Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Is There a Third Liberal Camp?

I've got a question for some of the Liberal Party readers out there, and I'm just going to re-type my title to show some emphasis for it.

Is there a third Liberal camp?

There's always talk in the Liberal camps about Chretienites versus Martinites, but is there another camp led by Pickering-Scarborough East MP, Dan McTeague? In the last little while, Mr. McTeague has garnered quite a bit of exposure for an MP who has been a backbencher for quite some time.

Or, did Mr. McTeague just get more exposure or become more prominent because of the minority government?

The reason I ask (and why I've thought about it):

  • He seemed to be the de facto leader of the anti-same sex marriage crowd in the Liberal Party caucus. In the hours and minutes leading up to the vote on C-38, it was Mr. McTeague defending the anti-SSM Liberals for not defeating the budget and thereby allowing C-38 to pass. At least, that was the appearance on CPAC.
  • He has openly called for hip-hop artist 50 Cent to be prohibited from performing in Toronto apparently not in line with official Liberal caucus wishes. I say "not in line" because there's no push from cabinet to ban 50 Cent. There has, as far as I'm aware, been no rebuke from within the Liberal Party for this public stand.
  • According to How'd They Vote, Dan McTeague holds the record for the most dissentions - 25 - in the 38th Parliament (tied with fellow Liberal MPs, Alan Tonks and Paul Steckle), meaning he has voted 25 times against the Liberal Party line of thinking.
  • He was the one to report that Canadians had been kidnapped in Iraq, presumably in his role as "Parliamentary Secretary for Canadians Abroad", but Canadians being kidnapped in Iraq is significant news - especially when there is no Canadian embassy, so there are negotiations required with the U.K. and the U.S.

Now, does Mr. McTeague wield significant clout within caucus? In the first three points, it seems that he doesn't flow with "general" Liberal strategy and frequently strays off message, but in the last, owning the issue of Canadians kidnapped in Iraq where no official Canadian embassy exists is a significant project.

Personally, I suspect he's garnering more exposure for himself because of the minority parliament situation - he can pretty much do what he wants and the top brass can do little to stop him, but I'm just curious to see what others think. If there is no "sub-camp", is McTeague a Martinite or a Chretienite? Or, none of the above?

I would also suspect that he's been largely the same personality for the years he's been an elected Liberal MP (since October 1993), so wouldn't he have been turfed before this? Or, is he valued because he's a proven commodity as a Liberal candidate.

I'm curious as to your thoughts.

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Lord Kitchener's Own said...

From what I understand, McTeague is a showboat and attention seeker, and we just see him more these days because it's a minority parliament and the talent pool in ALL the parties is pretty thin.

The political panel on Studio 2 here in Ontario (TVO) were talking about his drive to ban 50 Cent, and none of them really wanted to talk about it, because it was all so silly. The consensus seemed to be "it's Dan McTeague, what do you expect?"

John Ibbittson basically said (I'm paraphrasing, but it's pretty close to verbatim): There's no backbencher who deserves to be in the backbenches more than Dan McTeague.

So I don't know if that answers your question, but from everything I hear, if McTeague is leading some kind of third "faction" who the Hell is following him?

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

Nope, you addressed my question - the consensus, as you understand it, is he's a bit of a maverick, and it's well known. Maybe a bit of a kook, too. :)

But, then the question would then be, if he's a maverick, why is he still a candidate for the Liberals? Likely the proven commodity thing.

If I had to speculate on a "third faction", if you look at the list of voting dissentions, of the top 30, 27 are Liberal backbenchers. Perhaps this faction are all the backbenchers that have never had a chance to be in Cabinet? United by the fact that they get overlooked by "star" cabinet choices.

Jason Cherniak said...

I don't think he leads any third camp. However, he does represent a certain type of Liberal MP that does not get a lot of coverage.

McTeague is an Ontario suburbanite who is not quite urban enough to accept SSM, yet not quite rural enough to support farming subsidies. Essentially, he is in a class with people like Derek Lee, Bryon Wilfert and Tom Wappel. They are what you might call products of old Ontario learning to adapt to the new Canada. Some like Wilfert have done very well and others like Wappel have had a lot of trouble.

The basic idea, though, is that they are common sense people who represent early baby-boom suburbanites. They are the ones who keep the Liberals at 60% in York Region on election day.

Ace said...

Can you say Tom Wappel?

David Simpson said...

I've been speculating that the Elders of the Liberal party are alreadsy looking ahead to the next leadership race. While I don't think McTeague is a viable contender, he could be the token Ontario maverick who gets dropped after the first round of voting.
Or, he figures the scandal stink will stick and wants to be able to point to his record and say he dissented.
Of course most of the dissenters are back-benchers, Don't you have to surrender your spine to get a cabinet post?