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.MP Bruce Hyer quits NDP to sit as independent
Published On Mon Apr 23 2012
Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau chief
OTTAWA—Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer has quit the New Democrats to sit as an independent, criticizing the “mindless solidarity” of Canada’s political parties and urging leader Thomas Mulcair to be more accepting of dissent in the ranks.
Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North) had locked horns with his party over its support for the long-gun registry and on Monday he quit caucus altogether, saying he no longer wanted to be restrained by “undue party discipline.”
But in a news release announcing his departure, he also expressed disappointment at not being named to the NDP’s shadow cabinet that was announced last week, saying his exclusion meant that his constituents “will be muzzled.”
But Mulcair said he had little choice but to exclude Hyer from the shadow cabinet if the MP wasn’t willing to be bound by caucus decisions.
“He doesn’t believe that he has to follow party line,” Mulcair told reporters.
“It’s quite obvious why you can’t name someone to the shadow cabinet when they’re telling you upfront that they’re not going to follow the decisions of their colleagues.”
Hyer said he intends to remain a card-carrying member of the NDP and expects to side with the party in about 95 per cent of the votes.
“But I’m not going to vote with them 100 per cent of the time and that’s why I’m leaving,” Hyer said in an interview.
He left caucus with a jab at Mulcair, crowned as the party’s leader just last month.
“I think Tom Mulcair will be a good prime minister,” Hyer said.
“But I think he’ll be an even better prime minister if somewhere along the way he learns to accept a little dissension in the ranks and a little flexibility with MPs to stand up for what’s important to them personally or to their constituents,’ he said.
“He’s got a big backbone, he’s got a big brain and a big ego and he’s a strong man and a decisive man. And that’s good up to a point,” Hyer said.
The Thunder Bay MP, first elected in 2008, also had harsh words for the Commons, calling Parliament “dysfunctional” and saying he may not even attend daily question period any more.
“I am truly embarrassed to sit there . . . The heckling and catcalling is just beyond belief.”
NDP MP John Rafferty, who also opposed the NDP’s support for the long-gun registry, called Hyer’s decision to quit the party a “tremendous mistake.”
“I’m sorry to see that Bruce felt he could sit as an independent rather than work within the party system,” said Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River).
Hyer is the second MP to quit the NDP this year. Lise St-Denis crossed the floor to sit with the Liberals in January.
He joins Edmonton MP Peter Goldring as Parliament’s two independent MPs. Goldring left the Conservative caucus in December after he was charged with refusing to take a breathalyzer test.