I am no fan of the Liberal government or of Paul Martin. However I am a fan of this guy, Chuck Cadman. For those who don’t know, when I was 18, I ran in the provincial election against Leeds-Grenville MPP Bob Runciman in 1995. I was still in High School at the time, and ran as an Independant (no party affiliation). My whole platform was that I was going to vote based on polling the residents. Chuck Cadman did the same with the vote and I applaude that.
From the Canadian Press:
Cadman chews his gum while saving the 38th Parliament
By ALEXANDER PANETTA
OTTAWA (CP) – In a deep corner of a sweltering, sweaty chamber buzzing with nervous chatter, a lone MP leaned back calmly in his chair chewing bubblegum.
Chuck Cadman for an instant seemed to be the most popular – and powerful – man in the country with a choir to sing his praises. Clapping in unison and warbling in surprisingly good tune, the NDP caucus rose to serenade the Independent MP.
“He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole wide world.”
The old gospel anthem represented only a slight exaggeration. At 5:40 p.m., the cancer-stricken B.C. Independent MP merely held the fate of Parliament, the minority Liberal government and the immediate future of federal politics in his hands.
A succession of Conservatives clustered around Cadman’s back-row seat to greet him with a handshake or backslap.
But the man of the hour maintained the tranquility of someone who has endured infinitely greater stress.
Cadman boarded a flight to Ottawa just a week after a chemotherapy treatment for skin cancer. He entered politics in 1997 after his 16-year-old son was murdered.
He said he spent an hour napping and only decided how he would vote a half-hour before strolling through the doors of Parliament’s Centre Block.
He wore the mantle of the man who would decide the fate of the government lightly.
“I don’t worry about things like that,” he said.
“Believe me, I honestly don’t. I’ve carried a few weights in my life.”
While Cadman serenely worked over a wad of gum in the Commons, across the aisle a man with significantly more at stake in the vote took a sip from the glass of water on his desk.
Prime Minister Paul Martin chortled and exchanged jokes with the colleagues seated around his front-row chair.
He took a peek into the standing-room-only crowd in the gallery, which included some of his own closest aides.
Peering over the balcony from one corner of the gallery was David Herle.
Like hundreds of others in the room Herle – the Liberals’ campaign co-chair – would have his immediate future decided by a long-haired former rock guitarist from B.C.
The room fell silent shortly before 6 p.m. It was time for MPs to vote on C-48, an amendment bill to the federal budget.
If it collapsed Martin was to visit the Governor General the following morning, and campaign buses would be rumbling off Parliament Hill by afternoon.
Martin took another sip of water. Cadman continued chewing at a brisk pace.
The Liberals were called by name and they rose one after another in support of the budget. All parties had made sure their MPs were there by counting heads as they walked into the chamber.
Ontario Liberal Peter Adams skipped the vote to make up for Tory MP Darrel Stinson, who is undergoing cancer surgery.
Once the Liberals were all done Carolyn Parrish rose in support of her former colleagues. She was booted from caucus last year after her persistent bashing of U.S. President George W. Bush.
Seated next to her was another former Liberal, David Kilgour, and he remained seated. He had sent out a press release earlier in the afternoon outlining numerous frustrations with the Liberals.
Then it was Cadman’s turn.
At 6:02, he unfolded his lanky frame and stood for a long moment, his hands crossed over his belly as a shower of applause rained down on him from the Liberal benches.
Gleeful Liberals shredded sheets of paper and tossed them heavenward.
Grim Tories wore the long faces, slumped shoulders and blank stares of a squad that had just lost in overtime.
Cadman eased back into his chair and pumped the hand of his seatmate, the Bloc Quebecois’ Marc Boulianne.
The Liberals swarmed around newly minted Human Resources Minister Belinda Stronach before a single Conservative rose. After being plucked from the Tory bench and catapulted into cabinet, her vote kept the Liberals in power.
The Tories made a brave show of support for Stephen Harper when the Conservative leader cast the first ‘nay’ vote against the budget. But after Cadman’s action, there was no denying the futility of the Conservative opposition.
Conservative MPs bobbed up and down to register no confidence in the government, but tensions slackened instantly. MPs went back to chatting or thumbing messages into their ubiquitous blackberries.
The vote result, a deadlocked 152-152, was read out by the Commons clerk.
“Speaker! Speaker!” the Tories began chanting.
But Commons Speaker Peter Milliken’s keen sense of parliamentary history made him the last man who would have broken political convention to vote with the opposition. A few Conservatives laughed scornfully when he said his vote would be blind to partisanship.
“I don’t know why the honourable members keep doing this to me,” Milliken began balefully. He became the first Speaker to vote in a confidence showdown.
As he began explaining the logic for his vote, a crowd milling outside the Commons door began to cheer.
They could see on TV what everyone inside the sober chamber could discern even before Milliken finished speaking.
The governmenty had – by the narowest possible margin – maintained the confidence of the House of Commons.
A few Tories aimed catcalls at Martin and Stronach.
“What are you gonna do, buy another one?”
The prime minister crossed the floor to shake hands with the most powerful parliamentarian in Canada.
The one still chewing gum while Liberals tossed up papers, Tories fumed and a Speaker propped up a federal government for the first time in Canadian history.