© Guardian photo
NDP Leader Mike Redmond
NDP Leader Mike Redmond claims MLAs from both sides of the P.E.I. legislature approached his party, looking to defect to the NDP.
All of those Redmond is naming outright deny the claims and are questioning Redmond’s motives.
A post appeared earlier this week on Facebook from a former member of the NDP youth who has since left the province.
Chris van Ouwerkerk states in his post he had two meetings with Liberal backbench MLA Richard Brown in October of last year.
“The conversation was of his interest in being the leader of the NDP P.E.I.,” van Ouwerkerk wrote, quoting former party president Andrew Want.
He said the meetings took place before Redmond had announced his intention to run for the party’s leadership last year and were eventually not pursued.
The post has since been widely circulated.
Redmond told reporters Thursday he was told by a member of his party six consecutive weekly meetings were held with Brown to discuss his interest in joining the NDP.
Brown firmly denies all the claims.
He said van Ouwerkerk approached him last October, asking for a meeting in the Coles Building.
“I don’t ask anyone their political affiliation when they come to my office… he came in and said, ‘You must be unhappy with Robert (Ghiz), you must be unhappy with the government. Why don’t you join the NDP?’”
Brown says he was incredulous and told him he is a Liberal through-and-through.
“Other people have asked me, would I come over to their party, and my standard line to anyone who asks is, I’m a Liberal in good times, bad times, sickness and in health and until death do us part.”
Redmond also says several Tory MLAs approached his party, looking to possibly jump to the NDP.
Nine months ago, when the Progressive Conservative party was in turmoil following a tumultuous annaul general meeting and Olive Crane’s resignation as leader, Redmond says ‘insiders’ from the PC party made overtures regarding three MLAs interested in joining the NDP - Crane, Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie and Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry.
“They didn’t exactly name names, but that’s who we understood it would be,” Redmond said.
“We said our door was open for conversations and we left the door open and nobody from the Conservative party re-engaged after that point.”
Perry, who has since left the PC party and joined the Liberals, has denied he was ever interested in joining the NDP. Crane too has denied any such overtures were made on her behalf and has stated strongly her dedication to being a Progressive Conservative.
In an interview with The Guardian Thursday, LaVie says he never asked anyone to approach the NDP nor was he aware of anyone doing so on his behalf.
“However I was approached by a former (PC) chief of staff to go independent,” LaVie added.
He said this offer to go independent was made with the idea he, Crane and Perry would all go together.
“It never went anywhere, it was just a mention,” LaVie said.
“I said, ‘No, I’m a proud PC member and I was elected as a PC member and I’m here to represent my people in the district.’”
LaVie says the NDP claims are nothing but ‘rumours and innuendo.’
Brown said he believes Redmond is trying to benefit politically from the turmoil of party defections and caucus changes over the last few weeks.
Redmond is planning to run against Brown for the Charlottetown-Victoria Park riding.
“There’s no question he’s running against me in the district and the election is two years away and I guess he wants to start it now,” Brown said.