Political nomination races and party leadership races are the most divisive events in the life of a political party activist and member. Many who take part in them, as a candidate or a supporter of a candidate live to tell their stories after, but a few drop off the political map and are never heard from again. For me, that’s the strangest part, the ones that just drop. I get why they might leave, grudges that are not forgotten; unhappiness with the results; and everything in some races, it gets personal. The ones that drop didn’t anticipate it getting personal – it was all supposed to be easy, just politics. We have followed examples the last couple of weeks of difficult political decisions based on principle.
The split of Maxime Bernier from the Conservative Party of is well known and was demonstrated twice. The first was on the opening day of the Conservative Party convention and a second time on the Friday before the return to Ottawa by Members of Parliament. Bernier announced the founding of the People’s Party of Canada, his party that he will lead into the next federal election next October, or as early as Spring 2019.
Bernier’s fundamental differences with the current political parties are of being ‘vote whipped’ and worrying about politics over people. He will stand for mainly libertarian values but will accept all into his party, except for people who do not believe on what he hopes to achieve. He has not ruled out those who are disappointed with the NDP joining his party. To make it clear that it was one of the main reasons for the creation of the PPC, Bernier stood in the House of Commons and asked for unanimous consent that the government policy of supporting Supply Management end. The motion did not receive unanimous consent.
The second and loudest difficult decision came as MP’s returned to the House days after Bernier’s announcement. A Liberal MP crossed the floor and no one saw it coming.
Rising on a Point of Privilege in the House during the first hours of house business, Leona Alleslev, the Liberal MP for the riding of Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill talked about the silence in which her questions and comments on government policy were answered. Before she announced her crossing to the opposition Leona Alleslev stated that she serves her constituents, not a political party. She went further to say that in order to be able to question the government about the issues she felt were important she could not do that from where she was sitting – she had to cross and join the Conservative opposition. You can watch her speech here: Leona Alleslev crossing over speech
I don’t know Ms. Alleslev, but no one; I mean no one makes that decision without examining the risks and knowing the consequences of the act she was under taking. She leaves the Liberal Party where she had relationships that are likely broken and on the other hand Leona is moving to a party where she has to build new relationships.
The first positive is that she has established camaraderie with conservative leader Andrew Scheer the others will fall in.
This however leaves someone else to consider, another “democracy is not easy” casualty, Costas Menegakis the Conservative Party candidate that lost to Alleslev in 2015 by fewer than 1100 votes. Menegakis had been re-nominated as the conservative candidate in the riding and was at the time of the Alleslev crossing campaigning against her.
My understanding is that Menegakis gladly stepped aside for Ms. Alleslev and will seek the nomination in the neighbouring riding of Richmond Hill, where, as I learned, he was the elected MP in Richmond Hill from 2011 to 2015. Menegakis ran in the new Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill riding in 2015. In the last election the Liberals took Richmond Hill with a 1757 vote win. The percent difference in Richmond Hill was 3.58% while in the neighbouring riding the Liberals led the CPC by 2.15%. With Ms. Alleslev as the Conservative MP in Aurora –Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill and Menegakis moving to what conservatives must feel is a winnable seat the CPC could steal two ridings from the
Menegakis must have been shaking his head at the speed at which this happened thinking politics is a game you can never predict. Democracy is certainly never easy.
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