In the wake of MP Brent Rathgeber's announcement that he had left the Conservative caucus, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications Andrew MacDougall tweeted that the "people of Edmonton-St. Albert elected a Conservative Member of Parliament. Mr. Rathgeber should resign and run in a by-election."
MacDougall's tweet contradicts what Tory MPs Michelle Rempel and Scott Reid said back in 2011 when the House of Commons was debating C-306, a private member's bill introduced by NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat that would have forced MPs who change party to vacate their seat and run in a byelection. The NDP has pushed for years to pass such legislation. The bill was defeated, with the Conservatives voting unanimously against it.
Rempel voiced her opposition to the bill in the Commons and argued that "the floor crossing tradition reflects the importance of preserving the independence and mobility of members of Parliament to vote with their feet when they feel it is in the best interests of their constituents or the country to do so" (read her full statement here).
That's more or less the exact opposite of what MacDougall argued Wednesday after Rathgeber quit the party.
Reid, meanwhile, called floor crossing an "acceptable practice" and held up former MP Inky Mark and legendary British prime minister Winston Churchill as examples of MPs who crossed the floor and yet served their countries "admirably" (full statement here).
Are you surprised the Tories are all for floor crossing MPs stepping down to run in byelections now that one of their own has jumped ship? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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