By John Leung
Paul Martin must be licking his lips as he watches former Progressive Conservatives either come to him or choose to sit as independents. Scott Brison crossed the floor, Keith Martin said he will run for the Liberals in the upcoming election, and Joe Clark, John Herron and Andre Bachand are all currently sitting as independents and will not run in the next election.
The Conservatives, after gaining so much publicity, are now watching the wheels fall off. So it’s time for the Liberals to pop the champagne and celebrate a fourth majority government, right?
Not so fast. These people are traitors and yesterday’s news.
I once admired Joe Clark for being a wise elder statesman proudly representing Canada and letting go of his work to lead the Tories again. However, his stubborn inability to realize the Progressive Conservative name has been forever tarnished, resulting in a party which will never have the Queen’s mace pointing to their side of the Commons ever again made me lose almost every shred of respect I had for him.
Scott Brison is a so-called social progressive. Perhaps the only openly gay MP from either the Tories or the Alliance, he is probably the poster boy for the "red Tories:" socially progressive yet fiscally conservative. He is one of the people most likely to hold a position of power.
Yet, because the Conservatives no longer represented his interests, Brison has defected to the Liberals. For a party that doesn’t even have a platform or even policy as of yet, it is a clear sign he is nothing more than a political opportunist. I highly doubt the good citizens of Nova Scotia’s Kings-Hants constituency are stupid enough to fall for the classic "I’m on the winning side so prepare for a shower of goodies from Ottawa" ploy.
The same goes for Keith Martin.
No, the Conservatives don’t have a leader, let alone an election platform ready. So why is everyone jumping ship? Did these people even give a second thought, or come to the realization the Conservative Party is still defining itself?
A true Conservative wouldn’t jump ship or leave the table when times are lean or downright tough. Like the New Democratic Party, who has stayed strong in the face of adversity, the Conservatives will march bravely into the 2004 federal election.
There are no longer two right-wing parties squabbling, there is one united front that won’t just fall apart as pundits have predicted.
On top of this, it seems Sheila Copps and some of the true leftist Liberals are being courted by Jack Layton and the NDP. They’ve already lured Ed Broadbent out of retirement, and they’re firing on all cylinders.
With a strong Conservative party and the NDP armed with a strong contingent of left-leaning ex-Liberals, the Grits might want to consider putting the champagne on ice and trying to get a campaign going.
The 2004 federal election is sure to be interesting. This time around, we might even have a race–just what the doctor ordered for Canadian democracy.