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Floor-crossing politicians should resign

Politicians crossing the floor to join opposing parties is not new or even that rare. In 2014, nine Wildrose MLAs abandoned ship to join the Progressive Conservative Party, which was the party in power at the time.
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Politicians crossing the floor to join opposing parties is not new or even that rare. In 2014, nine Wildrose MLAs abandoned ship to join the Progressive Conservative Party, which was the party in power at the time. Later, in 2016, a Progressive Conservative Party member joined the ruling NDP. The latest example is Federal Liberal MP Leona Alleslev's choice to jump ship and join the Conservative Party. Of course all make the choice saying it is in the best interest of their constituents and in protest to what they often say is a difference in political ideology. While that might be true, the crossings always come with a perception of opportunism. Either the person crossing has joined the party in power or, as in Alleslev's case, has been given a position of prominence, though Alleslev's move to the shadow cabinet is a rare reward. Even if the crossing is purely principle-based and the other results are merely coincidental, the argument that the politician's choice is best serving constituents rings hollow. According to a recent study by the University of Montreal, constituents rarely support a politician's floor-crossing impulse. The study tracked every Canadian politician since 1867 and discovered re-election is unlikely. From 1993 to 2015, of 20 floor-crossers who ran for re-election, all but six lost their seats. The study results are the only vindication to floor-crossers citing a sense of principle and not personal gain, but they also demonstrate why it is a betrayal of their constituencies. MPs and MLAs are elected based more on their party affiliation than their personal beliefs, primarily because it is the only way to choose who the premier or prime minister is. Even if a constituency bucks the norm and chooses based on the person instead of the party, crossing the floor is a betrayal of the mandate afforded to them by the voters. NDP candidates, Liberal candidates and Conservative candidates all run on the platforms set out by their parties not the beliefs of the individual members. Simply stated, voters elect based on the policies they support and those who cross the floor take the mantle of polices they voted against – which is a colossal betrayal of trust. If, as in Alleslev's case – assuming her reasoning is the truth – politicians can no longer support their party and working for change from within was impossible, then the politician should resign. Perhaps the cost of a byelection would be a deterrent. Even it it's not, the cost of a byelection is better than politicians working against the elected mandate of their constituents. Floor-crossers hold no mandate and should no longer have a seat at the table that drives Canadian or provincial policy.