Interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel says she's a federalist, despite having had links to two sovereigntist parties and being a member of one as recently as Tuesday.
Just days after being named interim NDP leader, Turmel found herself on the defensive and explaining her involvement with parties other than the one she was elected to represent on May 2. NDP Leader Jack Layton is taking time off to battle cancer and he hand-picked Turmel to replace him.
Turmel held a membership with the Bloc Québécois until January of this year, and also held a membership in the left-wing, pro-sovereignty provincial party Québec Solidaire until Tuesday.
Turmel's side of the story is that she only bought the BQ membership to support a friend, Bloc MP Carole Lavallée (since wiped out in the orange wave). Presumably, each of the four times she renewed her membership, it was to support her friend. Presumably, the four financial donations she made to the Bloc over the years were in support of her friend. It does not sound like her Quebec Solidaire membership was to support a friend - rather, she joined them for policy reasons that had nothing to do with sovereignty.
That explanation will likely satisfy the majority of Quebecers - after all, most of them switched their allegiance from the Bloc to the NDP 4 short months after Turmel did.
Other Canadians may be less forgiving. As Rob Silver points out, the Bloc is not like other political parties. Its raison d'etre is Quebec independence - go buy a BQ membership online and it says right there: "devenir membre du Bloc Québécois, c’est soutenir activement le plus noble des objectifs, celui de se donner un pays" [google translation: "Vive le Quebec Libre!"].
For most voters, the Bloc is a separatist party and if you're a member, you're a separatist. Point finale. That's why Harper got so much traction by repeatedly screaming at the Bloc bogeyman during the coalition crisis. That's why most voters will feel a bit uneasy when Turmel says quitting the Bloc "had nothing to do with the party's policies".
Now, no one knew who Nycole Turmel was four weeks ago, and no one will care about her past four years from now when we head back to the polls. But it's yet another example of the close ties between the NDP and the separatist movement, something which could explode to the forefront should the PQ form government in Quebec. Or Turmel's old party, Quebec Solidaire, for that matter.
Labels: Nycole Turmel