Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Une décision en toute sérénité"


I suppose we shouldn't be shocked that one of the NDP's rookie Quebec MPs decided to cross the floor move down the opposition benches...but it's still a bit of a surprise to see Lise St-Denis jump to the Liberals less than a year after the election.

As for her motives, even after listening to the press conference, that's still a bit of a mystery. St-Denis is 71 so this isn't a case of long term ambition. There's nothing in recent polls to suggest the NDP ship is sinking. There's been no high profile issue split between her and the NDP. The NDP leadership race is still ongoing, so it's not like she's upset with the new leader. And life with the third party in the House isn't any more glamorous than life with the second party in the House.

If I had to guess, I'd assume St-Denis found herself elected as an NDP MP without ever giving a lot of thought to why she was a New Democrat. After learning a bit more about the parties, she changed her mind.

If this all seems odd, it's because people like St-Denis rarely find their way to the House of Commons. She would never have been nominated if the NDP expected to win the riding. The fact that we have 50 accidental MPs siting on the NDP benches means things will happen that defy political convention. This may be the first example, but it certainly won't be the last.

Given that, I wouldn't read too much into this. St-Denis is a no-name who was elected on Jack Layton's coat tails, in a riding where the Liberals got 12%. Yeah, it will be a bit awkward for former Bloc member Nicole Turmel to explain this one. It's one less endorsement for Thomas Mulcair. It will mean a few days of positive press for the Liberals.

But this isn't a game changer, and its impact on Canadian politics will be fairly insignificant.

Labels:

13 Comments:

  • In a sweep, you elect your fair share of flakes. This is likely one of them. That being said, still embarassing for the NDP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:47 PM  

  • The NDP was reportedly putting pressure on her to actually live in the riding she was elected to represent. The Liberals apparently don't care about such things.

    By Anonymous Nuna D. Above, at 12:58 PM  

  • Insignificant? Sure. But wouldn't this have been a small, but great gesture to show the Liberals have changed by rejecting this type of nonsense? I think this does nothing but momentarily re-inforce a 'business as usual' image of the Liberal Party.

    By Anonymous hazzard, at 1:13 PM  

  • On one hand MPs should be independent-minded people who would occasionally find themselves more aligned with one party than another.

    On the other hand, her constituents elected an NDP member, not a Liberal member, and technically she should check with her constituents before making such a move (via a by-election).

    That being said, at least this floor crossing doesn't stick of bribery and deceit like so many of those in the past.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 1:35 PM  

  • "If this all seems odd, it's because people like St-Denis rarely find their way to the House of Commons."

    I don't think it is that odd. Parties often recruit candidates from the outside who have had little connection with the party or politics, although they tend to be star candidates in ridings they hope to win, rather ones they expect to loose. It's not unusual for candidates like that to cross the floor.

    Of course, that doesn't seem to be the case here. It seems she was focused on one area of the party and didn't pay much attentions to the rest of it.

    By Blogger doconnor, at 2:13 PM  

  • Media reports suggested she had been a long-time volunteer with the NDP, so their policies were hardly unknown to her. Can anyone confirm?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:28 PM  

  • Of course she says why she switched...

    "St-Denis said her decision to jump was based on the Liberals' social policy and job-creation strategies as, as well as the NDP pulling support for the mission in Libya in its final weeks."

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 4:47 PM  

  • I thought liberals put forward legislation to ban floor crossings without byelections?!? She should sit as an independant until she is elected as a Liberal. At a time of renewal this looks liks more of the same old crass politics

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:58 PM  

  • It is the Member who is elected, not the Party. Voters need to spend more time getting to know the individual, and not merely spending 30 seconds learning the party platform highlights.

    More importantly, pundits need to understand that forcing a by-election would strengthen, not weaken, the stranglehold of influence Parties exert over their elected MPs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 AM  

  • I don't think it is that odd. Parties often recruit candidates from the outside who have had little connection with the party or politics, although they tend to be star candidates in ridings they hope to win, rather ones they expect to loose. It's not unusual for candidates like that to cross the floor.

    That's likely the case - Emerson comes to mind as a perfect example of this.

    Still, a star candidate in a winable riding is going to get a lot more scrutiny from the party before they're nominated, to try and make sure something like this doesn't happen.

    And afterwards they usually have ambitions that preclude a floor crossing or will be given a large enough role in the party that they'll be happy where they are.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:20 AM  

  • I thought liberals put forward legislation to ban floor crossings without byelections?!? She should sit as an independant until she is elected as a Liberal. At a time of renewal this looks liks more of the same old crass politics

    I'm fairly sure it was the NDP who proposed this.

    And the second anon makes a good point. Baning floor crossings makes it a lot harder for MPs to speak out or quit caucus on principle. Yes, they could still sit and run as independents, but it definitely strengthens the leader's hand.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:22 AM  

  • It does mean that Jean Chrétien's old riding has a Liberal MP again, something that would have seemed out of the question just a year ago. But not likely to change the world.
    All the same, I do wonder if the Liberals mightn't be the beneficiaries should the NDP collapse someday in Quebec? Stranger things have happened.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 3:44 PM  

  • "All the same, I do wonder if the Liberals mightn't be the beneficiaries should the NDP collapse someday in Quebec? Stranger things have happened."

    After supporting the Conservatives, Bloc and NDP, they've run out of parties, so they may go back to the Liberals.

    Unless the come up with a new party. That seems to happen a lot in Quebec.

    By Blogger doconnor, at 3:49 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home