will wait for the next election to run (we hope... 'cause if he changes his mind, he's there 'til he's 75... not that a politician would change his mind, eh Mr. Emerson?).

The whole thing is just surreal.

Anonymous said...

British Columbians are much more upset about this kind of thing -- we are the only province with recall legsislation, and it actually worked to get an MLA to resign. This kills Harper in BC -- he is looking like a Mulroney Tory. British Columbians won't forget. Emerson has a very small constituency in the couple hundred people in the Vancouver Board of Trade. None of those people live in Vancouver Kingsway.

There are signs all over Main Street with Emerson's face on them saying one word: Judas.

kurichina said...

I'm not surprised people are more concerned about Emerson. There's been a huge amount of dicussion about floor crossing as a result of Grewal, Stronach, Brison, etc. The Senate just isn't in the front of people's minds in the same way. And now Peter Julian is challenging it, so that puts it in the news again.

Fortier's appointment doesn't build on an existing discussion in the same way. Yeah, there's been stuff about the Senate, but the whole triple-E debate seems *so* 1980s, now. Hell, even Manning abandoned it. You'll probably correct me on this, but I've had the impression that even Fair Vote Canada is shying away from the Senate and focusing on models of electoral reform that avoid involving the Senate - especially to avoid the quagmire of amending the Constitution.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I think you misunderstand. For me, in the sentence fragment "having an unelected Minister of Public Works who can't be held accountable during Question Period," the emphasis isn't on "unelected," but on "Minister of Public Works" and "can't be held accountable during Question Period." The Senate thing is a shrug.

And as far as your characterization of Fair Vote Canada and the EEE debate goes, FVC (which didn't exist until late in 2000 anyway) has only ever been concerned with electoral reforms leading to proportional representation, and only in the House of Commons and its equivalents in the provinces.

kurichina said...

I was careless: what I meant was that FVC seems intent on avoid constitutional debates in the quest for PR, including (but limited to) discussions on the Senate. For example, I understand they've framed the PR choices in ways that explicitly avoid a constitutional amendment.

As for Ministers not held accountable in QP... well even so, I think my reasoning still stands: it just hasn't been very prominent in the public discourse. Whereas switching parties has been discussed a lot. The rareness of Fortier's appointment means that it's harder to whip up a big response to it, and there's less material out there to draw upon for the average person to articulate why it's wrong. What little there is to refer to is technical, rather than populist, also making it less suitable for tabloid opinion pieces and TV soundbites.

Declan said...

All the previous commenters have valid points, and on top of all that, the Emerson case has a clear 'victim' with a human face - the voters of Vancouver Kingsway.

In the Fortier case the victims are indirect, Harper's integrity, passed over Con backbenchers etc.

Furthermore, there is lots of precedent for appointing Senators to represent certain areas - I don't agree with it - but it's been done before.

But while people have crossed the floor before, the Emerson crossing is unprecedented in its timing and motive.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the people of Quebec are very pragmatic about elections and have not raised objections abouut the situation with regard to Fortier; so there is no pull for the media to continue to follow it.

This is not the case in regar to Emerson. The people of BC continue to raise the matter with the press and other media (open line programs).