DAY ONE: MIXED EMOTIONS

With the Martin regime finally setting into the past, Canada had a welcome change of parliament yesterday. I have mixed emotions over the days events, however.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled a much smaller cabinet than anticipated. I believe that this is in keeping with the Conservative pledge of smaller, more efficient government. Some of the big name cabinet ministers named to cabinet have been in a position of power before, with many coming from the Ontario Tory Party of former premier Mike Harris and holding down the same portfolios as they have previously done but this time on a federal level. That is a good sign because for better or for worse, the Mike Harris administration set out to do everything that it had promised to do.

On the change of government, I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I have finally found the air freshener and that somebody has rescued me from the stale closet I was stuck in.

Before I go all giddy, I must remember a pledge I made at the outset of Conservative Joe in March 2005. I stated then that “It is time to put some responsibility into peoples actions, some accountability. This site will not be bought off by anyone. It will not be swayed by those in power, nor will anyone elicit its favor.”

It is with that in mind that I must comment on the defection of David Emerson, who stronached over to the Conservative Party on Monday. I am very glad to see that the defection this time came in our direction. It has a profound psychological effect on the Liberal Party, and whittles away at the NDP’s chances to thwart the wishes of Canadians through their ‘balance of power’ stance. I think that is a good thing for the country. The road ahead just got smoother.

As well, there is now representation from every part of the country, undermining a claim the Liberals may have made at the next election that they are the only party with national representation.

However, and it’s a big however, Mr. David Emerson joins the party not as a shining knight, not to this man. As Belinda Stronach did last summer, I believe that Mr. Emerson has betrayed the very people that sent him to office. He claims that as an MP in a governing party, he will most likely be able to better represent his riding. I don’t doubt that, but this deal for his constituents is against their wishes. Like it or not, they chose to have a Liberal candidate represent them.

I find it hard to find any respect for a man who has no guiding principles. One ought to be able to state where one stands, and then be able to stand there unequivocally. That is character, and that is what I have been saying that Canada truly needs.

During the closing days of the election campaign at a Liberal pep rally, Mr. Emerson said he didn’t want “Conservative values” to guide us. Just a few short weeks ago, he stated that the Conservatives would slash and burn our social programs.

“Just mark my words, if they get elected, they are going to begin a massive review of programs and a massive set of cuts to government programs.” Under a Harper government, it would be “every man for himself, the strong survive, the weak die,” he declared. Now Mr. Emerson explains that his fears about Harper being an extremist were exaggerated.

There are only two conclusions that I can draw from these events. Either Mr. Emerson truly has no guiding principles with which to lead him, or he was simply trying to fear monger those who voted for him into doing so. Which ever one of these is true, I find it sad that the Conservative Party would find it palatable and politically expedient to welcome him into the fold.

While I don’t presume to know the in’s and out’s of the game of politics, I do understand guiding principles enough to know that they aren’t simply interchangeable when it is convenient.

I sure hope that this is only a blip on the screen and that it isn’t an indicator of the future.