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Monday, February 13, 2006

Trasformismo Canadian style?

This from the Vancouver Sun:

Emerson protests continue: Calls grow for new Conservative MP to step down Fiona Anderson, with files from Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, February 13, 2006

VANCOUVER - Angry voters rallied for the third time in as many days Sunday, demanding that newly minted Conservative cabinet minister David Emerson resign rather than represent them in Ottawa.

About 100 people shouted slogans and carried placards outside Emerson's constituency office on Kingsway, calling on the former Liberal to step down and let a byelection prove he is the voters' choice.

A day earlier, close to 700 people overflowed the auditorium of Sir Charles Tupper secondary school for a rally organized by provincial NDP MLAs whose ridings overlap Emerson's Vancouver Kingsway riding.

MLA David Chudnovsky said Saturday's rally was held in response to the many calls the MLAs have been getting from frustrated federal voters upset by Emerson's defection.

Last week, Emerson surprised almost everyone by changing parties and joining Stephen Harper's Conservative cabinet as minister of international trade after being re-elected as a Liberal just two weeks earlier.

The first of the protests took place Friday, when about 30 Liberals rallied outside Emerson's constituency office.

Many of Sunday's protesters were people who voted for Emerson as a Liberal but do not support him as a Conservative.

"I would never, never vote for a Conservative," said local resident Lynn Werner at Sunday's rally. "I do not believe in their values."

Werner said she votes for whatever party she feels brings the best social values to the community and in the last election that was the Liberals.

"We care about the child-care system. We care about care for the elderly. We care about the health-care system," Werner said. "These are things we made perfectly clear when we all voted -- 82 per cent of us -- not to have Conservative representation in this area."

The Conservatives received only 18 per cent of the vote in the riding on Jan. 23, while Emerson received 43 per cent of the vote and NDP candidate Ian Waddell received 34 per cent. The riding has elected a Conservative only once in its history.

"I don't want to hear from the rest of B.C. or other Conservatives who are so certain [Emerson] is the best person for this constituency," Werner said. "The only people who can make that decision are the people in this community."

Jurgen Claude Pierre said he would "absolutely not" have voted for Emerson if he was running as a Conservative.

Lena Warrington said Emerson lied to the voters and doesn't represent them.

"We didn't vote for a Conservative in this area," Warrington said.

Kevin Chalmers volunteered on Emerson's campaign and came to Sunday's protest to "demonstrate on behalf of western democracy."

"If [Emerson] truly believes that it was a vote for him, he has an opportunity to demonstrate that and to be a man of courage and honour and to step forward and call a byelection," Chalmers said.

The NDP's Waddell believes Emerson should submit to a byelection.

"If he had any real integrity that's what he'd do," Waddell -- who attended Saturday's rally but not Sunday's -- said in a telephone interview. And while Saturday's rally was organized by the NDP, many of those who stood up to speak said they were Liberals who felt duped and angered by Emerson's move.

Diane Jones, a former Kingsway Liberal riding president, said she felt "very disrespected." She said both she and her son have voted Liberal for as long as she has lived in the riding.

Mike Magee, creator of the website, said that almost 21,000 people had signed his online petition calling for Emerson to resign.

The Vancouver Sun was unable to reach Emerson but media reports quoted the minister or his representatives as saying Emerson would not be stepping down.


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