The Edmonton Journal ran an interesting piece this weekend speculating on the potential of Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson to run in Edmonton in the next general election.
Infamous for joining Stephen Harper‘s Conservative Cabinet only days after being re-elected as a Liberal MP for Vancouver-Kingsway in 2006, Emerson is rumoured to be seeking a different seat to contest in the next election (the last time Vancouver-Kingsway elected a Conservative was in 1958). Though there was no shortage of backlash against Emerson’s crossing the floor from constituents and opposing partisans, I believe that Emerson’s lack of partisan loyalties is the point which they are missing.
It should have become pretty clear that David Emerson did not enter elected politics to join the “Liberal” or “Conservative” clubs, but to use his skills, experience, and knowledge to do the best job he could as an MP — and it is understandable that being a Cabinet Minister (be it Liberal or Conservative) would put him in a much more effective position to complete this goal. Unlike some politicians, who would cross the floor for more opportunistic reasons, it isn’t hard to see that Emerson isn’t interested in playing the game of petty partisanship.
Would Emerson be a good fit for Edmonton? Raised in Grande Prairie, Emerson earned his Bachelor and Masters in Economics from the University of Alberta, a Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University, and has served as British Columbia’s Deputy Minister of Finance, CEO of the Pacific & Western Bank of Canada, and CEO and President of the Canfor Corporation. A heavy weight who would inject as powerful amount of bench strength into Edmonton’s parliamentary delegation, Emerson could fill the high-profile political void left after Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan‘s defeat in 2006.
Which constituency would Emerson run in? With Reform-era MPs John Williams and Ken Epp retiring and the Conservatives having already nominated candidates in both Edmonton-St. Albert and Edmonton-Sherwood Park (Brent Rathgeber and Tim Uppal), and most of the remaining Conservative MPs on the younger edge of the Parliamentary age scale (under 50), the pool of available seats in Edmonton is narrow.
I’m left thinking Edmonton-East. After 11 years in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Peter Goldring is an unlikely pick for cabinet, and though I’m sure he served an extraordinary term as the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the 64-year old may have reached the height of his parliamentary career. Though Emerson would face a strong challenge from former NDP MLA Ray Martin, Edmonton could prove to be friendlier territory than Vancouver-Kingsway, should he choose to seek re-election here.
Overall, if he decided to contest the election in Edmonton-East, Emerson could represent Edmonton well in the next parliament if he decided to return to the city of his Alma mater.