Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On testing grounds

For the most part, I'll echo Dan's take on Lise St-Denis' party switch:
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.
That said, we may be able to tell much more from the aftermath of St-Denis' departure than from her initial move. If there's ever going to be the kind of mass exodus that some commentators have speculated about ever since the NDP's Quebec wave started developing, then St-Denis' move would seem to be as likely a precedent as any for others to follow. But conversely, if St-Denis is alone in her party switch, then there will be little reason to think that others within the NDP's set of new Quebec MPs are looking for an excuse to change their own allegiances.


  1. leftdog4:08 p.m.

    Floor crossing is an old and very bad habit of both federal Liberals and Conservatives. A new standard was struck in Saskatchewan when Roy Romanow welcomed incoming Liberal MLA, Buckley Belanger ... but only if he resigned his seat as a Lib and sought re-election as a New Democrat in a by-election. Belanger showed that this is very achievable ... winning a massive majority. I keep hearing a lot of talk about 'new politics' from some quarters in the federal NDP  .. maybe time to actually practice it by talking about the standard that was set with the 'Belanger method' in Sask.

  2. jurist4:49 p.m.

    Of course, the federal party has talked about that standard for some time. And hopefully one of the outcomes of St-Denis' departure will be to highlight the issue for the new crop of MPs (though of course it's Ravignat who's already sponsoring the anti-floor-crossing legislation).