The immediate response across Hamilton in the wake of Bob Bratina’s announcement that he would not run for the federal Liberals in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, was speculation about whether he would run for mayor in next year’s municipal election. His office has reportedly been fielding calls all day urging Bratina to run. Bratina’s future political plans were also being discussed among members of council. Appearing on the Scott Thompson Show on CHML Bratina repeated his opinion that the Federal government had no business imposing a transit solution on Hamilton. “Normally the way it works is that the request originates at the municipal council level and is forwarded to the province for support and for the province to then ask the federal government to share costs, not the other way around,” he told Thompson.
Bratina made his announcement in the form of a statement which was sent to the Prime Minister’s office, the Liberal caucus and to local media at about 6:40 this morning. The announcement had political staffers in Ottawa scrambling today. There had been rumors beginning last Friday that Bratina was not happy and that he might be taking some action, but apparently the prospect was not taken seriously, in part because the federal class of 2015 are only one election away from qualifying for the MP pension. There was also discussion that Bratina would be contacted by the Prime Minister or his staff over the weekend, but in the end the only call Bratina received prior to his announcement came from the Chief Whip of the party, Mark Holland but even then, no proposals were made to Bratina.
In interviews with the Bay Observer and with CHML, Bratina referred to the way the announcement was made in a video conference hosted by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna. The minister adopted an aggressive tone telling reporters that the deal was for LRT or nothing and cutting off any questions about council’s possible role in deciding on an alternative for Hamilton’s transit future. Sunday, while Bratina was working on his resignation statement. Hamilton MPP Filomena Tassi was putting out a tweet thanking everybody who has “pushed LRT” and included Bratina in the list, even though he had expressed his concerns about the project to her.
The full text of the Bratina statement follows:
BOB BRATINA MP
Hamilton East Stoney Creek
Today I am announcing my decision to not run in the upcoming election, whenever it should occur. Until it does, I intend to serve the people of Hamilton-East Stoney Creek to the best of my ability and to continue to work on files for which I am responsible, particularly around the steel industry and steelworkers. It has been beyond a privilege to serve the people of Hamilton as a federal representative, as it was to serve as a member of council and to be the mayor of this great city.
What has brought me to this decision at this time is not only the recent announcement by the federal government to intervene in the Hamilton transit situation with an LRT system that I believe in my heart is not the transit solution that Hamilton needs, and at a cost to Hamilton and Canadian taxpayers that I cannot in good conscience support; but also, the manner in which this deal came to pass.
I know that politics requires a lot of give and take—a lot of compromise– and I have demonstrated my willingness to do my share in order to bring about a greater good in any of the issues that confront us as political leaders.
But this week I found myself asking, what is one compromise too many, what mountain do we die on…to coin an old phrase. And I found that I was unable to support my colleagues on this project. I could not look Hamiltonians in the face who have trusted me over the years, and tell them that spending billions of dollars on a transit system that provides service to such a small portion of Hamiltonians was the best use of public finds—THEIR money, after all—and try to convince them it was the best public policy decision. Hamiltonians deserve a full picture of the cost ramifications of this project and even today we await this vital information.
Let me say that I make this decision with no personal animosity to any of my colleagues. I have seen firsthand that they are hardworking and dedicated to serving Canadians. I will always treasure the associations and opportunities for service this position has provided me. This is a policy disagreement, not a personal one. There is a long tradition in our Westminster parliamentary system of government, that when issues arise that cannot be supported on a matter of principle one sometimes finds it necessary to take a step like this. That is the light in which my decision should be viewed.
Throughout my long career in broadcasting and now my more than 16 years in politics, I have always made it my number one mission to support what I believed is good for the community. I have tried to always be a positive force in the city that has given me so much. I intend to continue to make a contribution in the years to come.
Listen to Interview
Bob Bratina’s political future was discussed again between Bay Observer Publisher John Best at CHML’s Greg Brady filling in on the Bill Kelly Show.