Quote: Originally Posted by relic
oh for the good ol' days,when they just handed out rum.
And now from Rex.
Whatâ€™s this? A politician with a backbone? | Full Comment | National Post
The resignation of Brent Rathgeber from the Tory caucus presents a rare sight: a politician who cares more about his principles than his personal advancement within Parliament’s hierarchy.
But this phenomenon is not unprecedented. In this regard, let me supply two noteworthy examples from my native province.
A long while ago, in the then-new province of Newfoundland, there was a great uproar when a highly esteemed, salt-of-the-earth minister in Joey Smallwood’s post-Confederation cabinet suddenly up and resigned. His name, unknown to many Canadians outside Newfoundland, but both revered and well known at home, was Ted Russell.
Russell was a man of modest means and strong conscience. He thought Smallwood was doing things he ought not to have been doing, that Smallwood was drifting toward a form of megalomania. His Cabinet was an applause choir. Russell had tried to tame the new Premier’s ego. But he failed, and seeing that he could not change what he thought was wrong, he resigned.
Russell knew that he was incurring the inevitable and sleepless wrath of Joey, and even courting financial ruin. (Smallwood was known to pursue those who crossed him with vigor and venom, whether they stayed in politics or not.) But Russell did the honorable thing anyway. He stepped down, suffered something very close to persecution, and was abandoned by his Liberal friends (or pseudo-friends as they turned out to be). His example remains a beacon in the practice of Newfoundland politics to this day.
Flash forward some 20 years, and there is another Newfoundland figure, this one known well to Canadians everywhere, who jumped headfirst into another contest with Smallwood, during the wrathful sunset of the tireless Premier’s career.
As his power diminished, Smallwood became more vicious and wild. Those who opposed him were seen as “enemies.” But John Crosbie, who ran against Smallwood for control of his party in 1969, had courage and independence of mind. He took all that the famous and ferocious Smallwood temper could hurl at him, his family, his friends and business.
I thought of both Russell and Crosbie as I watched this week’s saga of Brent Rathgeber, who has left the national Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent. Mr. Rathgeber does so to protest the “concentration of power” in the PMO, and the treatment of individual MPs as, in his words, “trained seals.”
Parliament could use more people who resist the high hand of their respective party whips. The Conservative party itself would be in better shape if more MPs simply told the “brains” in the PMO and the wizards who do strategy to just go away.
This Prime Minister needs a bit of sense shouted at him. A few more MPs with backbones, and no lust for the perqs of ministerial office, would be a godsend. The same goes for other parties. (The Liberals, for instance, need someone to shout at Justin Trudeau when he is at his most vaporously platitudinous.)
No matter what one’s party affiliation, Rathberger supplies a fine role model in this regard. Like Russell and Crosbie, he refused to be intimidated, refused to elevate his own ambition above his actual role as representative. Canada needs more politicians like him.