Do you think the headline of this post is actually going to happen to David Emerson, who crossed the floor today to join the Conservative party? Me neither.
OTTAWA - Former Liberal industry minister David Emerson will cross the floor and sit in the Conservative cabinet.
Stunned onlookers barely had a chance to ask a question of the Vancouver MP and former head of lumber giant Canfor as he strolled into Rideau Hall shortly before the Tory cabinet was being announced.
Pinching Emerson might be seen as Conservative retribution for the defection of Belinda Stronach, who went from being a Tory leadership candidate to a Liberal cabinet minister in about a year.
Several Conservatives responded by demanding laws forcing floor-crossers to go back to the electorate for another mandate.
In the recent federal election, Emerson was featured in televised Liberal election ads promoting the party in British Columbia.
He was also frequently under fire from the Tories in the last Parliament over a multibillion-dollar program in the Industry Department.
It is interesting to recall the reaction to Belinda Stronach's defection, which one could categorize as spittle-flecked rage on the part of the many conservative commentators. Even the most reasonable of voices got somewhat strident.
She was a traitor, a slut, a dumb blonde to name but a few of the epithets that were lobbed her way. How could she go from Conservative leadership hopeful to Liberal Cabinet Minister? Doesn't she have any principles? Actually, it was a pretty easy move for her, as she saw the Red Tory wing that she was part of being slowly purged from Conservative ranks.
She swears she didn't leave the Tories to get a cabinet job, because with all the non-confidence in the air she might have lasted as the Hon. Ms. Stronach for only a day.
"Baloney, And I certainly am not in it for the lifestyle." Yes, you should see the digs for her dad's outfit, called the Magna compound by locals. Stunning in the English manor sort of stunning.
Belinda maintains she just wanted the budget passed and she didn't think Stephen Harper should've pushed for a vote without more party support in Quebec.
She does talk about Harper, who is clearly not her kind of guy. "I wanted to see a modern mainstream party. The Conservative party is not the party of Brian Mulroney, fiscally conservative but socially liberal. They are fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Canadians are more middle of the road."
Sounds pretty sensible, really, but that didn't stop conservative commentators from going completely bonkers.
Emerson, I suppose, could make a similar claim that he was following his principles, coming as he does from the Blue Grit camp of the Liberal Party.
David Emerson was first elected to the House of Commons, in 2004. He attended the University of Alberta and obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics. He then went on to Queen’s University, where he received his doctorate in economics.
In 1975, Mr. Emerson joined the Government of British Columbia, becoming the province's deputy minister of finance in 1984.
In 1986, Mr. Emerson left government to become president and CEO of the Western and Pacific Bank of Canada. Four years later, he was appointed deputy minister of finance, then deputy minister to the Premier and later president of B.C. Trade Development Corporation.
In 1992, David Emerson was appointed to lead the newly created Vancouver International Airport Authority. In 1998, Mr. Emerson was appointed president and CEO of Canfor Corporation.
So more power to him, I say. If he does his job well, the people of Vancouver-Kingsway will probably accept his floor-crossing as part of politics as usual. Certainly Stronach earned the respect and trust of her consituents, winning the last election more convincingly than she did as a Conservative.
Regardless, I calmly await the principled rage the Blogging Tories will no doubt send the traitorous Mr. Emerson's way.
Update: Edited to correct the name of Mr. Emerson's riding. (Thanks to Declan for noting the error.)
Update II: Damian, who appears to be on his last legs from some politically-caused bronchial spasm, notes in the comments that there is some dismay from right-of-centre circles.
I'll tell you how I'd feel if I were one of the plurality of voters who elected him as a Liberal: cheated.
And as for Harper and the Conservatives helping him vitiate the democratic intent of the voters of Vancouver-Kingsway, I say: for shame.
It's possible to have an honest change of heart in politics. It's even possible to have such a change of heart so soon after an election in which the lines of attack were drawn months in advance - unlikely, but still possible.
But it's also possible to sit as an independent, and vote your conscience. It's possible to seek the nomination of another party, and get an honest endorsement from the voters of your riding. In other words, it's possible to behave honourably in politics.
What an abysmal beginning to a Parliament for which I had such high hopes.
And yes, Damian, I note that Emerson was rewarded with a cabinet post, just like Belinda was. That's going to cheese off some longtime Conservative loyalists, who have worked patiently for years to get a seat at the big table. An inauspicous start for Harper's government.