On Monday, September 17, a handful of elected Canadian officials showed that they did not care if democracy died.
Monday’s events played out as follows: Ontario MP Leona Alleslev, who was elected as a Liberal in the Aurora-Oak-Richmond Hill riding, delivered a speech about how Trudeau’s government was failing Canadians. She stated that, “to publicly criticize the government as a Liberal would undermine the government and […] be dishonourable.” She then proceeded to cross the floor and join the Conservative Party.
It’s funny that she is concerned of undermining the government when, by crossing the floor, that’s exactly what she did.
Alleslev cited her opinions on the economy and foreign policy as reasons for joining the Tories, as if anybody cares. If modern democracy was structured around voting for people you personally agree with, then Alleslev’s move would be perfectly justified. But modern democracy does not work like that. Instead, most vote against certain parties because they inherently disagree with that party’s platform. In all likelihood, those who elected Alleslev probably did not care about her personal views – rather, they still liked Trudeau more than the Tories and voted accordingly. Alleslev’s surprising move (unknown to members of her own party and office, but a certainly to their political opponents) invalidates her constituents in actively displaying that she could not care less for their contribution to putting her in a position of power.
Her indignation at the actions (or inaction) of the Liberals is understandable, and many people undoubtedly share her concerns. However, Alleslev is in one of the few positions to do something about it – and not by changing parties. If she really does feel so passionately about the economy and foreign policy, she would work to make a party she once believed in better. She would begin a discussion with her colleagues and open it to those on the other side of the floor to establish bipartisan initiatives. Instead, in fear that she would lose her seat in the House in an upcoming election because of sinking approval ratings, she jumped ship to a party that promised her power and freedom from compromise (evidenced by her would-be opponent Costas Menegakis dropping out of the riding and leaving the seat open for her to take.)
Crossing the floor is not unprecedented. In 2015, former Conservative MP Eve Adams joined the Liberals, and Belinda Stronach did the exact same thing in 2005. In fact, since 1867, over 200 MPs switched parties or abandoned them in favour to sit as an independent. A few even started their own. However, this is just further proof that our MPs do not actually care what people voted for them to do. Rather, they are so caught up in maintaining status and strengthening the party divide that they forget their jobs: to do what is best for Canadians. Unfortunately for them, sometimes this requires participating in civil debates and even occasionally compromising, but this rarely happens. The legality and frequency of crossing the floor, while also continuing to perpetuate a “they’re wrong and we’re right and never the two shall meet” mentality in federal politics, goes to show that elections were never really about the voters in the first place: they’re about manipulating constituents into supporting a party that does not care about them beyond their ballot.
Photo credit to CBC.ca