View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Maxime Bernier Bucks Harper Line – January 13, 2011 Ottawa Ontario

Ottawa ON – Media reports indicate that Maxime Bernier has released an open letter in which he attacks his own government’s position on a national securities regulator. They report that he was quite specific saying “As I have said in the past, I am personally convinced that securities regulation is a provincial responsibility.”

This of course is the direct opposite to the position of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. Speaking in Toronto last January, Flaherty was quite clear “Governments over the years have talked about creating a national securities regulator. We’re actually going ahead and doing it.” He repeated this theme in Calgary in September “I believe passionately that the time has come for the establishment of a Canadian securities regulator.”

The question now becomes what if anything will happen to Bernier after his most recent comments. Bernier has gone out on a limb before, but to date, neither the Prime Minister nor his minions in PMO have chopped that limb off. This time though Bernier is directly challenging and publically disagreeing with a key policy of the government.

It is not unusual for MPs of governing parties to disagree with a prime ministerial or cabinet decision. These disagreements are generally expressed in caucus meetings or in private meetings. Their viewpoints are heard and in some cases their opposition can result in changes to decisions or the reworking of policies. But it is very rare for a sitting MP to openly challenge a key government policy.

It remains to be seen if PMO allows Bernier to escape yet again. If so, then perhaps other MPs will be emboldened to speak out against other government policies that they disagree with. Will other Conservative MPs be allowed to publically oppose the F-35 purchase, or the United Emirates deal, or the government’s position on the environment or even the latest policy on ethical oil?

I think not, why then is Bernier allowed to do so?

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

4 comments

  1. Let’s hope a lot more Conservatives speak out. Harper has kept them caged up like sheep for far too long. .

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