The defection of Eve Adams to the Liberals has raised a few eyebrows. But it happens all the time. What surprised so many was the way in which Justin Trudeau welcomed her into the fold, enthusiastically embracing a die-hard life-long Conservative. The Liberal big tent is now so commodious it will accommodate pretty much anyone who wants to enter.
Good on him.
Politicians such as Adams are always ready to complain that their Party has changed – not them – even when it is perfectly clear that by jumping ship they are driven by calculation and not conviction.
The Liberals need Adams like they need a dose of anthrax.
New convention needed
We need a new convention where MPs and MPPs swapping parties should automatically resign their seats, trigger a by election and stand for re-election under their new party colours.
This happened recently in the UK where two Conservative MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, frustrated by their Party’s position on the European Union, resigned their seats in the House of Commons and were successfully re-elected as UKIP MPs.
But this is very unusual. The list of Party swappers at Westminster goes back centuries, even before the creation of the UK. The list here in Canada is also impressively long. And full of famous faces.
Short-changing the voters
But trading in one Party for another – without asking the voters first – is to short change the electorate. Wildrose people in Alberta are still spitting feathers over the defection of its leader, Danielle Smith, to the Conservatives. An apologetic Preston Manning offers up a mea culpa for his role in the mass defection. But the damage is done. It fuels public cynicism and more people walk away from party politics, disillusioned.
Fewer people are choosing to join a political party as a way of changing things. Filling in a party membership form is increasingly seen as something bordering on the eccentric.
The big tent is more of a bivouac, and getting smaller all the time.
Elsewhere... I am left wondering how many people in Sudbury – whatever their politics – felt inspired by the recent campaign. The Party pooper on this occasion, Glenn Thibeault, (NDP to Liberal) at least had the grace to resign his seat in the Federal Parliament before seeking a new berth at Queen’s Park.
Under the Liberal Party rules, the nomination was in the gift of the Premier, Kathleen Wynne. She knifes the former Liberal candidate, Andrew Oliver, in the ribs in favour of the NDP turncoat who goes on to win the seat, just. Turnout at 40% was sharply down.
The police are now investigating whether attempts were made to bribe Oliver, a quadraplegic, to stand aside and give Thibeault a clear run. Should we care?
Meanwhile, Thibeault feels bad about letting his former colleagues down.
No wonder people are repelled by this circus.