When your member of Parliament goes AWOL

Our Votes Count debate
Ed Holder’s seat sits empty at a London West candidates debate on April 26, sponsored by Our Votes Count.

When London insurance broker Ed Holder decided to run under the Conservative banner my riding, London West, in 2008, I was thrilled. I happen to be a big believer in the importance of integrity in local candidates, no matter their political stripe. Elect 308 scrupulous, principled and sincere candidates to the House of Commons and the rest, I figure, will take care of itself. It’s why, three years ago, I saw Glen Pearson, a Liberal in London-North-Centre, and Irene Mathyssen, a New Democrat in London-Fanshawe, as worthy contenders in their respective ridings.

I was especially delighted about Holder’s decision to run because I’d come to know him through my role as editor at The London Free Press. As chair of the newspaper’s editorial board, I kept a slot open for a community member, who would serve for one year. At one point, Holder was one of these.

I invited him to the post largely on the strength of his community involvement and leadership. He was regularly in the news, for all the right reasons — supporting important social causes, raising money to preserve a community tradition that was about to go extinct, and giving of his time in the service of local charities. I was pleased when he accepted and grateful for his sage advice.

What I remember most about his contributions to our meetings was his incisive mind and ability to probe, with business-like detachment, whatever happened to be the issue of the day. He was a stickler for precision, fairness and transparency. He insisted that politicians, chief executives and charities face scrutiny and be held accountable. He believed strongly in the importance of benchmarks and good, defensible standards by which to measure performance.

When voting day arrived in 2008, I was more sure of my vote than I’d ever been. His victory over longtime Liberal MP Sue Barnes, for whom I’d also voted more than once, seemed timely and deserved.

During the last Parliament, I called on Holder’s office for assistance on one occasion. I was serving as chairperson of charitable organization and was perplexed by some new rules being imposed by Ottawa. Within hours, Holder called personally to set me straight on a simple misunderstanding, brought about by a vacancy in our CEO’s office. Holder’s businesslike approach to the problem was exactly what I had expected of him.

Because he’d been such an proponent of accountability and openness, I looked forward to seeing him at candidates debates in my riding in the current campaign. I have been profoundly disappointed by his absences at many of them, including the one debate held specifically in London West riding for London West voters this week. Yes, he has participated in some meetings, such as the Rogers-sponsored debate that would be televised repeatedly through the campaign (best not to avoid that one). And he has appeared at debates in local high schools, where exposure to voting constituents with hard questions is minimal. He has not responded to my question about whether his absences are the result of a personal decision or party war room diktat.

I suspect it’s the latter. If so, London West’s MP must be chafing under the order. This is entirely unlike the Ed Holder I have come to know — the one who held up accountability in public life as an imperative. Absent other explanations, I resent the fact that the long arm of a control-obsessed prime minister appears to have absconded with my member of Parliament. He is absent without leave at precisely the moment — and I think he, in his heart of hearts, would personally agree — that he ought to be living out the notions he once so strongly advocated.

UWO debate posterUpdate: According to CBC.ca, Holder has also declined to attend the all-candidates meeting this evening at the University of Western Ontario, moderated by Huron University College political science professor Paul Nesbitt-Larking and sponsored by UWO’s Faculty Association, the Graduate Teaching Assistants Union and the University Students’ Council.

Update II: Indeed, Holder was a no-show at the UWO debate.

Update III (May 2): Holder was re-elected handily on election night, by a margin of nearly 9,000 votes over his nearest challenger, the NDP’s Peter Ferguson. Congratulations to Mr. Holder. Here’s hoping he finds effective and personal ways to stay in touch with his constituents.

2 Replies to “When your member of Parliament goes AWOL”

  1. London West All-Candidates – An Email Debate

    All of the Candidates for London West were emailed with regard to issues being faced by a Permanently Disabled Canadian. Many of these issues also affect other Disabled Canadians.

    This individual has been left permanently disabled as a result of the criminal activities of others, including his former bosses and their clients, along with offices of the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario. To date, the federal and provincial governments have allowed the criminals to go free, despite documented evidence, some even provided by them, proving that they have lied, filed false documents, and broken numerous laws.

