Rathgeber says he feels 'liberated' after quitting Conservative caucus
Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber tells CTV Question Period he has no intention to lead "a new movement" of backbenchers following his high-profile resignation from the Conservative caucus this week.
Rathgeber announced on Twitter Wednesday that he had decided to quit caucus hours after members of his own party altered his private member’s bill to reveal the salaries of senior federal bureaucrats.
Speaking Sunday on CTV’s Question Period, Rathgeber said he made his decision based on what he sees as some "very, very difficult problems" in the relationship between the Prime Minister’s Office, the House of Commons and backbenchers.
However, the Edmonton-St. Albert MP said he made the decision to become unaffiliated for the “benefit of my constituents” and is not encouraging other backbenchers to follow suit.
“They may or they may not, but it’s not going to be on my pushing or prodding.”
Rathgeber also said he does not believe discontent among backbenchers is widespread, as some have come to believe following attempts by a handful of backbenchers to be given more freedom to speak in the House.
Though the PMO has called on Rathgeber to resign as MP and run in a by-election, he said he has no intention to leave Parliament Hill. He acknowledged however, that keeping his seat as an independent would be difficult in an election.
“When you make this type of decision you have to be realistic that it might be the last time you’re ever elected."
Still, Rathgeber said he's received "overwhelming" support.
"We are getting thousands of emails and Twitter comments largely but not exclusively from our riding and they are overwhelmingly in support of this decision," he said. "That being said, those who are angry with me are very angry with me."
Continuing his MP duties as an independent, Rathgeber said he looks forward to holding ministers to account by asking "unvetted" questions in the House.
"I do feel a certain sense of liberation," he said.
While Rathgeber called the system "broken," other Conservative MPs came to the government’s defence.
Speaking in the House, Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai said he has "numerous" opportunities to put views forward and have input on public policy.
"These policies are made by grassroots members and elected members together," he said. "We do not campaign on our personal agendas."