Casey at the bat: three swings and out
Harper Conservatives can't say they weren't warned in vote against Budget by well-liked Nova Scotia MP.
By Stephen Kimber
Federal Tories couldn't have been surprised when Bill Casey stood in the House of Commons on principle — and against his party — in last week's budget vote.
In truth, the veteran Cumberland-Colchester- Musquodoboit Valley MP has been out of step with Stephen Harper (and in touch with his own constituents) from the day the former Reformer was sworn in as prime minister.
That grand occasion also marked the first day Casey publicly questioned the PM's wisdom — for welcoming yesterday's Liberal, David Emerson, into his cabinet.
In February, Casey was deep in the doo-doo again after he criticized Harper for currying favour with Quebec voters by handing out aerospace contracts to firms in that province when companies in his own riding didn't get a whiff of the lucrative work.
All of this, of course, has always played much better in Casey's home riding — where he's been re-elected in four straight elections — than it does inside the Conservative caucus in Ottawa where leader loyalty is the sine qua non of promotion. Which is why he isn't in the caucus anymore.
"Our association to a person is supporting Bill," local riding president Scott Armstrong told the Amherst Daily News.
"He's been a wonderful MP for our riding and we support him."
Others in the riding agree — at least if you believe reader responses on the Amherst paper's website.
"The Tories don't realize what they have lost," wrote Shawna Richardson.
"I know that (I and) a lot of others voted for Bill, and not necessarily the party... Whatever party is in power makes no difference to me. But who represents my interests in Ottawa is very important and, therefore, as long as he is in politics... Bill will always have my vote."
"Mr Casey remembers where he comes from and, more importantly, who put him in Ottawa," explained Jennifer Boyce from Pictou. "It wasn't Stephen Harper."
Although he insists he's made no decisions about his long-term political future, Casey mused last week that "even I was surprised that I didn't mind sitting as an independent."
All of which raises an interesting question. How will Harper ever win his elusive majority if he keeps alienating his own supporters?
The answer. He won't.
Stephen Kimber is the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of King's College. This article was originally published in The Daily News, Halifax, June 11
Links and sources
Stephen Kimber, Casey at the bat: three swings and out, The Daily News, June 10, 2007
Casey's budget vote a surprise, MacKay says, CBC News, June 7, 2007
Posted: June 11, 2007
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