Leona’s Not Alone.

I would also like to walk away from Justin Trudeau for a while.

After yesterday’s surprise defection by then-Liberal, now-Conservative MP Leona Alleslev, there’s been no end to the discussion of whether her defection was based on opportunism or principle. In explaining why she left, she stated “…for me to publicly criticize the government as a Liberal would undermine the government and, according to my code of conduct, be dishonourable.” Maybe that’s why (at this point) I’m having trouble finding times she voted against the Liberal agenda, which would seem to be the most obvious way to voice your displeasure, instead of internal “attempts to raise concerns” that were “met with silence.”

Regardless, her views on the Liberal direction for Canada, under Justin Trudeau, were cause enough to walk away from him a year before the next federal election.

She’s not the only one that’s tempted.

Truth be told, had it not been for their support of Bill C-51, I would have voted for the Liberals in 2015. I was excited for their ideas of proportional representation replacing first-past-the-post voting. I appreciated their desire to walk the very fine line between environmental preservation and recognizing that we are a petro-based economy when others felt the need to go either-or. In light of what was going on south our border, a leader who openly preached diversity on all fronts was a welcome sight. Post-election, with neither Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer or NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh doing much to distinguish themselves as they took over their respective parties, Trudeau, by default, became “my guy”, even with my misgivings.

Three years later, the disappointments are evident. The voting reform talk was ditched as the government said there wasn’t the push for it, which seemed like carefully coded talk for “we have a majority, so we don’t need reform anymore.” The country’s biggest oil issue, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, has been a boondoggle, with the government having criticized the review mechanisms that brought the pipeline down, while both being in a position to change any faulty mechanism, and to do their due diligence with First Nations people to get it passed. The idealism regarding diversity remains in spite of innocent-yet-cringeworthy moments like the “peoplekind” incident, or justified-yet-clumsy moments like calling out a Quebecois protestor for racism. While no government is ever 100% successful, it hasn’t been great.

In all truth, it may have been impossible for somebody riding the high hopes of Trudeau to meet all expectations, especially since those hopes were likely pushed higher by the final few years of the Harper administration, but that was how we felt in 2015, and this is how we’re feeling now.

Not that the other options look super enticing. Scheer has been bland, unable to define his party as anything but anti-Trudeau and, after his recent backing of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause to cut Toronto City Council, seems more eager to be on a winning team than one defined by principles. Singh has been more interesting, but seems to be poised to follow the Andrea Horwath NDP model, serving as Liberal-lite until the election rolls around and they decide on a platform.

It can sometimes be the tendency of a party in power to “bubble” themselves and not recognize when things are falling apart around them. If you listen to Alleslev, it would seem the bubble was soundproofed against her criticisms. Hopefully, her defection leads to a pop, and leads to the Liberals looking at their direction headed into 2019.

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