A week after Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina’s announcement that he would not contest the next election in protest over his government’s decision to fund the LRT project, the response has been generally positive. Bratina’s office immediately started fielding calls and texts that were overwhelmingly supportive.
National Post Columnist John Ivison, noting that Bratina was one of the few Liberals in 2019 who actually increased his vote while the party was dropping a million votes elsewhere in the country wrote, “The more lasting damage may be to the Liberal government, which could face a tough battle with the NDP to retain a seat that Bratina took from New Democrat Wayne Marston in 2015, and then held with an increased vote count four years later.” He described Bratina as “the kind of MP every party needs — a master of the local, who grew up in his riding and knows its streets, its people and their preoccupations.” He added , “To lose someone like Bratina should send alarm bells ringing in the Liberal hierarchy.”
An article in the Hill Times by Abbas Rana noted, “Prior to becoming prime minister, Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) had said that MPs should represent their constituents to the government, and not the other way around. Since gaining power, however, backbench Liberal MPs have claimed more than once that the government has not incorporated their feedback into its policies.” The article went on to quote, pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research, who told The Hill Times that “Mr. Bratina’s decision not to seek re-election should be a “cause of concern” for the Liberals. He said the Liberals are losing a politician with a lot of name recognition in the riding, and it matters that Mr. Bratina is quitting over an issue that is important to the local people. Mr. Lyle said that this will potentially have ramifications for all five ridings in the area, including those held by other parties.”
The Bratina announcement immediately fueled conjecture he would run for Mayor in the 2022 election, something he has not ruled out. On Hamilton Council, LRT opponent Judi Partridge messaged, “MP Bratina, thank you for opposing the LRT only option that the Feds forced on Hamilton Council. The fact you were included in a tweet by another MP stating you were pushing for it, is disrespectful to you and Council. You certainly deserved better. Council deserves better. More importantly, taxpayers of Hamilton deserve better.” The reference to the MP tweet was to Filomena Tassi’s tweet the day after the announcement, thanking everyone who “pushed” for the project and including Bratina’s name despite the fact that he had repeatedly voiced his objection to the project to her and her cabinet colleague Catherine McKenna. Councillor Tom Jackson, in support of Bratina’s position on transit noted, “It eerily reminded me of 21 years ago when former PC MPP Toni Skarica decided not to run again for the Harris Tories over Amalgamation. I remember that approx. 10,000 PC supporters stayed home during the 2000 By-Election that led to Liberal MPP McMeekin’s victory.”
There was some social media buzz around the aggressive demeanor adopted by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna as she made the announcement. Some felt she talked down to opponents of the project, creating discomfort for even some of those participating in the Zoom call. One Ottawa insider messaged: