Thursday, February 16, 2006

Statement from the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

Below is the text in its entirety from Paul Martin re the Emerson fiasco. The key point that Martin makes below is that PM Stephen Harper has remained silent and very aloof on the whole topic to date. Considering that Harper engineered the defection, this is despicable. Integrity should demand his coming forward immediately and under detailed public scrutiny and questioning provide his justification. This has not happened to date. At minimum former PM Paul Martin took all the heat dead on not matter by whom or when and was available for intense questioning and grilling by the public and the media. This leads us to believe that PM Harper simply hopes that the issue will fade away. It will not.

Official email forwarded from Liberal Party HQ;

Statement from the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin

From Europe, former Prime Minister Paul Martin today issued the following statement in response to enquiries related to comments by David Emerson in media reports on February 14th:

"On February 6, after David Emerson became the Minister of International Trade in Stephen Harper's government, he announced that he would be making contact with me to explain the principle that led him to his decision to cross the floor. To date I have not received his explanation, nor have I heard from Mr. Emerson at all.

When I learned that he had been recruited to sit as a Conservative cabinet minister only days after his election as a Liberal, I was astonished. As we have seen, members do switch political parties when they feel their values are no longer welcome in the party they ran in. My government was the beneficiary of that phenomenon on a couple of high-profile occasions. But this situation is without precedent. First, Mr. Harper engineered this switch after having criticized floor crossing heavily in the past.

Second, Mr. Emerson had campaigned only days earlier against the Conservatives – using language that can only be described as categorical in its condemnation of Mr. Harper and his positions. Now as a member of Mr. Harper's government, he will not only be required to defend the policies of his department – but all the policies of a government which he has attacked in an unequivocal way as being contrary to his own principles.

I am also troubled by the unwillingness of Mr. Harper and Mr. Emerson to confront the legitimate questions that Canadians have about this matter.

In both the case of Mr. Brison and Ms. Stronach for example, both they and I felt it was important to immediately face Canadians and the national media to defend the decisions taken and to take accountability for our actions.

As the person who recruited Mr. Emerson to public life, and given the lack of any articulated principle behind his decision, I certainly share the disappointment of so many Canadians in both Mr. Harper and Mr. Emerson. To date, neither has been willing to subject themselves to an appropriate level of scrutiny on this matter – a decision that I believe robs Canadians and the people of Vancouver Kingsway of a deserved explanation. In particular, it is to those voters that a greater measure of respect is owed."
For more information: Melanie Gruer, (613) 290-7679 or Susan Smith, (613) 371-0624

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