    If this is not already bad enough, this individual, along with other Disabled Canadians, is being punished for being disabled and subjected to abject poverty by the federal government due to the pathetic level of support from the Canada Pension Plan – Disability. The staff at CPP-D is well aware of the lacking support and non-status of the Disabled in Canada. Several years they told this Disabled Canadian it is your bad luck to be Disabled in Canada and that you would be better off being Disabled in another country like Germany where you would get a minimum of $1,500 per month. The CPP-D staff also stated that they are not able to change anything as the rules they follow are set by the government, so you must go to your MP and get them to promote the change to the policies regarding the treatment of the Disabled. To date, not one MP, of the numerous contacted, has addressed these issues and they claim it is someone else’s responsibility to deal with it. The ignorant, arrogant, and abusive conduct of some of these folks is profoundly obscene. Take former London West MP Ms. Sue Barnes (Liberal Party), for example, during the last election she refused to help and told this Disabled Canadian in a most nasty manner to – get a job, and after learning that CPP-D has stated this Disabled Canadian will never work again Ms. Sue Barnes snapped – then get a lawyer.

    I have been reminded of the age old saying that actions speak louder than words, so let us look at the actions of the current Candidates for London West:

    Mr. Brad Corbett of the Green Party has been taking action in this matter. He was the first to respond to the email and despite being in the midst of the election campaign asked for a personal sit down meeting to discuss the issues being faced by this Disabled Canadian. Further, Mr. Brad Corbett has been trying to find avenues of assistance for this Disabled Canadian. It is clear from this that if you have issues of concern, Mr. Brad Corbett is going to listen and try to find means of resolving things and not ignore you. Mr. Brad Corbett has been following this situation and asking for updates.

    Mr. Peter Ferguson of the NDP also responded and has been taking action by providing information. Mr. Peter Ferguson also expressed his interest in a personal meeting at this Disabled Canadian’s home to discuss matters, despite being in the middle of the election campaign. It is clear that Mr. Peter Ferguson also takes matters seriously, will try to find solutions to the problems, and is not going to ignore you. Mr. Peter Ferguson is also following this situation and asking for updates.

    Here for Canada – it is the latest catch phrase of the Conservatives, like Mr. Ed Holder, but is this really true? As noted earlier, actions speak louder than words and based upon his actions I must say that the answer is no, Mr. Ed Holder is not here for Canada. Further he is not here for Ontario, London, London West or You and Me for that matter.

    I would expect that if Mr. Ed Holder was serious about being here for Canada, let alone the folks of London West then he would respond to all matters put before him. However, this is not the case, as Mr. Ed Holder and his manager did not respond to the email.

    This comes as no surprise, during the last election Mr. Ed Holder promised this permanently Disabled Canadian a personal sit down meeting, if elected. Of course, after being elected Mr. Ed Holder broke his promise, claiming that he was too busy. Mr. Ed Holder then refused to provide this Disabled Canadian any assistance after the questionable activities of some of his staff was rightly termed to be BS. Rather than dismiss the statements and lash out at the messengers, Mr. Ed Holder should have investigated matters fully and completely and addressed the legitimate concerns of one of his Constituents.

    Further, if Mr. Ed Holder was here for us then he would be attending all of the All-Candidate debates, regardless of whether they are single topic debates or not. Mr. Ed Holder’s refusal to attend these debates shows that he does not care about You and Me and the issues that are important to us like Health Care and Education.

    If Mr. Ed Holder ignores these and other important issues while trying to get re-elected, he will certainly ignore them and anything else if he is re-elected. In short, it is clear that Mr. Ed Holder does not care about You and Me, if he did then he would show us the proper respect by responding to all contact and attending all of the debates and learn about what is important to us and how he can best serve our needs if re-elected.

    It has been put forth that perhaps Mr. Ed Holder is being held back by his party leaders and not allowed to attend the public debates or respond to direct contact for that matter.
    However, if Mr. Ed Holder was really here for Canada, for London West, and for Us, then he would not blindly push the party agenda and show some back bone by standing up for himself and Us rather than bow down and kiss the feet of his party elite.

    The Liberal Candidate Doug Ferguson was also contacted by email and he also has not responded to date.

    Mr. Mudd

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