Don Martin: Alleslev defection an argument for banning floor crossing
When a Liberal MP marched across the House of Commons aisle to sit as a Conservative this week, reaction in the national press gallery was almost unanimous.
Reporters blitzed Google for details on this unfamiliar face and debated how to pronounce Leona Alleslev’s last name.
It’s safe to say, after almost three years as a government MP, Alleslev was an Exhibit A nobody.
That illustrates the fundamental flaw with floor-crossings.
It’s always about the MP’s self-interest, never about their voters.
Alleslev was not elected as a force of personality with a military background or because her north-of-Toronto voters were dazzled by her bilingualism.
She was elected as a coattail-clinging Liberal, someone who proudly and publicly proclaimed her loyalty to the party and its leader just two months ago. Her Liberal riding already had her on their ballot for 2019.
Yet, suddenly, she had this epiphany that sent her bolting for the blue.
Alleslev saw a wonky Liberal world view backed by wrongheaded taxation and defence policy. And nobody was listening, she lamented.
Strange, then, how there’s no record of her even trying to be heard by raising any of this anywhere.
To most minds, this defection was prompted by having been stripped of her parliamentary secretary gig and not shuffled back in a few weeks ago, which fits with Conservative sources telling me they landed her defection more than a week ago.
In other words, it was all about her.
Of course, it was never about her to the Conservatives.
Alleslev was warmly embraced as a political weapon, a disgruntled Liberal woman from a swing riding who could be scripted into trashing a feminist prime minister.
There’s a very simply solution that would save voters from being jerked around by MPs who see the Commons aisle as a red carpet welcome to personal gain and political revenge.
That wouldn’t require any change to the parliamentary rules. All it takes is for the Liberals and Conservatives to join the NDP and insist MPs seek voter permission in a by-election before changing parties.
That would full-stop MPs from party-swapping. They already know voters would, in most cases, veto their ballot box defection.
And that would be a relief to all the parties because the Commons floor has historically been a two-way crossing of bruised egos. One side claims a warm body, then the other.
Besides, as any party leader will tell you, keeping traitors muffled in their midst beats having a turncoat blasting into the headlines.
That’s the Last Word…