On MP David Emerson Crossing the Floor

Fifteen days ago, Vancouver-Kingsway voters re-elected David Emerson as their Liberal Member of Parliament. Yesterday, the outgoing Industry Minister declared himself a Conservative MP.

By crossing the floor, Mr. Emerson has set back the cause of democratic reform and betrayed his voters’ trust. More than 80% of Vancouver-Kingsway voters did not choose a Conservative MP. But a Conservative MP is what they’ve got.

David Emerson ran a nine-week election campaign attacking the Conservatives. He said they had a hidden agenda and were planning “massive cuts” to social programs. He said the only way to stand up for Canadian values was to vote Liberal. Days after promising to be Stephen Harper’s “worst enemy” in Parliament – that’s a quote – Mr. Emerson has joined Mr. Harper’s cabinet as a senior minister.

During the election, New Democrats cautioned that progressive Canadians shouldn’t vote Liberal because Liberals will say anything to win your vote during a campaign. Seeing Mr. Emerson prove our point gives me no satisfaction. Vancouver-Kingsway voters deserve better.

What Mr. Emerson has done is wrong. New Democrats believe it should be illegal. That’s why the NDP introduced legislation requiring any MP who wants to switch parties to seek voters’ approval in a by-election.

Yesterday, Stephen Harper said he wooed David Emerson to give his cabinet urban representation. That’s no excuse to betray voters’ trust. Instead, Mr. Harper should endorse the NDP’s call for electoral reform. Adding proportional representation will produce more diverse parliaments – regionally, ethnically and along gender lines. And it would make rare the situation Mr. Harper found himself in this time.

Finally, David Emerson says he believes Vancouver-Kingsway voters accept his decision. That they voted for the man and not the party. That’s not what I’m hearing. But he should put his guess to the test.

David Emerson should resign his seat and face voters in a by-election.