The House of Commons got a small taste of Tea Party politics Monday, as Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber channeled the American small-government movement to push for more cost-cutting in Ottawa.
The former Edmonton lawyer and Alberta MLA caught the media's attention Monday morning with a post on Twitter stating that he would be delivering his "Tea Party" speech at noon.
"Perhaps that was slightly overly-dramatic," Mr. Rathgeber later said in an interview. "But the Tea Party movement in the States advocates for less government, more individual accountability, lower taxes and reductions in government spending and I think I hit all of those themes."
The speech itself was fairly tame, straying ever-so-slightly from the party line by warning of economic danger should the federal government fail to trim costs. But Mr. Rathgeber said he sees a role for Conservative MPs to push the cabinet - also known as the executive - to move more aggressively on the cost-cutting front.
Speaking later, Mr. Rathgeber noted the political dynamics of this Parliament are much different than the Parliament prime minister Jean Chrétien and finance minister Paul Martin faced in the mid-1990s, the last time Ottawa made a serious attempt to cut costs.
Then, the main opposition party was the Preston Manning-led Reform Party, which was urging the Liberals to cut more aggressively.
"Now this Parliament of course, there are two official opposition parties [the NDP and the Liberals]and two unofficial opposition parties [the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party] but all of them are to the immediate left or to the considerable left of the government," he said.
"So to provide some sort of balance to the debate, because the executive, they have their obligations and there are demands for the federal government to spend money in many, many areas, so to bring balance to the debate, yes I think there is a role for the private member to remind the government that taxpayers are increasingly, in my view, demanding fiscal responsibility."
The full text of Mr. Rathgeber's speech follows:
As I rise to speak formally in the House for the first time since my re-election, I would like to thank the constituents of Edmonton-St. Albert for once again placing their trust in me and returning me to this honourable chamber. I look forward to serving them in my capacity of their member of Parliament.
Many thanks also go to my campaign team and hundreds of volunteers for their hundreds and hundreds of hours of hard work. Special thanks to my family and friends who continued to support me in my role as a member of Parliament.
Our government has clearly demonstrated that our economic action plan is working. If anyone needs proof of this, just last week Statistics Canada announced over 22,000 new net jobs were created in the month of May, bringing the total number of net new jobs to 560,000 since July 2009. The jobless rate is at 7.4%, the lowest it has been in more than two years. This also marks the seventh straight quarter of economic growth.
A recent forecast predicted Canada's economy will grow by 3.2% in 2011, and a further 3.1% in 2012. The future for Canada is bright and the steady job growth rate demonstrates our government is clearly on the right track.
Canadians have given our government a strong mandate to focus on building a stable economy and securing jobs. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan stays the course with a prudent, low tax plan that will continue to support the economic recovery and create more jobs.