You, Mr. Emerson, are no Winston Churchill
From The Galloping Beaver, we learn that Conservative MP Betty Hinton is comparing David Emerson and Winston Churchill since both happened to switch parties during their parliamentary careers (see Tory mutes don't surprise NDP MP).
"Churchill, for example, crossed the floor twice. Nobody says anything terrible about Churchill," she said, adding later that "it's politics, and people do change parties."
This isn't the first time I've seen Churchill's name brought up in connection with the Emerson fiasco, although it disappoints me to no end to see such hogwash emanating from a Conservative Member of Parliament.
Let's be clear here: David Emerson said he'd still be a Liberal if Paul Martin was running the show, and if the Liberals still formed the government. He's admitted that his defection was not on grounds of principle.
Compare that with Churchill's party switches - there were two - where principle arguably trumped common political sense.
Churchill marched from government benches to opposition over trade protectionism in 1904. Oh, hurt feelings certainly entered into the equation, but the rift between Churchill and his fellow Conservatives stemmed from his opposition to his party's tariff regime.
Understanding his switch back to the Conservatives twenty years later requires a bit more background. Churchill watched the decline of the Liberal party and the rise of Labour, and worried openly about the influence of socialism in the country. Realizing the Liberal party was a spent force, he ran as an "Independent Anti-Socialist", losing one election before winning the next as an independent "Constitutionalist" with Conservative backing. He was only then invited to join the Conservative government.
Let's leave aside the fact that the party system in the UK at that time was nowhere near as rigid as it is in today's Canada. The bottom line is that in neither case did Churchill put his own selfish interests - and believe me, he had them in spades - ahead of the wishes of his constituents as Emerson did.
Those who would justify Harper's and Emerson's mistake would do well to leave Churchill well out of it.