But it's still a betrayal of voters
For those who care, my original posts on the David Emerson floor-crossing are still available here. As everyone knows, all the entreaties to party activists to rise up (à la Republicans over Harriet Miers) failed utterly, but that is not the only reason I won’t repeat them, now that Mississauga-Streetsville MP Wajid Khan has crossed the floor to the Conservative caucus (and Stephen Taylor has scored a scoop).
As Tony Clement once said in another context (and I paraphrase from memory), “Don’t judge me on one decision, judge me on my whole record.” When the Emerson crossing happened, the Harper government had no record to judge: all it had was a stunning floor-crossing that (1) seemed at odds with everything Harper appeared to stand for and, (2) in my humble opinion, jettisoned the new government’s strategic advantage of being cleaner than the thinly-rejected Liberals. But, 11 months later, the Harper government does have a record, and it is a record with which I am in hearty agreement on almost every point.
Further, Khan does not offend me as much as Emerson does. What irritates me about Emerson is that he is one of those people who regard partisan politics as dirty and beneath him. The connection between the partisan rubber meeting the road and Emerson’s posterior meeting the back seat of a government car seems to have eluded him. And I am not surprised by rumours that Emerson will not run again. If he doesn’t, it means that he could have taken one of the options suggested in my February 10th post: resign his seat and handle the softwood lumber and 2010 Olympics files as a government appointee. The new government would not have had to burn up so much political capital to obtain the services of someone who considers being a mere MP to be some kind of a sucker gig.
Khan, at least, had the cojones to stand for a nomination (or at least use his superior organization to scare off anyone from running against him, if you believe the Liberal folklore).
Nevertheless, I still maintain that floor-crossing is a betrayal of voters and hence taboo (though I’m not sure a law banning it would be appropriate or even constitutional). Of course, MPs should not have to sit with a caucus they no longer support, but they should sit as Independents until they have an opportunity to stand as a candidate for the party they want to represent. To be fair, some might argue that floor-crossing is just another necessary arrow in the quiver of partisan politics, and what the Liberals are really angry about is that Harper has had better aim than they expected.
The fact that Khan was not given a cabinet position does not diminish the betrayal of his constituents, but if there is an election shortly, that may. Finally, for the love of God, can’t Khan leave his bad rug with the Liberals?