Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Priorities

When I interviewed Stéphane Dion back in September, he had this to say about whipping the vote on Harper's renewal of the Afghanistan mission:

One mistake we made was to be divided about the shameful motion that Mr. Harper decided to have about the two-years' extension to the motion in Afghanistan. We should have had a whipped vote for everyone to vote against this motion. [...] We should have voted against that as a party and as the official opposition. I'm very disappointed that this was not done.
Dion clearly believes in whipping the vote when it's necessary--i.e., when it's important to show party unity so that your opponents can't use your party's dividedness against you in a leadership race. When that leadership race is over, though, and minority rights may be riding on whether or not the same-sex marriage issue gets reopened, apparently it's not nearly so important.

5 comments:

Charlie Barnard said...

Dion said that if the SSM motion passes, and we get past the debate on wether to have a debate, he will whip the vote. He has made it clear that the liberal party will defend the charter rights of Canadians. The reason for the free vote in his words, is to show that the overwhelming majority of liberal MPs feel the same way. Personally, if my MP voted in favor of this bill, he or she would not get my vote next election, liberal or otherwise.

Olaf said...

IP,

Good point. What I'm shocked about is how Dion, and many others in the Liberal party, can use such caustic rhetoric around the issue, "the PM wants to trample on our charter rights" (I paraphrase), when so many Liberal MPs voted against the law last time around. Shouldn't he be rebuking the members of his own party who are so insistent on trampling human rights?

Jen said...

Unfortunately, it just happens that this issue is caught up with political showmanship - the Tories want to show that they're the more 'democratic' party by allowing a free vote (despite, as the CBC just pointed out, the Tories penchant for free voting 'comes and goes', viz Quebec nationhood, e.g.), the Liberals want to respond by showing that they're just as democratic and will allow a free vote. Couldn't it have been another issue? Like, oh, I dunno, keeping the Queen on coins or something?

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this, though. On the one hand, yes, a whipped vote would make it clear that protection of rights is a real priority for the Liberals. On the other hand, the headbangers have been using the fact that the Liberal cabinet (not even the caucus, just the cabinet) was whipped last time as the "reason" for re-opening the whole damn thing again. There's really no question that this motion will fail dramatically, even with the Liberals not whipped, and there will be one less excuse to bring it up yet again. So, much as it troubles me on one level, it may actually be the right call on Dion's part.

-- maggie h

L-girl said...

I thought it was smart not to whip the vote on this issue. One, the Conservatives can never say that this bill would have passed had the Liberals allowed their MPs a free vote. And two, now we know how every MP stands. As Charlie Barnard says above, Liberal voters who care about this issue now know something important about their MP.