Thursday, February 28, 2013

How serious is the loss of Claude Patry for the NDP?

My Claude Patry from Jonquière—Alma has decided to leave the NDP and join the Bloc.   I had wondered right after the federal election if a number of the new NDP MPs might cross the floor to the Bloc, it would only take eight of them to give the Bloc party status again in the House.   In the end the NDP has only lost two Quebec MPs, Lise St-Denis who crossed to the Liberals in January 2012 and now Claude Patry joining the Bloc.

Claude Patry's move is interesting given that recent polling in Quebec still has the NDP with a solid lead.  The Bloc is not only not leading, it is in third.  Among Francophones the NDP had a large lead over the Bloc.   So why make this move now?  His reasons for leaving are not very convincing - the NDP stance of the Clarity Act (he knew this running as a New Democrat, or should have) and opposition to the Muskrat Falls project.

The riding of Jonquière—Alma is going to largely altered with 2/3s in the new Alfred-Duhuc riding but this new riding also includes a good chunk of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.   I can not see anything that indicates the boundary changes are the reason for the change in party.  Maybe it is him recognizing this is not natural NDP territory and somewhere more likely to vote for the Bloc?

The NDP has done well not to lose more MPs out of their Quebec caucus than they have.  It is not uncommon when a swath of people are suddenly elected in a surprising result to see some of them turn out to be flaky or not really believe in the party they were elected for.  The NDP only has a problem if there are others that cross to the Bloc in the near future.   Various NDP MPs from Quebec do have histories of being friendly to the separatist party but was that because it was the only left of centre option or because of an underlying belief in an independent Quebec?

Everyone is going to try and spin this to their benefit, but at the end of the day it is only one MP and not enough to change anything in the House.   I see little coming out of Patry that indicates he understands the decision he has made and how weak his defense of crossing the floor has been.
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