A politician's obligation should be to the people, not party

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It’s refreshing to see a politician of any stripe stay true to their commitment to the very people they represent.

It’s the way it should be. When it’s clear many Canadians are against a carbon tax, we shouldn’t be told that we’re for it. A government should bear in mind they are elected by the people, and therefore are elected to represent them, not impose their party’s will onto them.

In the first sitting of the fall session of Parliament Monday, Liberal MP Leona Alleslev showed that she understood exactly what her role as a politician should be when she stood up and announced she would be crossing the floor to join the Conservative Party of Canada.

Think what you will of floor crossing. You’re allowed to hate it, you’re allowed to believe that an elected official should consult their constituents via a by-election whether they have the mandate to switch parties or not. (Do make sure you’re at least consistent if you think that way about floor crossing, though. Hypocrisy doesn’t look good on anyone – if it’s OK for someone to floor cross when they cross to a party reflecting your priority, then it’s OK to cross the other way as well).

Personally, I think each case should be evaluated differently.

When members of the Wildrose crossed, I felt it was poorly executed and ill-timed. The Wildrose Party was born out of frustration with the Progressive Conservatives, so it was easy to see why voters felt betrayed.

When Sandra Jansen crossed, I had issue with it at first. It was such a drastic swing from one side of the political spectrum to the other, that surely her constituents had to have a problem with it. However, looking at her voting record, I decided it should’ve been little surprise she crossed, and I had more of an issue with what I still believe were flat out lies about never voting “with” the NDP. I’ve had an issue with her constant bitter vitriol, but not so much in terms of floor crossing if she believes that’s how she can best address the concerns of her constituents.

In the case of Alleslev, it would’ve been preferable for her to sit as an independent until the next election. It’s rare for governing party members to cross the floor to the opposition, however. Based on her speech within the House of Commons, and in interviews afterwards, it sounds like she felt her voice – rather, the voice of her constituents – would be more effective, perhaps better heard as part of the opposition.

“My attempts to raise my concerns with this government were met with silence,” she told the House of Commons.

Well, doesn’t this shed further light – if not confirmation – on how the Trudeau Liberals operate.

Liberal MPs are supposed to follow the status quo, vote with their party rather than constituents, and if they break ranks, prepare to be punished for it, as Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long was when he voted against proposed small business tax changes – a move that saw him kicked off two committees. When one disagrees, Trudeau and his ministers start labelling opponents “disgusting,” “unCanadian,” “racist,” and “climate change deniers.”

Not only do they want members to tow the party line in public, they appear to want them to do the same behind closed doors, stifling constructive thought and dismissing any concerns that don’t already align with their own.

All isn’t well with the Trudeau Liberals, especially when they’re losing supporters – not necessarily because of what the Conservative or NDP parties are doing, but because the Liberals are just failing in so many ways.

I have to give Alleslev credit, even if she did cross the floor, for being a politician willing to stand up to their party when needed, and up for their constituents.

“To my Liberal colleagues, thank you. But my oath is to my country, not party, and my sacred obligation is to serve my constituents,” she said. “It’s my duty to stand and be counted. Our country is at risk. The government must be challenged openly and publicly.”

Now, if only those she is now challenging would get back to – or start – doing the very same.