Jay Hill, the government's House Leader and one of the original Reformers, has announced he will not seek re-election. He was quickly replaced by John Baird.
The current ruling party may have grown out of the original Reform caucus of 51 MPs who were elected in 1993. But today there are just 11 of those members still sitting in the House of Commons, and one of them, Keith Martin, is now a Liberal.
The original Reform gang had some wacky ideas (like canning prisoners or outlawing deficits). And they were certainly naive. But they brought a refreshing attitude to a very cynical city in their demands for transparency and respect for the taxpayer's dollar.
For the most part, they were well liked on all sides of the House and by the media. Hill's departure as a congenial House Leader is a reminder of how things have changed.
Another reminder is the performance of couple of government ministers in the past week.
Industry Minister Tony Clement demonstrated very nicely what members of cabinet do when they are in serious trouble -- he made personal attacks against citizens who disagree with him.
He said the wide range of groups opposing the end of the long-form census were doing so out of self interest because they have been getting market research data at the taxpayers' expense. "They had a good deal going," he said, with the clear implication his critics are a bunch of freeloaders with their noses in the public trough.
Never mind that the Constitution makes it clear it is Ottawa's job-- and no one else's-- to conduct the national census, or, that only a public impartial agency could ever be entrusted to collect personal information from the public.
Then Treasury Board President Stockwell Day argued Canada needs to spend $9 billion on an expanded prison system despite a falling crime rate. Apparently, this is because of the rising rate of unreported crime.
So how did he know this? If the crimes are unreported, where do you the statistics?
To bail out the minister, the government produced a six-year-old study from Statistics Canada that said 34 per cent of crimes go unreported to police. What the government didn't mention was that the study dealt with penny-ante crimes that likely wouldn't be investigated by police. Things like car break-ins or graffiti vandalism.
The original Reform gang used to howl in derision when ministers tried to stretch things. Many of the original Reformers must be in despair at what has happened to their party.
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