Friday, July 29, 2011

On rats and ratting

Turmel_Mulcair Photo credit – © House of Commons

Yesterday, NDP leader Nycole Turmel was pressed to explain whether one of her party’s deputy leaders, Outremont MP Thomas Mulcair, considered joining the Conservative Party of Canada before he joined the NDP in 2007—according to the Ottawa Sun, a Mulcair spokeswoman refused to deny Tory claims that negotiations between them and Mulcair involved a cabinet position.

Readers may remember that before he entered federal politics, Thomas Mulcair was a prominent Liberal cabinet minister under Premier Jean Charest. He resigned from that cabinet in 2006, and resurfaced in federal politics, winning the only NDP seat in Quebec in a 2007 federal by-election.

To me, it’s a tossup to decide who looks worst in this:

On the one hand, we have the federal Tories seemingly prepared to offer a Quebec Liberal a cabinet post—so much for long-suffering Tory back-bench MPs. Some might see that as rather crass politics on the part of the Conservatives.

On the other hand, we have Mulcair “shopping” for a federal party—so much for principal and political philosophy or what some might see as crass politics on the part of Mr. Mulcair.

Changing political parties is always dicey, notwithstanding the fact some political icons have done so successfully. The practice is held in such low esteem in the United Kingdom that it’s called “ratting”. Sir Winston Churchill ratted in 1904 by crossing the floor from Conservative to Liberal and returned to Conservative ranks in 1924, after a short stint as an independent. Churchill famously quipped: “anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.”

Thomas Mulcair is no Winston Churchill, however, and this news does warrant asking just how committed this man is to anything other than his own political ambition. But, still, I can’t shake the unease I feel when I think the Tories were, apparently, prepared to give him a cabinet seat [shudder].



Contents, except photograph,
© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

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