Is Rathgeber’s resignation a sign of things to come?

"Rathgeber’s decision comes from listening to his constituents and the moral obligation he has..."

The news that Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber has decided to resign from the Conservative party is the first bit of common sense I’ve heard emerging from the ivory towers of the Parliament Buildings in a long time.

I’m sure he isn’t the only MP to feel this way and perhaps his exit might spur more elected officials to realize they are in Ottawa to speak on our behalf, not repeat written handouts by public relations types who are more interested in keeping their jobs than representing Canadians.

More importantly I applaud Rathgeber’s decision to sit as an Independent. That immediately proved to me he’s not out to make any grandstand move by symbolically walking across the floor and joining another political party.

This isn’t the same move as Lise St. Denis made when she left the NDP party to join the Liberals.

And it’s nowhere near the audacity that David Emerson had when he left the Liberals for the Conservatives less than two weeks after an election.

Those two decisions were based more on personal motives and advancing their respective political careers than it was out of respect for Canadian voters.

But Rathgeber’s decision comes from listening to his constituents and the moral obligation he has, as an elected representative, to stand up for his riding first and foremost.

I must admit much of what comes out of Ottawa in the last few decades has been greeted with obvious skepticism and mistrust.

After all, we’ve heard about a former Prime Minister accepting an envelop stuffed with cash.

Another Prime Minister secretly funnelling funds to fight a referendum in Quebec.

So when an MP, backbencher at that, stands up for what he believes and what he believes his party should be about, it’s bound to resonate.

The fact that he didn’t accept the comfort of an opposing party tells me he’s also confident in the support his constituents have in his decision.

Imagine that, a federal MP, in the ruling party, listening to the voters rather than the spin masters.

The recent scandals surrounding our political system have driven our respect for the institution to an all-time low.

But perhaps Rathgeber is the canary in the coal mine.

Perhaps his standing up to the scripted response from the Prime Minister’s Office and the vetting of his comments is the start of something bigger.

Will other elected officials dare to stand up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his backroom buddies?

Or will they weigh the benefits of a fat pension, cushy expense account and chauffeured limousines as a reason to just keep their mouths shut.

Look at Revelstoke MP David Wilks who complained about the Conservatives omnibus budget bill last year. He told his constituents that he had “no choice,” but to vote with his party.

Rathgeber has proven that he does have a choice. It’s up to Wilks to have the backbone to follow it through and trust voters will respect him for that.

I don’t expect a mass exodus from the Conservative Party but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more Tory backbenchers speak up.

We’ve already seen two Conservative MPs, Mark Warawa and Leon Benoit, complain that their voices were silenced by their own party. Is it a matter of time before they actually have the courage to do what Rathgeber did?

I don’t think this issue is solely the domain of the Conservative Party. In the past Jean Chretien held an iron fist over the Liberal MPs of his era and Brian Mulroney was so cunning that he’s been shunned by today’s incarnation of the Tories.

No doubt members of the current opposition parties also keep tabs on what their members are saying and try to steer the narrative into exposing the party in power rather than constructive concerns on the state of the nation.

Watching NDP leader Thomas Mulcair hammer away at the Prime Minister over the Senate scandal makes for great court TV but does little to shorten the employment line or put food on a struggling family’s table.

Greedy senators and backroom deals should be dealt with by the justice system and the politicians should get back to doing what they promised to do – deal with the issues that impact Canadians.

Rathgeber’s anger boiled over when his private members bill to disclose salaries of top public servants was altered.

To me, finding out what those civil servants make would only make me angrier at the fat-cat system we have allowed to flourish.

However, his frustration at the controls hovering over elected members by the Prime Minister’s staffers is one that should concern all citizens interested in democracy.

Rathgeber’s move has provided a little bit of light at the end of the dark tunnel that is the current state of Canadian politics.

What unfolds over the next little while will tell us if his move actually had an impact or it will be business as usual in the Ivory Tower.

Just Posted

Photo: Trail Times
Trail RCMP start June by nabbing impaired drivers

Latest brief from the Trail and Greater District police

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read