As Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Joe Comuzzi sells what's left of his soul to Stephen Harper, he should consider the fate of Liberal-turned-Tory Senator Anne Cools. Cools joined the Tories after a career as a Liberal because Cools just hates gays so much. Despite representing pro-gay Toronto in the Senate, Cools made it her mission fighting against equality for gays and lesbians in Canada. She couldn't stomach the fact that most Liberals disagreed with her bigotry and promptly joined the Harper-crite homophobes during the 2004 federal election campaign. Her switch was touted at the time by Harper as a sign of growing Conservative support. Of course, in the end it had little impact as the Martin Liberals still won the June 2004 election.
Cools always struck me as kind of batty. I welcomed her departure from the Liberals. Now it's funny to see her turfed even from her new Tory home. Maybe it's time to quit altogether, eh Anne?
But back to Comuzzi, whose switch to the Tories has just been confirmed by CBC News (no link yet.) I met Joe very briefly when I used to work for his provincial counterpart, Michael Gravelle, at Queen's Park from 1999 to 2001. Unlike slacker Joe, Gravelle is a workhorse who is well-loved by his constituents and continues to win overwhelming victories in the riding. Gravelle won 73% of the vote in Thunder Bay-Superior North in 2003, the highest percentage by any Liberal in the province.
Contrast that with Comuzzi's bare wins in recent elections: he stumbled past a less-than-stellar New Democrat in 2006 by only 400 votes, winning only 36%. The Harper-crite candidate ran way back with only 22% of the vote. Such a slim victory over the pro-gay NDP followed of course Comuzzi's then-recent decision to quit the Martin cabinet out of "principle". Apparently, Comuzzi's staunch belief that gays and lesbians were second-class citizens and deserved to be barred from marriage was more important than staying a bit player in cabinet.
I'm not sure what Paul Martin ever saw in Mr. Comuzzi in order to make him cabinet material. It certainly couldn't have been his work ethic. I have vivid memories from my time in Gravelle's provincial office of issues exploding on the Thunder Bay front, and backbencher Comuzzi would frequently be out of the country on one of his regular southern vacations. His perpetual tan continues, as far as I can tell.
Comuzzi's personal hold on the riding has been anything but strong. It can be argued that the only reason he ever got elected was that he was on the Liberal ticket. The riding has been on the Liberal-NDP axis for several decades.
I hear Comuzzi won't be running again in the next election, even as a Tory. That's probably smart as he'd have even less of a chance of being re-elected as a Tory than say turncoat David Emerson. Perhaps this switch today will pave the way for Comuzzi to be appointed to Harper's cabinet later this year.
Good riddance, Joe. Perhaps we should thank Harper for cleaning out all the junk from our caucus like Comuzzi, Cools and Wajid Khan.