This is what makes me a lousy politician. I don't know whether I even agree with his politics, but I would vote for Bill Casey. He is in fact dissenting from the Conservatives for not being Conservative enough (as I gather).
On the surface, as a liberal, I probably ought to agree that Nova Scotia should share its wealth with the other Atlantic provinces in this instance- I guess- truthfully I don't understand the situation nearly enough to expand.
What I do understand is integrity: a rarity in politics, but a quality that I hold higher possibly even than the politician's beliefs themselves.
I feel that by defying his party and standing up for his province, whether right or wrong, Bill Casey showed integrity. And we all know what happens to those with integrity in Ottawa...
Conservative MP Bill Casey was booted out of the Tory caucus hours after he broke ranks with his party on Tuesday night and voted against a bill to implement the federal budget.
The Nova Scotia MP said he couldn't support the budget because it doesn't allow his province to fully benefit from offshore oil and gas revenues without losing equalization payments from the federal government.
When Casey rose to his feet to cast his "Nay" vote, cheers and shouts erupted in the House of Commons.
The budget implementation bill, which sets the Conservative's March 19 budget into action, still passed by a margin of 158-108. It was a preliminary vote, with a third and final reading of the bill expected later this week.
Bloc Québécois MPs and all Conservatives except Casey banded together to ensure the bill passed on Tuesday. The Liberals and the NDP voted against it.
Casey, a veteran backbencher, said the government had promised Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that it wouldn't include offshore oil and gas revenues in its equalization formula.
"I believe that the government of Canada signed a contract with my province of Nova Scotia and it's not being honoured," Casey told CBC News earlier Tuesday in Ottawa.
"Whether it's by accident or not, the budget was amended, and that amendment was not agreed to by the provinces, who also signed it. So only one side of this agreement changed it and approved this amendment.
"I don't think that's right."
Casey wanted Flaherty to make changes to the budget before the third reading, but Flaherty rejected calls Tuesday in the House of Commons to do so.
The current budget offers the two provinces a choice between two options:
- A new, enriched equalization formula that includes a cap on the amount of offshore oil and gas revenues the provinces can keep.
- The old equalization formula, with the benefits from the Atlantic Accord on offshore oil and gas revenues that was negotiated by the former Liberal government in 2004.
Casey, who was first elected to Parliament as a Progressive Conservative, said the new budget could cost Nova Scotia up to $1 billion.
With files from the Canadian Press