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Conservative MPs Muzzled by Prime Minister

From September 19, 2008

Canadian democracy, we understand, relies on the free exchange of ideas. The freedom of speech; the freedom of the press; the freedom of political expression. It seems then ironic that, as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has essentially stripped those freedoms from his own ministers and cabinet. But Harper's continuing obsession with message control is awfully telling.

Whenever a potentially contentious issue climbs over the horizon, Harper's staff are out in force, warning Conservative MPs to keep quiet or be punished.

Whether the issue is global warming, guns and gun crime, or the marriage of two RCMP (gay) officers - the warning is the same. It seems clear that, in Harper's government, there always must be an MP just waiting to make an idiotic gaffe, and only the threat of punishment is enough to awaken instincts of self-preservation.

Threats weren't enough to silence Conservative MP Garth Turner who rightly questioned the defection of MP David Emerson from the Liberals. But before long Turner was kicked from the party.

So, the message is very clear. But one must ask: why elect a group of MPs who constantly need a reminder to not say something stupid? And why elect a prime minister who is so paranoid and obsessed with control that he won't allow an MP to speak his mind?