Thursday, October 25, 2007


Jeff's post on the federal NDP candidate for Fredericton's defection to the Liberals is interesting, for a number of reasons:
Saint John Member of Parliament Paul Zed on behalf of the New Brunswick Federal Liberal Caucus welcomes Fredericton NDP candidate Kelly Comer to the Liberal Party.

“We are delighted to welcome Ms. Comer to the Liberal Party,” said Mr. Zed. “The Liberal Party is a diverse, open party, and we are pleased that Ms. Comer has chosen to join us and our Leader St├ęphane Dion as we work to build a better New Brunswick and a better Canada.”

Mr. Zed notes that Ms. Comer is the second federal NDP candidate to leave the party to join the Liberal Party. Terry Albright, the former President of the New Brunswick NDP and federal NDP candidate in Saint John in 2004 and 2006 left the party to join the Liberal Party in 2006.

“Clearly, people are very disillusioned with the NDP under Jack Layton’s leadership,” said Mr. Zed.

Comer described the NDP's policy on Afghanistan as "naive". The timing of this move is noteworthy, because it comes on the heels of Layton's outreach to disaffected Liberals.

What I find curious, the complete lack of media coverage for this defection. I've scanned all the usual news sources, nary a peep, nothing, nada. Let's pretend that this was a Liberal candidate defecting to another party. You can just imagine, another series of opinion pieces, every outlet using the story, another cycle of negative Liberal coverage. In the spirit of fairness, if you want to point out the Liberal failures, should you not also point out the positives? Where is the journalistic balance in this instance? Seems to me, we heard a great deal about Layton targeting soft Liberal support, doesn't this development speak to that theme?


Gayle said...

It was on Duffy last night. They made point of bringing it up as soon as the NDP guy started bashing the libs.

Of course that is just part of Duffy playing into Harper's hands by setting the libs and NDP after each other and allowing the conservatives a pass.

Steve V said...

I did see that, it was Lavigne. It was pretty funny, as he started welcoming all Liberals to join the NDP, the new talking point and then Duffy threw out this turd for context. After I saw the mention, I scanned around last night and found nothing more on it, and today the only thing was Jeff's link.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I don't see this as generalizable outside of New Brunswick, actually. On the other hand, combined with the similar 2006 defection from the same region (and the fact that the provincial NDP in New Brunswick couldn't get a leader for a looooong time after theirs stepped down), it really suggests that the party is hurting pretty badly in that particular province, with no rebound in sight.

I've actually been intrigued for a while what makes for the difference between New Brunswick, where the NDP is virtually non-existent, and Nova Scotia, where the NDP almost formed a minority government in the last provincial election and doesn't do that badly federally, either. It's curious.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

P.S. One measure of just how badly the NDP is hurting in New Brunswick: we do significantly better both provincially and federally in Alberta. ;-)

Steve V said...

"I don't see this as generalizable outside of New Brunswick, actually."

ID, you are right, but by that argument you could make the same case about the Liberals in Quebec, although it is different in many, many ways. I just think it deserves coverage because we seem to make a big deal out of other similar developments, it shouldn't be party specific.

Steve V said...

"P.S. One measure of just how badly the NDP is hurting in New Brunswick: we do significantly better both provincially and federally in Alberta. ;-)

Point taken :)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

by that argument you could make the same case about the Liberals in Quebec

I agree. I've made exactly that argument in the comments section of this very blog, I'm pretty sure.

In fact, I have to say that I've been puzzled that more Liberals haven't been saying "okay, sure, we're having trouble in Quebec, but the rest of the party is fine, so this mass hara-kiri is a bit much, don't you think?" Sure, it would probably be imprudent for Dion to say that himself--but the bloggers aren't even pushing that argument, and that's always seemed a little odd to me.

Dan McKenzie said...

Cause Quebec Liberals would get mad if we treated Quebec like just any other province idealist. hehe

On the topic, the media will only cover a story if it fits the narrative. Perhaps if this had happened soon after Pat Martin made those comments about the NDP not serving a purpose then the media would cover this.

It's like that guy Pierre Bellerose (or whatever his name was) giving up his nomination as a Liberal in Quebec. The Liberals will never win that seat and his candidacy is about as important as a Liberal candidate in Wild Rose but because of the struggles Dion was having in Quebec it fit the narrative, and in the media's eye warranted coverage.

That being said it's still good coverage for the Liberals in New Brunswick and I'd think would certainly aid the Liberals in holding the Andy Scott seat. Also, I still wouldn't rule out this story getting a little more attention elsewhere.

Gayle said...

"P.S. One measure of just how badly the NDP is hurting in New Brunswick: we do significantly better both provincially and federally in Alberta."

You know what is even funnier, today one of my colleagues asked me if I would run for the NDP next election. Honest!

I pointed to Jeff's blog and said no thanks.

Not that he actually has any authority over nominations, but apparently they have been asking him to run and he wanted to know if I would do so instead.

It would be kind of hard to run for the NDP when both of us will be volunteering for Jim Wachowich from the liberals :).

Anonymous said...

There is a perfectly good reason why this gets very little coverage. It's a very minor story. We are talking about an unknown NDP candidate in a riding where the NDP has never even come remotely close to winning, in a small province that is of little or no importance to the national political scene.

Quebec is 25% of Canada and has 75 seats. It was a Liberal stronghold for many years and Dion is from Quebec. I think that the collapse of the federal Liberals in francophone Quebec is a vastly bigger story than this insignificant story out of New Brunswick.

On top of that, I doubt if the Liberals want to draw too much attention to someone joining their party because she SUPPORTS the war in Afghanistan and favours nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous that this is not a story to make it on the national level, although I thought Comer's reasons sounded well thought out and are not as simply categorized as supporting nuclear power and the Afghanistan war.

I don't think Layton's current pitch to recruit Liberal voters will have much effect. There are substantial Liberal-NDP swing voters, but the ones I know are much more negative on Harper/new CPC than on Dion/Liberals and hope to go to the polls when there is some viable alternative to Harper. If the NDP really wants to be that viable alternative, they have to do a lot more than write letters asking people to switch their voting preference just because the NDP took a principled stand when it didn't cost them anything to do so.

Every politician takes a principled stand when there are no costs and only benefits. That's the way politics seems to work. Now, whether they should take principled stands when it costs a lot -- that is certainly worth debating, and it depends on the principles and costs, but Layton hasn't been in a position to display how he would behave in such a situation. [At least recently. I recall him abstaining in the past and then asking for it to be recorded as a no when it was clear it wouldn't change the outcome. I supported him through all that, figuring politics is a series of compromises.]