Friday, January 24, 2014

A TRIP DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE: A PROCESS FOR CROSSING THE FLOOR

In 1990, I was the vice-president of the Fortune Hermitage Liberal Association and President of the Party's Youth Wing. The year prior, in the general election, Liberal Candidate Nathan Cutler lost to Tory Oliver Langdon.

Langdon had wanted to run as a Liberal but was unable to line-up the necessary support to beat Cutler who was the former superintendent of the local school board. He was a "star" candidate for the area. His son-in-law was also the President of the Burin-St. George's Federal Riding Association. 

Langdon was the more popular candidate. People liked him. Our campaign was a bit frustrated because workers were being told that he was going to cross the floor after the election, he ran as a tory to win the seat because he could not get the Liberal nomination.

In 1990, Langon resigned from the Progressive Conservative Caucus and sat as an independent. As President of the Youth Commission I wanted nothing to do with this old style of politics. I felt it was an unprincipled move. I made a public flap about the need for a process and a rod for my own ass.

Premier Clyde Wells did not automatically accept him. Instead, he established a process where Langdon had to prove he had the support of the voters/liberals in the district.

Nomination style meetings were arranged. The public were given an opportunity to vote. If a majority agreed, Wells would accept him into the Liberal Caucus. I would have preferred a by-election, but it was a principled compromise that gave legitimacy to Langdon's desire to be a Liberal member of the House of Assembly.

While combing through some old clippings, I found an old letter to the editor that I had submitted to the papers at the time.

Langdon went on to win the Liberal nomination in 1996 and served as a Liberal MHA and Cabinet Minister until he retired in 2007.

I believe that the Premier's approach, as Leader of the Liberal Party added a layer of accountability that needs to exist in order to ensure transparency, accountability and respect for the voters and members of the political party being requested accept the defector.



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