Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On topics best avoided

Others have wondered why David Emerson won't shut up about the floor-crossing issue when he'd apparently be better off personally to let the matter die. But I have to wonder whether it's simply a matter of Emerson (and other politicians) needing to let out some politically counterproductive, "off-message" thoughts after the election. And if so, it looks like Emerson has been joined in that pastime by the man who recruited him:
Paul Martin has broken his post-election silence to blast former Liberal star recruit David Emerson for defecting to the Conservatives...

"To date, neither has been willing to subject themselves to an appropriate level of scrutiny on this matter - a decision that I believe robs Canadians and the people of Vancouver Kingsway of a deserved explanation," Martin said Wednesday in a statement from Europe, where he is on vacation.

Martin said he was "astonished" when Emerson - the man he personally recruited and named to cabinet - showed up Feb. 6 to be sworn in as the new Tory trade minister just two weeks after being elected as a Liberal.

"As we have seen, members do switch political parties when they feel their values are no longer welcome in the party they ran in. My government was the beneficiary of that phenomenon on a couple of high-profile occasions. But this situation is without precedent."
Now, I'm not entirely sure how Emerson's constant presence in the media falls short of any standard for scrutiny...and even if Emerson weren't going to the media at every opportunity, there can be little doubt that his constituents aren't about to let the issue die. But surely Martin and his party would also be best served if the Emerson controversy were to die down. And that's not only due to Martin's action in recruiting Emerson to begin with and in his apparent failure as a leader to keep his caucus and cabinet prepared for the possibility of defeat, but also in the fact that Emerson's defection helped prove that the Libs' entire campaign strategy was based on a false portayal of the Liberal party.

Mind you, I certainly won't complain about Martin keeping Emerson in the news. (And with any luck Martin's outburst will lead Emerson to continue a sniping match between the two in the press.) But it's hard to see how he or his party stands to gain anything by highlighting either Martin's poor leadership or the willingness of star Liberals to break ranks.

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