Everyone spinning this story, perhaps this post is more of the same, but I think today's "defection" of an NDP MP to the Liberals has some significance. I admit, I was absolutely stunned to hear these rumours this morning, there is just nothing intuitive to the idea that the Liberals could pickup a MP from the NDP, particularly from Quebec of all places. However, the Liberals have snagged a NDP MP from Quebec, and while Rae is right to say don't "exaggerate" the meanings, this move isn't inconsequential either.
I look at this story in terms of optics and narratives. Here we have a party fighting for its life, relegated to almost an afterthought in the Commons, appearing a viable option to someone from a party supposedly on the rise, "one step" from government. In addition, the geography is interesting as well, because the Liberals are nowhere in Quebec at the moment, whereas the NDP hold the lion's share of MP's, there is simply NO easily ascertained advantage in jumping to the Liberals. A head scratcher no matter how you cut it, rationales aside, this sends a clear signal that the NDP are still on precarious perch, the Liberals obviously down but perhaps not out.
The NDP have seen their support in Quebec erode as of late. As well, most objective observers have seen a less than impressive expression in Ottawa, partially because of the leadership race, but that doesn't tell the whole story. There is still very much a lingering doubt that the NDP are "for real" so to speak, therefore declining polls, pedestrian performance as Official Opposition, tend to feed that apprehension. Today's floor crossing is simply more ammunition for this perspective, another item for the ledger, that suggests the NDP aren't the firm alternative to the current government that they wish to convey. In fact, the Liberals have outperformed the NDP to date in Parliament, perhaps this professionalism and steady work ethic contributed to this decision(I found St-Denis' policy rationales less than convincing in totality). Whatever, the overarching conclusion, the down on their luck Liberals somehow managed to attract a MP to the fold, something I doubt the most seasoned observer ever pondered.
Liberals now head to our Convention with wind in our sails. Any talk of "death" now temporarily muted, and I'm sure St-Denis will be welcomed as a conquering hero, a terrific shot in the arm, no doubt about it. This defection should offer no distraction to the daunting work ahead, but it does speak to a certain resilience.
Score one for the zombies. And, if you still doubt this defection doesn't matter, I quick read of our opponents reaction should convince you otherwise. The NDP on the wane finds concrete example, the Liberals "still not dead" finds further confirmation, and a sense that things are still very much in flux in Canadian politics. We'll take it.