When you stop to think about it it’s possible to defend David Emerson’s flip-flop on party affiliation.
Go ahead. Give it a try. As a resident of northern British Columbia you know of Mr. Emerson, and you’re certainly aware that he, not so long ago, held the reins of Canfor. By reputation you know he’s a skilled businessman with more acumen in any given digit than most have in their whole family.
You’ve also by now heard local politicians state that he’s a friend of B.C. and a friend of Prince George. Local business leaders have welcomed his appointment to the portfolios of international trade, the Gateway project and the 2010 winter Olympics. His talents and employment history would have landed him on anyone’s short list for those jobs. There are likely few questions about his ability to represent the province on the national stage and Canada on the international stage.
Up until mid week, a defence of Mr. Emerson’s actions was what you were going to see in this space. But then, on Wednesday, the man himself spoke. Apparently beleaguered by the media barrage, he seemed puzzled by all the fuss, hinted that he might not be around for the next election, and even appeared to suggest that this type of thing keeps good people out of politics.
Having made his bed, he’s finding it uncomfortable to sleep in.
The urge to defend Mr. Emerson ground to a halt.
Why shouldn’t he at least explain his actions to the Liberal riding organization that got him elected, not once but twice; address the concerns of Vancouver-Kingsway voters; pay back financial contributions that helped send him to Ottawa; and enter the fray of a by-election?
Mr. Emerson, it appears, isn’t about to do any of these things.
Many were intrigued by his 2004 decision to enter federal politics. Compared to his past jobs, the remuneration pales. And who needs the grief?
For many, a political career that began with a puzzling decision, has now turned troubling. Of course what’s yet to be seen is whether his achievements in government will ever make this episode fade from memory.