Monday, April 23, 2012

What's Right; and What's Left

A few things to talk about today; let's start with everyone's favourite debutant in her own mind, Bev Oda.

I woke up this morning and scanned the daily headlines to find our illustrious minister had indulged herself on the public dime during a conference in London, England.

It would seem that the five-star hotel, which was playing host to the conference, was not good enough for Bev as she checked out and went to the Savoy, 2km from the conference site.

If changing hotels wasn't bad enough, the Savoy cost $665 a night, Oda now hired a car to drive her to the conference for the days that she was in attendance. So, she increased her hotel rate AND added the extra cost of a car on top of it,

And then there's the ridiculous mention of the $16 glass of orange juice she expensed come morning...I'd say something specific about that, but the very notion of a $16 bottle of OJ is just too mind boggling to even say anything clever about.

Oda's office has been quick to hit back on this story, and suggests that the minister has repaid some of the costs associated with the trip...though they have been lax in the details of what was reimbursed.

They said that she paid for the cancellation of one night's cost at the hotel she was originally booked for; and that she repaid the $16 OJ. But there's no mention of the car service. Given that her decision to moved required the hiring of a car, that otherwise would not need to have been hired, it seems only right that she pay for it.

But we don't know if that is what occurred. And given the minister's penchant for document 'correcting', I don't know if we can even trust any of the supporting documents that come out in her defense.

Finally, that brings me to former NDP MP Mr. Hyer. Hyer stepped down from the NDP caucus today, citing a few reasons for his decision.

Firstly, the noble reason: That his censure for voting against the party in favour of the destruction if the gun registry and Mulcair's top down leadership were too much of a hindrance on his ability to represent his constituents.

And the ignoble reason: that his intentional leaving out of the Shadow Cabinet was further muzzling and denigration against him.

Let's discuss the noble reason first and why it is obviously a falsehood.

Hyer ran as a New Democrat twice before his election in 2008. As such, he would be well aware of the party's stance on the gun registry.

Furthermore, as the selected candidate in for the party, he would have been elected by NDP members as their candidate. This means that members who had a hand in drafting the party's policy in the registry would have selected him.

Many people can be defined as single-issue candidates. Garry Breitkreuz has long cornered the gun debate. Brad Trost is a pro-life advocate. Maurice Vellacott has tried for years to make custody settlements "fair" for fathers.

If Hyer felt so strongly about the gun registry, why did he run for the NDP in the first place? If the people of the riding were so clearly defined by the registry issue, why didn't they vote for the Conservatives over the NDP?

These are valid questions and undermine Hyer's credibility on stepping aside for a noble reason.

Only hard evidence from the riding can change this, and prove Hyer right. I'd the majority of his riding supporters of the Government's scrapping of the registry? Or is there a small, but vocal, minority that Hyer has bowed down to in this issue?

Until we know whether or not the majority are with Hyer, we must instead assume that he has stepped away for ignoble reasons.

Hyer mentions, oddly, that his exclusion from the shadow cabinet was another reason he decided to leave the party.

This is an odd comment for a man who is stepping down for the sake of his constituents. And it might also be a window into the real reason Hyer has stepped down.

Perhaps Hyer felt slighted by the snub; but then so should the other odd 30 some caucus members who did not get official posts in the shadow cabinet.

There's just something fishy about Hyer's need to include that parting shot in his resignation from the caucus.

Either way, as it stands, I don't think Hyer can claim the moral high ground until we know that his riding indeed is willed by the majority against the gun registry.

And that brings us to party politics. This is something that I shall construct a post on on the political philosophy blog in the coming days...

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