Nobody benefits from claims sitting MLAs entertained thoughts of joining NDP
It’s probably fair to say most Islanders are feeling bewildered by NDP Leader Mike Redmond’s assertions that several sitting MLAs offered to leave their parties for his.
Mr. Redmond claims Liberal MLA Richard Brown had six consecutive weekly meetings with Island New Democrats with the view to becoming NDP leader. Mr. Redmond himself wasn’t at these alleged meetings and they occurred before he himself ran for the leadership.
He also told reporters Thursday that nine months ago, Progressive Conservative members made overtures on behalf of three MLAs he understood to be Olive Crane, Colin LaVie and Hal Perry.
Since that alleged contact, Mr. Perry has jumped ship — not to the NDP but rather the Liberals. And Ms. Crane has been kicked out of the PC caucus and plans to sit as an independent Conservative member.
Mr. Brown concedes he had a meeting with NDP members — at their request — but flat out denies he ever had any intentions of leaving the Liberals.
Mr. LaVie says he was approached to join Mr. Perry and Ms. Crane as independent members when the party was divided over Crane’s leadership. But he says that idea didn’t go anywhere and he is a “proud PC member”. The story reporters were told Thursday is the latest twist in a very unusual off-season for P.E.I. politics. One commenter to The Guardian website asked, “What is this, Game of Thrones?”
While the plot twists are a lot less bloody than the HBO series about fictional kingdoms vying for the Iron Throne, Islanders have been hit with a few cliffhangers in what should be a hiatus in episodes from the provincial legislature. And this latest story seems to come out of nowhere. And serve no purpose.
If it is true the NDP spoke to the four politicians in hopes of having them switch sides — and even if those MLAs were very receptive to those meetings — no one benefits from the story leaking out. If it is not true, everyone is tarnished by the gossip.
The NDP comes off looking desperate — they’ll take anybody at all with a seat in the legislature, no matter their political ideology. And undesirable — not one of the four MLAs purportedly approached ended up with an NDP membership card. The MLAs look disloyal and a little desperate, too, shopping themselves around to the highest bidder — even a party without a single elected member.
So, who would spread these tales, whether true or not? The rumours were fanned by a recent Facebook post by a former member of the NDP youth wing, who has since left the province. Chris van Ouwerkerk posted he was present at two meetings with Mr. Brown a year ago where the NDP leadership was on the table.
Mr. Brown agrees he met with Mr. van Ouwerkerk, at the latter’s request, and was amazed when the topic of switching parties came up.
“I’m a Liberal in good times, bad times, sickness and in health and until death do us part,” Mr. Brown said was his response to the offer.
If any of the four MLAs were tempted to join the NDP a few months or a year ago, they’re flatly denying it now. It would have been better for all concerned if Mr. Redmond kept to a similar line, or at least offered no comments on the negotiations.
For the rest of us sitting back and watching the show, it promises to be an interesting fall seating of the legislature when it resumes next month.