Pastoor across the floor

- November 22nd, 2011

The first day of the second half of the abbreviated fall session of the legislature was a busy one.

New legislation on the table, a growing deficit, government opponents suggesting health-care premiums are on the table, and if that wasn’t enough, the Tory caucus grew by one.

Lethbridge Liberal Bridget Pastoor, who in the past has been a member of the PC party, jumped ship to join Alison Redford’s Tories.

The MLA is the second since the election of new leader Raj Sherman, himself a former Tory, to announce a departure from caucus.

Feisty Edmonton MLA Hugh MacDonald has already announced he won’t be seeking re-election.

The move by Pastoor has reignited the debate over whether MLAs and MPs should be allowed to do such a thing. It’s the same argument that came up when Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth left the Tories to join the Wildrose Party.

At the time, those departures were blasted even by Tory MLAs, one even wanted to see other moves banned. But there was nary a peep from now-Education minister Thomas Lukaszuk, who pitched the proposal.

From my editorial:

While everyone is well within their right to feel betrayed and to question a politician’s motives for leaving a party, eroding rights to remedy hurt feelings is pretty ludicrous.

The hurt feelings of the political elite don’t warrant knee-jerk legislation, especially when it might violate a number of freedoms we take for granted.

That includes the freedoms of conscience, expression and association, all outlined in the Charter.

For a party that claims to believe in rights, suggested as a motivation behind the parental rights clause of Bill 44, the prospect of this bill smacks of totalitarianism.

Thankfully, the notion seems to have vanished.

But Pastoor’s departure brings up one important question: Why?

I’m left wondering is why the Tories want Pastoor and, frankly, why she would want them.

For a party trying to fend off challenges from a strong right-wing contender, scooping up a Liberal doesn’t do them any favours with the right. And while I strongly believe they have the right to make the move, joining a party you’ve spent seven years criticizing always seems a little strange, especially when it’s a jump to the party in power.

But “having a seat” at the table is something that Pastoor said is important, as she told reporters:

“This way I will be able to sit at the table where the decisions will be made. I’ll be able to have input into the policy. I’ll be able to say from the inside what I’ve saying from the outside.”

Take that how you will, but it doesn’t help kill the notion that’s being floated in some circles that all the Tories care about is being in power.

Categories: Politics

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2 comments

  1. S Klassen says:

    In her constituency’s best interest, it was likely an appropriate move. When my friend Ken Nicol, as leader of the Liberal Party, and tried harder than any of his predessors or successors, reigned, things did not change for them; the Liberals will likely never hold power in Alberta. Good luck Bridget!

  2. Mike Stirton says:

    It matters not what their reason for jumping ship is to me. My personal belief is that if they feel so strongly about it, put the choice to their constituents by resigning and forcing a by-election to see if that is indeed what their constituents really want representing their locale. That to me is ultimate in democracy…allowing the voter a say on the issues that led to them wanting to change banners.

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