Of cabinet solidarity and genocide

The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 1, 2004 – Page A6

Of cabinet solidarity
and genocide

Behind the closed doors of the cabinet room last week, Prime Minister Martin
singled out Revenue Minister Stan Keyes as a shining example of cabinet
solidarity after he voted against a private member’s motion to recognizes as
genocide the mass killing of Armenians during the First World War.

There were reports after the controversial vote that Mr. Keyes was cursing
the fact that some of his colleagues had missed the vote while he was forced
to vote against the motion, a gesture that was not without political cost
for him. This was acknowledged by Mr. Martin, who was angry with some of his
cabinet ministers for abstaining or for ducking the vote by leaving the
House without permission. The Liberal back bench voted with the opposition,
and the motion passed.

Meanwhile, the rule, according to a senior Liberal, is that cabinet
ministers must seek permission in advance to miss the vote. Mr. Keyes, who
had sought that permission, was already in the chamber when the vote began
and decided not to leave because, as he told someone, “[I’d] feel like a
heel walking out.”