Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Turning of Peter Stoffer

NDP MP under fire in riding over LGR vote

With debate in Canada continuing to simmer following the vote to kill Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner's long-gun registry bill, it seems that some of the rural MPs who voted in favour of that motion may not be as safe as they thought they would be.

Following his decision to about-face on the registry, Sackville-Eastern Shore MP (representing the NDP) Peter Stoffer's office was deluged with angry phone calls from constituents. Reportedly, he's still sorting through all the calls.

“I don’t use the Internet so I called every single person back,” Stoffer said. “There is no question a fair number of people have expressed their severe disappointment in me.”

Stoffer's riding has now been added to the list of rural ridings effectively on a watch-list of constituencies that have just become vulnerable.

“I can’t tell how it’s going to go. I’ll put my name on the ballot and the people will determine if I’m worthy or not,” he continued. “When you reverse a decision, a lot of people think you’ve let them down. That’s a fair comment to make.”

Interestingly, as one examines some of the other details to emerge in regard to Stoffer's strange change of heart, one wonders if perhaps that's what Stoffer's vote was actually about: keeping his name on the ballot.

Reportedly, Stoffer received calls from former NDP leaders Ed Broadbent and Alexa McDonough in the days preceding his decision.

"They did call me and offer me advice," Stoffer explained. "They basically said you should really consider what the leader is trying to do, which is find common ground. They both said that."

Stoffer insists that NDP leader Jack Layton put no pressure on him to change his vote.

"There’s no question about that, but at the same time, there’s other people who you have huge respect for saying something completely different, and that is taken into account as well," Stoffer continued.

Then again, whether or not one actually believes such an account is another matter altogether.

The public assumption when dealing with the NDP has classically been to assume that they are the "nice guys" of Canadian politics; that no one in the NDP would offer thinly-veiled suggestions that if Stoffer declined to support the long-gun registry he might find himself losing his nomination for the NDP in Sackville-Eastern Shore.

This would cost him his seat just as easily as upsetting any non-NDP-affiliated constituents who may have supported him in the last election, and may not support him the next time out.

"There are some people that have indicated they will do everything they can to defeat me," Stoffer admitted. "There is no question that personal friends that I had before may not be friends anymore. I understand that."

At least Stoffer seems content to take whatever lumps may be coming his way in the next election.

"It’s fair to say I’ve reversed my position. I’m not hiding from that," Stoffer said. "The people in my riding, in the next election, which is going to come soon, are going to determine whether they accept that or not."

It's a laudable democratic sentiment from someone who made an extremely un-laudable decision.


  1. He won his first election by 39 votes, and each election increased his vote, based on his support to defeat the registry. Will all those that changed their vote during the past election on this issue turn away from him.
    That will be a hard fought campaign next time around for him to keep his seat. Maybe he will decide it is time to spend more time with family and resign.
    I wonder how many nominations slips were threatened to not be signed by iggy/layton.

  2. If he had never supporting scrapping the LGR it would not be a problem. He rose in Parliament and had risen on a point of personal privilege his reputation and his ability to do his job was affected by false 10% on his scrapping the LGR.

    WTH! For over a decade he championed scrapping it, and he denied outside influence initially, and he had some sort of mind meld with 3,000 and 62% told him to scrap it.

    Did an organized campaign of less that 2,000 people sway his long held position?

    Anyone sill buying that story?

  3. Not at all, I think.

    I suspect that the Broadbent/McDonough conversations really must have been a thinly-veiled variation on "don't fuck with us, and we won't fuck with your nomination."

    I know this violates the "NDP nice guys" assumption, but how far do we really believe in such things?

  4. "They basically said you should really consider what the leader is trying to do, which is find common ground."

    As I understand it, you can vote either yea or nay for a bill. "Perhaps" is not an option.

  5. I had a lot of respect for Pete for his support of the CF and his four attempts to stop the clawback of CPP at age 65 for the CF and the RCMP. I found it odd that an NDPer could be so un-leftist when it came to his support for the Military. I guess his true colours have shone through.

    We had a good ally in the fight against the clawback. I say had because he's bound to loose his riding after this. Not that it matters, because even if there's an election next spring or fall and he gets the boot, he'll be 55 in Jan 2011 and can retire from parliament with his stacked benefit pension.

    You see, MP's get to collect their CPP at age 65 on top of their pension.

  6. I think they basically made Stoffer pick his poison: either vote to scrap the long-gun registry and risk losing his NDP nomination, or vote to kill the bill and risk being voted out by his constituents.

    I doubt anyone came out and said as much. But I suspect someone may have suggested it in veiled language.

  7. Probably true Pat, but with all the hard work Pete's done for his constituency, he could've stood a chance at being re-elected as an independent had he stuck to his principles.

  8. And what a great thing that would have been!

    I despise his turn on this particular issue. But I think he's been the most candid and open MP the NDP has. I've respected him immensely, and I'd like to think I'll be able to respect him again soon.


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