Brent Rathgeber quits the Conservative caucus

The free-speaking MP leaves after bill amended

In the wake of a vote by Conservative MPs at the ethics committee today to amend his private member’s bill on public service disclosure, Brent Rathgeber has quit the Conservative caucus.

I just notifed the Board of Directors of the Edm-St. Albert CPC Association and the Speaker that I have resigned from the CPC Caucus.

My decision to resign from the CPC Caucus is because of the Government’s lack of commitment to transparency and open government.

Mr. Rathgeber blogged about his bill here, here, here, here and here. Earlier tonight, he tweeted in response to the vote of his colleagues tonight.

In his comments to the Globe tonight, Mr. Rathgeber pointed at his party’s leadership for the changes that were made to his bill.

“I’m obviously very, very disappointed both with the government position and certainly with the [committee’s Conservative] colleagues, many of whom philosophically support this legislation unequivocally, but seemed powerless to resist the instructions that were given to them by the [Prime Minister’s Office], by the whip or wherever the final instructions came from,” Mr. Rathgeber said after the meeting.

Update 10:44pm. Conservative MP Mark Warawa, whose motion on sex-selective abortion was prevented from reaching the floor of the House earlier this year, tweets at Mr. Rathgeber.

Brent, you are a man of integrity and will be missed.

Update 10:51pm. Via Twitter, the Prime Minister’s director of communications says Mr. Rathgeber should step down as the MP for Edmonton-St. Albert and run in a by-election.

Mr. Rathgeber has resigned from caucus. The people of Edmonton-St. Albert elected a Conservative Member of Parliament. Mr. Rathgeber should resign and run in a by-election. 

If the Harper government now feels MPs who resign from caucus should run in by-elections, it would seem to have come to this feeling sometime after David Emerson and Wajid Khan crossed the floor to the Conservative side. Last year, only three Conservative MPs supported an NDP bill that would have forced MPs to resign and run in a by-election if they wished to switch parties (which wouldn’t have applied to Mr. Rathgeber, as he has not switched parties).

Update 11:12pm. Mr. Rathgeber spoke to me for this piece on the Backbench Spring and later explained himself to Global. In February, he talked to The West Block about the role of the backbench MP. All our previous coverage of him is here.

Update 11:54pm. The Globe’s Josh Wingrove has posted a fuller transcript of what Mr. Rathgeber had to say after Conservatives on the ethics committee voted to change his bill.

I think we fought the good fight, but we’re simply dealing with a government that is not interested in transparency. And I believe it’s really short-sighted, quite frankly.

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