Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the importance of showing up

Greg at Sinister Thoughts points out this Politics Watch article, featuring the Libs' poor excuse for the party's chronic absenteeism from Parliament:
The NDP fought back on Wednesday when NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Brian Masse held a press conference on Parliament Hill to unveil a report card on the performance of the Liberals in this Parliament.

The NDP's report card was highly critical of the absenteeism of the Liberals in the House of Commons on a number of votes, and blamed the Liberals for allowing the government motion to extend the mission in Afghanistan to pass by four votes in the House.

"In this session of Parliament, the Liberals have had the worst record of attendance of any caucus," said Masse, noting the Liberals have had an absentee rate of 18 per cent in the 24 votes held so far in this session, including 11 Liberals who were absent for the Afghanistan vote.

"You can't stand up to a full-time Conservative government, with a part-time Liberal Official Opposition . . . We are in a minority Parliament and every single vote counts in the House of Commons and affects people's lives on a daily basis."
Sounds about right. Though in fairness it should be noted that even when they show up, the Libs have been doing more to act like Cons themselves than to hold the Cons to account.

But just what is it that the Libs have apparently found to be more important than serving the interests of their constituents in Parliament?
The Liberals suggested it was unfair to target their party for absenteeism when eight caucus members are running leadership campaign and many other MPs are involved as campaign managers or organizers.
In other words, a good chunk of the Lib caucus is too busy dealing with internal party politics to bother playing a role in the overall governance of the country, and hasn't apparently made much of an effort to strike any balance between the two. And the Libs' response is to criticize the NDP for pointing that fact out, rather than to admit that MPs should spend enough time in Parliament to represent their constituents.

Not that it should be too much of a surprise to see party interests placed ahead of all else in the minds of the Libs. The question now is how long it'll take for people to stop expecting the Libs to present a meaningful opposition, and to recognize that the NDP is already doing so despite its smaller amount of resources.

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