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When Politicians Play Musical Chairs September 8, 2011

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.

Uffish Thoughts – When Politicians Play Musical Chairs

By Dan Davidson

August 14, 2011

– 657 words –

Whitehorse Star & Klondike Sun


As Ottawa reels over the news that members of both the New Democratic and Conservative parties used to belong to another political party, namely the Bloc Quebecois, Yukoners are scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about. We, as you all know, are no strangers to political games of musical chairs. Or should I say musical seats?

After all, the Yukon’s former Premier, Dennis Fentie, began his political career as a member of the NDP, but shifted to the Yukon Party when the opportunity arose.

Current members of the Liberal party also used to be members of the NDP, but jumped ship over disagreements with their leader at that time.

One member of the current governing party has been everything but a Liberal, choosing to sample most of the dishes at the territory’s political buffet.

In the past we’ve had Independents that chose to prop up the Yukon Party government of the day by becoming cabinet ministers without ever joining the party. Of course, parties with a conservative style philosophy don’t like the word “coalition” any more.

Speaking of independents, we’ve had all kinds of those. There were Yukon Party MLAs who became Independents because their party wasn’t conservative enough. There were Liberals who were unceremoniously booted from their party for not falling into line. There were MLAs from all three parties who became disenchanted with their leaders and bolted.

The first leader of the Yukon Progressive Conservative Party (which later dropped the two words in the middle) rode to victory on the promise that she would tear up her federal Liberal membership card if she were chosen. This enabled her to beat the federal Member of Parliament, Erik Nielsen, who truly was a Progressive Conservative right down to the ground, but had thought (in those Trudeau years) that it might be time to come home.

When I lived in Faro the Independent candidate was so clearly aligned in his sympathies that a local cartoonist suggested his affiliation should be spelled “iNDePendent”. He proved it by making it official later on.

When we have our territorial election in the fall, a former Conservative cabinet minister who once announced that he wanted to be a Liberal will now be running for the Yukon Party. A former Liberal cabinet minister will be running for the Yukon Party. A former NDP cabinet minister will be running for the Liberal party.

Is it any wonder that successive Data Path polls indicate that a lot of us haven’t got a clear political choice in our minds?

Of the two federal party switchers, the NDP’s Nycole Turmel says she joined the Bloc to please a friend. I suspect that a lot of us find our political choices have something to do with our personal friendships.

Conservative Transport Minister Denis Lebel, on the other hand, has indicated that his Bloc membership was a tactical one, made to give himself a connection to some of the power brokers in his riding. Again, this is not a particularly surprising thing. Actually, it’s more surprising that he admitted it.

Conservatives should be more careful when they criticize the Bloc. After all, the very first Bloc members, along with most of the founding Reform/Alliance members, were originally Progressive Conservatives, including Prime Minister Mulroney’s Quebec lieutenant, Lucien Bouchard, who led the Bloc for years.

The Liberals can’t really be any more upset, nor are they more ideologically pure. After all, interim leader Bob Rae was once the NDP premier of Ontario, and the current Liberal premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, was once the leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives.

Both federally and territorially, this would be a good time for everyone to step back and figure out what they really stand for – and then tell the rest of us about it before they change their minds again.




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