Well, I'll admit, I was initially thrilled, but then wary of the news. So, rather than posting immediately, I chose to wait and see, then comment after chewing on some thoughts. So to those who were wondering where I stood (thanks for caring), here's my answer...
I initially thought that he should step down and hold a byelection, but now, I'm not so sure. After a lot of thought, and a look at what the media is saying, and the Blogging Tories, I'm going to take a fairly unpopular stand... I DON'T think he needs to hold a byelection. True, I think the optics look bad, with PM Harper running on a platform of cleaning up how Ottawa works, but I think that this defection doesn't in reality violate that principled stand.
I went over my thoughts about the Belinda affair, and I still stand by them... there was a critical vote of confidence coming up in a couple of days, and we had a PM who was desperate to cling to power by any means necessary (ie - the Grewal affiar). And, being having the business mind that she has, managed to negotiate the price for her vote... an immediate cabinet post.
Many will say that Emerson did the same thing, but I disagree. There are several factors that make this situation totally different. One, this is a NEW Government, that has not even sit in the House yet... the agenda has not yet been set, and there are no votes of confidence waiting on the horizon. Two, his defection does NOT shift the balance of power like it did with Belinda.
The right of an MP to defect, switch parties, or sit independatly, has always been a part of the system upon which our nation is built. Now, he'll have to live with, in the next election, any fallout from his own consitiuents, whenever that may be. And the fact that he did so right now has both positive and negative aspects. He was elected as a Liberal, and some people in his riding may be ticked about that, and rightly so, I think. I would have been ticked had Belinda been my rep, as I'm a Tory through and through! But when Belinda switched, I was ticked mostly for when and why she did it, not the fact that she did it. Acutally, when Kilgor left the Liberals shortly afterwards, I was hoping he would join the Tories! But, he didn't, likely due to the uproar regarding Belinda's swap, and was effectively an independent conservative anyway.
Back to Emerson. If anything, PM Harper taking on this MP is an extremely risky move... but one that could have extremely positive benfits to Canadians in many ways. One, there are now TWO representatives in Harper's Cabinet that represent the major cities... Montreal and Vancouver. And there are several others, who though are not from Toronto, understand a great deal regarding the GTA and Toronto... three of them being from Queen's Park. EVEN LIBERAL TORONTO MAYOR DAVID MILLER SAID THAT HE THINKS HARPER MADE GOOD PICKS to represent Toronto!
Apparently, it was not Emerson shopping for a new job... it was the Conservatives coming to him looking to build a bigger and better coalition from which to govern this nation more effectively... at great personal risk to themselves.
In many ways, don't you think that actually shows that this new government means business?
I was the first to admit that this didn't look to great... the optics were troublesome; having campaigned on cleaning up government, this was not the greatest way to start. But upon 24 hours of reflection, it may turn out to be a gutsy and good move for the nation. I say that this story will fall off the radar of Canadians within three to four days. The blogs will talk about it off and on for a couple of weeks, and then we won't hear about it again until the next election. As many have been saying, PM Harper is a strategist, and he's just attempted a daring manouver that could either hurt or help him both in the short and long term.
As a Christian, I agree that lying is unacceptable, but I don't know if you can say Emerson has actually been lying about anything. You could say it was dishonest, however, in what way, exactly, was he dishonest? (other than flying one set of colours, then switching) In terms of where he stands on issues, I don't think he's changed at all... he has always been a small-c conservative. The people who voted for him still have him as who he is... he has indicated that he feels he can better represent his people under PM Harper, than from the Opposition benches. (then again, so did Belinda...)
We REALLY don't know how this one will play out... we'll have to see how the history books write it. And despite everything postive I've said here about this affair, for the record, I'm not 100% decided on how I feel about this one. I just figured I'd try to broaden the discussion with a few points that I've been mulling in my head.
UPDATE: Looks like I'm not alone
in my thoughts. Read Kate's post after I made mine... it's nice to be in good company.
UPDATE II: Nope, I'm not alone
. (check the list)