TIGNISH — Hal Perry has turned his back on the people who elected him, says the Liberal he defeated in the last provincial election.
In reaction to Perry’s decision to leave the Opposition Progressive Conservative caucus and join the governing Liberals, Neil LeClair said Thursday the move doesn’t surprise him.
“When you see him in action, he’s making decisions for himself. And I think that’s his main focus,” LeClair said.
“We had a very close election here and the Conservatives voted Conservative to put a Conservative in, and basically what he did now was turn his back and walk across and leave them out in the cold,” said LeClair, who ran as the incumbent Liberal cabinet minister in the last provincial election.
LeClair said it doesn’t surprise him that Perry would shift sides, but he felt the best thing for the people of the riding, and especially for the people who elected him, would have been to resign his seat and then run in a byelection.
As for the next provincial election, LeClair isn’t convinced Perry has a lock on the Liberal nomination.
Normally, he agreed, no one seeks a nomination against an incumbent, but he pointed out what happened Thursday was unprecedented.
“We don’t know where we’re going on this,” he said.
“I am disappointed Hal Perry has chosen to leave the Progressive Conservative caucus. It will be up to voters of District 27 to pass judgment on his decision in the next election,” Gail Shea
Although LeClair said he hasn’t completely left politics, he said he has not given much thought on whether he would be interested in running again. He’s clear, though, that Perry didn’t win the seat as a Liberal.
“The election was so close the last time, with 33 votes between us,” he pointed out. “It wasn’t the Liberals who elected Hal; it was the Conservatives.”
In making the move, Perry cited concerns with the federal Conservatives handling of EI reforms and that he was being held back from addressing that issue from within the PC caucus.
“A sitting Conservative with a Conservative government in Ottawa and he can’t get anything done with his own Conservative party ... That statement really doesn’t make sense,” said LeClair.
Perry’s Tignish district is also home to Conservative MP Gail Shea, who sits in Stephen Harper’s cabinet — the same government that made the EI changes at the heart of Perry’s concerns.
Shea was out of province but issued this statement: “I am disappointed Hal Perry has chosen to leave the Progressive Conservative caucus. It will be up to voters of District 27 to pass judgment on his decision in the next election."