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Monday, August 11, 2008

david emerson for edmonton-east.

The Edmonton Journal ran an interesting piece this weekend speculating on the potential of Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson to run in Edmonton in the next general election.

Infamous for joining Stephen Harper's Conservative Cabinet only days after being re-elected as a Liberal MP for Vancouver-Kingsway in 2006, Emerson is rumoured to be seeking a different seat to contest in the next election (the last time Vancouver-Kingsway elected a Conservative was in 1958). Though there was no shortage of backlash against Emerson's crossing the floor from constituents and opposing partisans, I believe that Emerson's lack of partisan loyalties is the point which they are missing.

It should have become pretty clear that David Emerson did not enter elected politics to join the "Liberal" or "Conservative" clubs, but to use his skills, experience, and knowledge to do the best job he could as an MP -- and it is understandable that being a Cabinet Minister (be it Liberal or Conservative) would put him in a much more effective position to complete this goal. Unlike some politicians, who would cross the floor for more opportunistic reasons, it isn't hard to see that Emerson isn't interested in playing the game of petty partisanship.

Would Emerson be a good fit for Edmonton? Raised in Grande Prairie, Emerson earned his Bachelor and Masters in Economics from the University of Alberta, a Ph.D. in Economics from Queen's University, and has served as British Columbia's Deputy Minister of Finance, CEO of the Pacific & Western Bank of Canada, and CEO and President of the Canfor Corporation. A heavy weight who would inject as powerful amount of bench strength into Edmonton's parliamentary delegation, Emerson could fill the high-profile political void left after Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan's defeat in 2006.

Which constituency would Emerson run in? With Reform-era MPs John Williams and Ken Epp retiring and the Conservatives having already nominated candidates in both Edmonton-St. Albert and Edmonton-Sherwood Park (Brent Rathgeber and Tim Uppal), and most of the remaining Conservative MPs on the younger edge of the Parliamentary age scale (under 50), the pool of available seats in Edmonton is narrow.

I'm left thinking Edmonton-East. After 11 years in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Peter Goldring is an unlikely pick for cabinet, and though I'm sure he served an extraordinary term as the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, it's not unreasonable to speculate that the 64-year old may have reached the height of his parliamentary career. Though Emerson would face a strong challenge from former NDP MLA Ray Martin, Edmonton could prove to be friendlier territory than Vancouver-Kingsway, should he choose to seek re-election here.

Overall, if he decided to contest the election in Edmonton-East, Emerson could represent Edmonton well in the next parliament if he decided to return to the city of his Alma mater.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

But wouldn't Neil Waugh and Rick Bell make fun of him for having a PhD?

"Dr. Emerson..."

Anonymous said...

"It should have become pretty clear that David Emerson did not enter elected politics to join the "Liberal" or "Conservative" clubs, but to use his skills, experience, and knowledge to do the best job he could as an MP -- and it is understandable that being a Cabinet Minister (be it Liberal or Conservative) would put him in a much more effective position to complete this goal."

But isn't that the argument that the PC Party makes in Alberta--that "a voice in government", even if it's a loser backbencher, is more effective a representative than an opposition member? The extreme version of this argument is that every politician should join the governing party (and, indeed, at least one PC blogger made that explicit after the March 3 election, calling on Liberal MLAs to cross the floor so that they could actually do something).

The fact is that most people vote for a party, not an individual. There's a reason Vancouver-Kingsway doesn't vote Conservative, even if Emerson has become a "more effective" representative.

That said, I'm fully supportive of deposing Peter Goldring...

tjk said...

Why would Goldring quit? I can't see that just out of the blue.

It is doubtful Martin would put up a strong federal fight in East. As he proved in his run in Beverly-Clareview, he's no big dog.

I must admit, I'm a little confused by this take Dave...we need more seats in BC...not less. Care to elaborate on how this makes sense from a politically strategic POV? We've already got too many people waiting in the wings to be in cabinet from Alberta.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Emerson would be a better fit in Edmonton - Mill Woods/Beaumont.

Mike Lake, the current MP there, has shown absolutely no ability to break into Harper's inner circle. Lake wasn't even made a parliamentary secretary or put on many committees. He is so far in the backbenches that at times he sits in the sliver of Tory seats on the opposition's side.

Perhaps Stephen Harper can ask Mike Lake to surrender the nomination to David Emerson? After having years of effective representation by another non-partisan floor crosser, that being Mr. David Kilgour, I think the people of Mill Woods and Beaumont would like a return to a strong MP with real clout inside the federal government.

tory tory said...

Goldring should go. Emerson would be a great pick.

Anonymous said...

It is more likely that David Emerson will run in a closer district like Vancouver Quadra. Emerson would likely easily defeat Liberal MP Joyce Murray. Quadra is a traditionally Liberal voting district but Dion's Liberals are on a downturn.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that Goldring is absent from the picture of Edmonton MPs in the Conservative ad in this year's fringe program.

It would be great to see Goldring walk, no matter how its done.