From the proceedings of the Bow-Wow Parliament, March 19, 2008:
MR. BUCKINGHAM: The Progressive Conservative Party has, for all my years of involvement, represented the political beliefs that I hold. When it veered too far I made my views known and worked from within to make change.
In 1987, as President of the PC Association for St. John’s East, I rose on the floor of a provincial meeting to ask then Premier Peckford if he had a business plan, some projections, anything that I could bring back to the good people of St. John’s East to justify the sinkhole that was known as Sprung Greenhouse. The Premier of the day was somewhat indignant that anyone would make such a challenge and told all assembled, not only did he not have that information but we would just have to take his word for it. My response was to rise and say: Mr. Premier, with all due respect, sir, that just is not good enough. Political suicide for a young district president perhaps, for I would have been better off to say nothing perhaps also, but the important question is: Do I have any regrets for having so long ago on that sunny day in Lewisporte having stood up for what I believe? Mr. Chairman, I have none, but I am sure that had I said nothing I would be kicking myself to this very day. So the question became: What now? Does one leave the party? That seemed to be an easy choice, but it was my choice not to leave. Rather, I resolved to make St. John’s East a stronger district, more prepared for whomever the next PC candidate was. While the PC Party of the day may not have represented the full of my political value system, it held enough, and let me assure you, Mr. Chair, the alternative held none.
In October of 2003, the federal PC Party announced its attention to emerge with the Alliance Party of Canada. I let this development digest for about two weeks and was finally forced to realize that this turn of events not only caused me a great deal of discomfort, it made me nauseous.
On September 2, 2003, I resigned from the executive of St. John’s East, stating that this merger is the death knell of the political values that the PC Party has represented and Peter MacKay is pulling the rope. This time, Mr. Chair, the party left me and I am was not going to follow it.
Mr. Chair, while I am proud and anxious to be any part of an ABC campaign for the next federal election, and I fully support anyone who is willing to jump on this bandwagon which is being so well driven by our Premier, I stand in this House to contend that I was one of the first to lead this bandwagon out of the barn.
Mr. Chair, words are words, principles are principles, and as the Prime Minister has so clearly shown, words can be twisted and changed. Principles, however, can only be abandoned. Now some people have suggested that the federal government has no principles and this is a grossly unfair statement. The federal government does have principles. Unfortunately, they are principles any parent would be ashamed to pass on to their children.
Mr. Chair, the PC Party, my party, prides itself in being open and democratic. The recent election has only served to strengthen my faith, not only in this principle, but in this party’s resolve to enact the principle. This is a party and a leader who not only talks the talk, but walks to walk and insists that the democratic process should unfold as it should.
In just a few months my faith in what I believe this party represents, my faith in how I thought a new member would be treated, and my faith in this party’s overarching desire to choose improving the lives of every resident over political expediency has been rewarded. Any resident of this Province would be greatly heartened to be in our caucus room, as I witness the commitment of our members to this Province. Every government member has a full voice and that opinion is considered and considered fully. While it is fair to say that this accepting and opening - and I know that the hon. members opposite may have a problem with this. While it is fair to say that this opening and accepting environment stems directly from a leader who insists on it being thus, I also suggest this stems more directly from a party who would expect no less from its leader.
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