Why would a ten year NDP loyalist, who ran in the last federal election with no expectations of winning, suddenly discover she’s a Liberal ten months after actually winning? That’s the question that everyone is asking after Lise St-Denis, MP for St-Maurice-Champlain Quebec crossed the floor to the liberals last week.
Sadly almost the entire Canadian media are too willing to accept her incongruous explanation that St-Denis offered for her crossing:
“The Liberal Party has a great deal of experience in decision-making,” she said. The party has a “more open, comprehensive, global view” than the New Democrats. As far as Quebec goes, she concluded, the Liberals “can do a better job defending Quebec’s place in Confederation than other parties.”
So, after ten years as a loyal NDP member, she suddenly realized she’s actually a Liberal? This is, in fact, Kelly McParland’s take on it (linked above), that “once she got that seat in the Commons and saw how things worked, a new reality dawned. The NDP, she saw, wasn’t ready for prime time.” Maybe.
However, there’s another, more cynical explanation that none of the media seems to see. St-Denis’ riding of St-Maurice Champlain is not just some riding she worked hard to get the nomination in, fighting the good fight. It is former Prime Minister Jean Cretien’s old riding, a Liberal stronghold. St-Denis, by her own admission, “never believed (she) would be elected.”
If you are going to be an opposition back-bencher in a minority Parliament, it matters little whether you sit with the second place party or the third – you get the same crappy office in the same crappy wing of Parliament Hill, you get no driver and the same pay. Liberal or NDP, it makes no matter.
But, if you are a first time MP, and you figure that you got elected because Quebec voters “voted for Jack Layton. Jack Layton is dead,” then you have to figure your chances of being re-elected are slim.
That should be fine. After all Lise St-Denis was never intending to be an MP and have a political career, she was just a loyal NDPer running so the NDP could claim her riding when filing out Elections Canada forms. So why cross the floor again?
Well maybe, now that St-Denis is ten months in, she has figured out that she needs to win just one more election, get her six years in, and she has herself one of those gold-plated MP pensions. And maybe she figures she has a markedly better chance of winning as an incumbent Liberal than as an incumbent NDPer.
Lise St-Denis is perhaps a canary in the coal mine for the NDP, a warning that things are not as rosy as the numbers make them appear. But not because the Liberal’s suddenly has up winnable policy, but because when her own self-interest was on the line, she chose the Liberals. It’s a warning for Canadian’s as well.
They may be working for you in principle, but not in fact.Tags: Liberal Party, NDP, Quebec