Thursday, March 25, 2010

Liberal Party To Keep Shooting 'Till They've Blown Their Feet Right Off

Ralph Goodale practically swears revenge on dissident Liberals

Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff apparently just can't control his caucus.

During a whipped vote on a Liberal motion to include contraception -- and, in thinly-veiled words, abortion -- as part of Canada's commitment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's G8 maternal and child health package, several Liberal MPs either skipped the vote or openly defied the party whip.

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale promised "consequences" for those involved.

"When that happens on votes that do involve the whip process then there are internal consequences," Goodale said. "That's something that the party administration will take care of through the whip's office. It's a matter of internal discipline."

"Members know that when they go against what is the official position of the party on a vote that is a matter of principle, like this one, that they will perhaps satisfy the consequences," Goodale continued. "Their perks of office my be constrained."

Among those "perks" are included the privilege of lobbing queries during question period.

"This will be dealt with," Goodale promised. "It will be dealt with effectively."

It would be difficult for Goodale to be more transparent: the message the Liberal party seems to be poised to send to MPs like Dan McTeague, Paul Szabo and John McKay is that when Michael Ignatieff decides to use abortion as a wedge issue, they will disregard their conscience and vote how Ignatieff tells them to vote.

That won't go over well in a Liberal caucus -- and, evidently, Liberal Party -- that is far more divided on the topic of abortion that Michael Ignatieff had given credit for.

It's the kind of thing that may leave one wondering how long it will be before MPs like Szabo, McTeague or McKay may consider crossing the floor to sit with the government -- or at least leaving the Liberal caucus to sit as independents.

And just as pro-abortion advocates must be asking themselves about the precise level of commitment the Liberal Party holds to their agenda today, anti-abortion Liberals must be asking themselves how welcome their views are within that party.

With an extreme kee-jerk reaction to their self-inflicted humiliation, Michael Ignatieff and Ralph Goodale may reveal deeper cleavages wtihin the Liberal Party than they had ever imagined before.

1 comment:

  1. This is not a short term problem for the Liberals.
    Many political parties have the same challenge in balancing the party message discipline with allowing each MP some freedom to express their own position.
    The Bloc don't allow dissent. The NDP have rarely broken ranks. The Long Gun Registry was interesting divide some rural ridings.
    Organization Chaos in not showing to vote for the abortion motion failed for many reasons.

    Freezing out the Liberals from Questions, committee spots may seem like a punishment but from where I am sitting the less time you defend the actions of the Liberal Party the improved likelihood of keeping your seat.
    The leader can risk not signing your nomination papers and force you to run as an independent. At 77 MP's with many skipping the vote without any real power to hold the line I don't see any real hammer.
    The leadership rivals may simply be dividing up the party along their lines. Quebec francophone, left, pro-life.


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