Following the NDP’s first caucus meeting last Wednesday, MP Nathan Cullen has been appointed to chair the Ethics Committee.
“I’m thrilled with the role, I think it suits me well,” Cullen said. “It’s a combination of diplomacy and the need to keep government to account in setting a clear agenda so Canadians can know that the government isn’t straying too far off the ethical path.”
In the last parliament, straying off the ethical path was something that was done too often, so he’s going to be paying close attention, he said.
As the official opposition, the largest in three decades, in fact, he was pleased with the new makeup of their party. Four-and-a-half million Canadians voted for the NDP in this election, an historical high that was just wonderful to see, Cullen said.
Now it will be their job to hold the Conservative majority accountable for their actions and to make sure they’re decisions that work for Canadians on a whole, not just conservatives, he said.
Their first move in appointing failed candidates to the Senate was “a slap in the face for Canadians,” Cullen said.
“Unfortunately Mr. Harper made this his first priority, which is sad but we’ll move on to get some accountability from this government,” Cullen said.
If Harper and his Conservatives are smart, Cullen said, they’ll try to move to the centre of the political spectrum so as not to paint themselves into a corner.
What direction they’ll end up going with the new government will be revealed in the coming weeks, particularly with the budget. That, and legislation moves in the next five weeks, will set the tone for this government, Cullen said.
The near total collapse of the Liberals was a surprise, he remarked.
“I honestly didn’t think they would fall so far,” Cullen said. “They’re trying to figure out the way out of the basement they’ve put themselves in.”
He isn’t sure how they’re going to pull themselves out, or the Bloc Quebecois for that matter, who were left with only four seats after the election. The NDP, who until now held one seat in Quebec, now hold 58.
“I feel quite proud that it was the NDP that put them [the Bloc] in that spot,” Cullen said. “I feel that we as Canadians that however we wake up in the morning whatever our political affiliations should celebrate that the Bloc were almost wiped out.”