Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why The Lise St-Denis Defection Matters

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.


Tof KW said...

Kinsella's been hi-lighting McParland's editorials in the National Pest as of late.
Have to concur -- he's right.
McParland hits another one out of the park here:

Full Comment: Lise St-Denis pokes another pin in deflating NDP bubble

Steve V said...

Feed the narrative, feed the narrative.

farwestie said...

Star story quotes St. Denis saying she was "impressed by the Liberals' 'sense of duty' to the country." The possibility of responsible gov't. by the LIberals should impress any Canadian with a brain in his/her head.
What other party can lay claim to that 'sense of duty' ? Certainly not the NDP, who brought us Harper as PM from day one. As for the Cons, it is to laugh.

sharonapple88 said...

Interesting timing... Right before the Liberal convention and the NDP's leadership race. (Weird that she didn't wait until after the leadership race to cross. Especially since she made a public endorsement for Mulcair.)

But I suppose this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Some NDP MPs don't appear to be hardcore politicians/party members.

Vancouverois said...

(A party fighting for its life. Not "it's".)

I'm a little surprised - I'd expect an NDP member from Quebec to defect to the Bloc, not the Liberals.

Steve V said...

She said she made the decision weeks ago, I suspect the timing of announcement was purposely before Convention to give a sense of momentum.

Typo fixed, thanks.

CuJoYYC said...

And in Canada, it's rumour not rumor.


Agreed on feeding the narrative.

Steve V said...

Tough crowd ;)

ottlib said...

I have not been paying any attention to the hurly-burly in Ottawa these days but this story caught my eye.

As I have argued before Canadians have never trusted the NDP with national government. The results of the last election could be an indication that we are seeing a change in that attitude. Then again it could very well have been just the Jack Layton effect.

We will know more in four years.

rockfish said...

You're attracting a more erudite crowd these days; must come with that third-party-but-wind-in-your-sails look...