Back in April, I went for lunch with Brent Rathgeber, the now-independent MP.
I had to get the story out that day, so I wasn’t able to include all of his comments.
We spoke for more than an hour, over burgers at nearby Parliament Hill pub The 3 Brewers.
At the time, the MP for Edmonton-St. Albert seemed content to play the role of an outspoken backbencher, confident and speaking his mind.
And he did, talking openly about the control of the Prime Minister’s Office, particularly with young staffers who tried to change his blogs.
Here are some highlights from our conversation, quotes that I wasn’t able to include in my original story.
Some, in hindsight, are quite telling.
Rathgeber quit Conservative caucus Wednesday night.
– “I don’t speak on behalf of the government. I support the government, I have never voted against the government but I don’t speak on behalf of the government because I don’t sit at that table where all those important decisions are made.”
– “Our rules allow us, me, to do things to represent my constituents even on matters that the government for whatever reason doesn’t consider a priority or is actually opposed to.”
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– “Thankfully I haven’t come to a file where I was unable to support a government legislation…When it comes to private members’ business, to me, that is a different set of perimeters.”
– “If I wanted to be a part of the executive, I guess I would apply for a job as a PMO staffer. It would be a lot less travel, it would be a lot less money. But I ran for Parliament.”
– “To some extent I think the role that Parliamentarians do is undervalued, and the role that ministers do is seen as being the only logical outcome of a successful career in this town. And I dispute that premise.”
– “Parliament’s role is to hold the government to account and to be the watchdog and the steward of the public purse and to make sure that taxpayers get good value for their tax dollars.”
– “When we don’t question things like ministerial limos, or how government spends its money generally, then I think we’re neglecting our responsibilities.”
– “That’s what you sign up for when you run for Parliament. You don’t sign up for being a cabinet minister. You want to be in the executive you should probably join the civil service.”
– “It’s not a game. It’s not necessarily about winning or losing. Elections are about winning or losing. But Parliament has to have a broader and more noble purpose.”
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