Pubdate: Fri, 26 Apr 2002
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Shannon Moneo


The Member of Parliament who dared to hoist above his head the 
five-foot, gold-encrusted mace and then turn to the Liberal front 
bench and declare that we no longer live in a democracy, is faced 
with a not-so-liberal penalty.

On Monday, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Dr. Keith Martin was hit with a 
motion asking him to apologize at the bar (a location in the House) 
to Speaker Peter Milliken.

The apology was requested because of last Wednesday's incident when 
Martin picked up the mace which sits on the clerks' table right in 
front of the Speaker's chair. The object is a symbol of democracy and 
MPs are forbidden to even touch it.

His fellow Alliance members followed him out of the House after the 
somewhat calculated outburst, with two NDP members in tow (Svend 
Robinson and Libby Davies).

Martin apologized on the same day which is what he told the Speaker 
on April 22 when the issue arose in the House. Milliken accepted the 
amending information but Martin expects the amendment will be 
rejected by the Liberal majority.

Martin expects he will have to stand in front of the Speaker and 
apologize in front of a packed House.

"The Speaker has the chance to berate me publically," Martin said 
April 22. "It's public humiliation."

What led to Martin's tactile turnabout was his outrage over the very 
sly move made by the Liberals to have his private member's bill 
denied second reading.

The Liberal's amendment, characterized by Martin as a "poison pill," 
meant his bill which would have decriminalized simple possession of 
marijuana, died on the House floor by a 109-88 vote.

"They threw a stake through the heart of private member's bills. It 
was a sham vote on the bill."

Martin said he knowingly touched the symbol to allow exposure of the 
Liberal's dictatorship. He said Liberal MPs have become voting 
machines, led by orders barked out of Prime Minister Jean Chretien's 

The incident became Martin's chance to demonstrate that despite 150 
hours of debate on private member business at a cost of $45 million, 
the ability for all MPs to vote as they wish doesn't exist.

So far in this session of the House 239 private member's bills have 
been introduced. The three that passed were all from the Senate, 
Martin said. Even though his decriminalization bill was supported by 
a majority of the MPs and by 70 per cent of Canadians, Martin said 
because it wasn't brought forward by a Liberal, it just wasn't 
passable. Having to toe the party line makes it very untenable and 
uncomfortable for the Liberal MPs who wish to vote independently, he 

"If my bill dealt with April 2 being Disabled Pet Day it may have 
passed," he quipped.

In addition to the apology, Martin said he could have been suspended, 
lost his MP job or been faced with financial penalties.

The mace was last touched by NDP member Ian Waddell in 1991.
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MAP posted-by: Josh