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July 11, 2005
Cadman's Death Presents Liberal Conundrum

The death of independent MP Chuck Cadman from long battle against cancer creates a difficult situation for the ruling Liberal minority. Cadman had provided the edge as one of three independents to back the government during the recent confidence motions that threatened to end Prime Minister Paul Martin's term at the helm of the Canadian executive. Without his vote, it could mean that the Liberals might not survive another such motion, but replacing him could make matters even worse:

The death of independent MP Chuck Cadman leaves a big hole in the political landscape and all indications are it is not one the Liberals will be in a rush to fill.

The vacancy, however, puts the minority government in a dilemma. Should it quickly call a by-election in Surrey North in an attempt to add a crucial seat by taking advantage of Conservative Party disarray in British Columbia?

Or should the government avoid the risk of a devastating loss in the Vancouver-area riding where the Liberals have been historically weak, and wait for the next general election?

Despite electing Cadman as its representative, the Surrey riding favors Conservatives more than Liberals, and a special election in that district would probably send a Tory to replace Cadman. That would amplify the problem created by Cadman's death, resulting in what would be a two-vote swing. The only other option would be to force the seat to remain open until the next general election, which would still give the Grits one less vote on which to depend. In May, that would have caused new general elections by now.

One issue missing from the Globe & Mail's calculations, and apparently the Liberals' as well, is the fact that allowing the seat to remain unfilled means that Surrey will have no representation in Parliament for up to six months. Doesn't that matter to anyone in Canada? The political machinations appear to take precendence over the right of Surrey voters to have their voice heard in the Commons, at least for the G&M and for the Liberals as well.

Shinder Purewall, an expert with "strong Liberal connections", claims that it would be "unseemly" to rush a by-election after the death of a legend like Cadman. I would say that forcing an entire riding to lose its participation in federal politics in order to artificially maintain the minority government of a party that Cadman only briefly supported would be even more unseemly, and certainly undemocratic. Using Cadman's death and legend to disenfranchise Surrey goes beyond that to sheer exploitation and ghoulishness.

Surrey should demand an election to fill its open seat, and Canadians of all political stripes should support them. If the Liberals want to claim to represent the will of the people, it should take care that all of the people have their legitimate representation in the Commons.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 11, 2005 11:55 AM

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» More on Cadman's death from Black Sheep Press
I'm not entirely sure that Cadman was a 'legend', also, from what I've heard recently from people I know who are somewhat connected with the riding, the Tories managed to alienate much of the riding with the Cadman debacle, and it was more of a Refor... [Read More]

Tracked on July 12, 2005 1:30 AM

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