Gloves slipping off for Kelowna-area MPs

Liberal Stephen Fuhr and Conservative Dan Albas take to the internet to criticize each other

It’s taken a couple of years, but the chummy bi-partisan approach publicly displayed by Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr and his Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Conservative counterpart Dan Albas has evaporated.

Fuhr went on Facebook over the weekend accusing Albas, now his party’s small business critic, of taking cheap shots at him over the Liberal’s controversial planned changes to Canadian tax laws.

“So Dan Albas decides to bring partisan politics home to the Okanagan,” Fuhr wrote on his Facebook page. “Instead of working together for the betterment of the community, he would rather take cheap shots at me.”

In a column a few days earlier, Albas accused Fuhr of “failing to defend local businesses,” in part by voting against a Conservative motion to extend the 75-day consultation period the Liberal government put in place to gather the thoughts of Canadians on the planned tax changes.

Albas said only one Liberal MP “had the courage” to vote to extend the consultation period—and that wasn’t Fuhr.

“Liberal MPs, including Stephen Fuhr, are sitting in silence while (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau and the Liberals attempt to push these tax hikes through,” wrote Albas.

Given the partisan nature of politics these days—and the controversy swelling around the planned tax changes in particular—it was just a matter of time until Fuhr and Albas, who both represent parts of Kelowna within their respective, adjoining ridings, fell out.

What’s a surprise is it’s taken this long.

For his part, Albas has been much more politically aggressive since he was first named deputy finance critic by former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose and then promoted to small business critic in the shadow cabinet by new Tory party leader Andrew Scheer. Of course he would argue he’s doing what an Opposition MP is supposed to do—oppose.

Fuhr, on the other hand, would also argue he’s also doing what’s expected of an MP who represents the party in power—defending its policies and political moves.

The Kelowna-Lake Country MP also has a relatively high-profile political side gig as the chairman of the parliamentary national defence committee.

Having settled into their roles—Albas having had more time as he was first elected in 2011—both men are now starting to flex their politically partisan muscles and letting their respective political stripes peak out from under the dark suits and red and blue ties that have become the de-facto Grit and Tory uniforms for male MPs.

But the pair are actually just doing what they were elected to do—support and oppose.

In the meantime, they may need reminding a thicker skin is required by those seeking, and gaining, public office. The nature of any job you’re voted into means in all likelihood there will be people who didn’t vote for you and you’re going to be criticized.

So being badmouthed by another politician is par for the course, not really fodder for Facebook.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.