Does the Federal NDP caucus really need the "no floor crossers" rule?

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
Does the Federal NDP caucus really need the "no floor crossers" rule?

If I'm guessing right, the "no accepting floor-crossers" rule-and as I understand it, it is only a caucus rule, not formal party policy-was instituted in response to former CCF leader Hazen Argue's treacherous act, at a time when the party only had about nine seats, of defecting to the Liberals after the NDP refused to elect Argue as leader, even though what Argue did was to cross the floor away from the party. 

(btw if anybody knows of another explanation for this rule, please share it here).

At this stage, what is the point of keeping this particular rule?  

 

It's not as if the rule has done anything to stop sitting NDP MPs from defecting to other parties.  It's not something most voters know or care about.  If anything, the rule is comparable to the NDP pledge to abolish the Senate or the Australian Labor Party commitment to replace the British monarch as head of state with an elected but powerless president-something that sounds virtuous but is, in practice meaningless-Australians while never ditch the House of Windsor, the Senate will never approve a measure that puts itself out of existence, neither of those changes would make any real difference in the lives of ordinary voters, and it does nothing for the cause of progressive, transformative change to turn away MPs from other parties who have been won over by the NDP's message.  It's worse than gesture politics, because the gesture is not only meaningless, but invisible-like giving someone the finger with the lights off.

If the issue is accountability to the voters, why wouldn't it be enough to set up a rule that floor crossers must seek an NDP nomination within six months of crossing, and must stand down at the next election if the fail to gain a nomination?

Also, how is it that, with the supposed floor-crossing ban in place, Robert Toupin, who'd been elected as a PC MP from Quebec, was allowed to sit as an NDP member at one point in the Eighties(granted the guy didn't stay long, but he was technically the first Quebec NDP MP for a year or so)?  

 

 

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

Ken Burch wrote:

If I'm guessing right, the "no accepting floor-crossers" rule-and as I understand it, it is only a caucus rule, not formal party policy-was instituted in response to former CCF leader Hazen Argue's treacherous act, at a time when the party only had about nine seats, of defecting to the Liberals after the NDP refused to elect Argue as leader, even though what Argue did was to cross the floor away from the party. 

(btw if anybody knows of another explanation for this rule, please share it here).

At this stage, what is the point of keeping this particular rule?  

 

It's not as if the rule has done anything to stop sitting NDP MPs from defecting to other parties.  It's not something most voters know or care about.  If anything, the rule is comparable to the NDP pledge to abolish the Senate or the Australian Labor Party commitment to replace the British monarch as head of state with an elected but powerless president-something that sounds virtuous but is, in practice meaningless-Australians while never ditch the House of Windsor, the Senate will never approve a measure that puts itself out of existence, neither of those changes would make any real difference in the lives of ordinary voters, and it does nothing for the cause of progressive, transformative change to turn away MPs from other parties who have been won over by the NDP's message.  It's worse than gesture politics, because the gesture is not only meaningless, but invisible-like giving someone the finger with the lights off.

If the issue is accountability to the voters, why wouldn't it be enough to set up a rule that floor crossers must seek an NDP nomination within six months of crossing, and must stand down at the next election if the fail to gain a nomination?

Also, how is it that, with the supposed floor-crossing ban in place, Robert Toupin, who'd been elected as a PC MP from Quebec, was allowed to sit as an NDP member at one point in the Eighties(granted the guy didn't stay long, but he was technically the first Quebec NDP MP for a year or so)?  

 

 

 

 

I do not think this rule was in place in the 80s. I thought it came around the time Emerson was elected as a Liberal and went the Harper government in early 2006 with an inducement of a job in cabinet after Stronach crossed the floor to the Liberals 2005. The result was a wave of anger in the public.

Please bear with me as I want to mke the case for party identification as the most important predictor of voting choice and why people are insensed about switchers. The NDP is responding to this.

This is understandable as I think the majority vote on party lines.

I think people here are close political watchers and know more about candidates and policies than the average voter. Most voters during an eleciton really look at the party leaders and platforms slightly and individual candidates even less -- When I was young many used to inquire who their party candidate was just before voting until Elections Canada made it easier and put the affiliation on the ballot. I suspect they even voters interpret the leaders based on the party (in many cases I think voters accept from their chosen party leader what they would not from the other party leaders). Politics is very tribal.

Many observers consider that before an election campaign the majority of votes are in the bag for a party. In first past the post a small number of people switching create a winner take all effect suggesting that there has been greater movement than there really has been even if the decision is made by only about 5% switching on average (see below baseline in all major parties comes to little less than 3/4 over the last 5 federal general elections.

There are also the occasional convulsions when parties change -- like the BQ coming in and going out, the Right being broken and unified, the rise of Layton (some but not all of these happened in the last 5 elections). This affects party loyalty and is observed by many. But mostly people follow their party. Saves time. It is one of the most reliable indicators about the acceptability of a Candidate to most voters. It is shorthand for a political philosophy and outlook and whether the person is on their side. Big scandals rock parties and create waves of change usually by creating a net move of something in the 5% range. Generation change also does this more gradually as new people vote and others die.

We like to think here that this is not the case and that it does not affect us. But it does and it is not a bad thing. I ask you though -- how many people here really have switched parties ever since they have been here? They have gone through leaders and campaigns, but how many actually change parties? Not many. And here people are willing to take the time to follow politics.

I have said this before the polls do not guage real support -- they measure enthusiasm. When enthusiastic people will want to take the time to support a party by talking to a pollster. when not enthusiastic they don't bother. Polls going up and down -- when the vast majority refuse to answer a pollster exaggerate real change in opinion. Many sit on the fence and ponder but at election come back to the party they most trust.

Over 5 elections in the last 20 years since the right was united and the NDP came back from the bottom the total difference -- not in one election but over five has not been that great consider each party at their lowest:

Conservative: 29.63 Liberal: 18.91 NDP 15.68 BQ 4.66 GR 3.45 = 72.33% --

Nearly 3/4 if you consider all parties at their minimums and it has not been like there have been no huge waves!

Consider them at their highest:

Conservative: 39.62 Liberal: 39.4 NDP 30.63 BQ 12.39 GR 6.78

Difference:

Conservative: 9.99 Liberal: 20.49 NDP 14.95 BQ 7.73 GR 3.33 = sum of differences all together 56.49

When you consider that the Liberal and BQ parties were being spoken of as potentially disapearing, this is still a small set of numbers put together it adds up to only 56% on 5 elections. This is misleading since many are the same people switching multiple times and are added up, potentially double counted each time in this (a switch is an addition AND a substraction).

In other words -- party loyalty is the best predictor of how a person will vote ahead of leader. Candidate only figures in a very rare number of cases. People will usually vote their party, even if they do not like their candidate all that much.

People here may say that this is lazy voters but in fact it is realistic. Consider how often MPs will vote with their party. I wish I had the stats but I think it is well more than 90% of the time. The Globe wrote in 2013 that party loyalty in Canada may be the strictest in the world:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/is-canadas-party-disciplin...

Consider as well how often the parties vote on their reliable main ideologies and political philosophy as follows -- either for or at least not against:

Conservatives for tight money and reduced spending on social programs and increases on military and reductions in tax for the well off.

The NDP on support for people, extending social programs, tax on the better off

Greens for the environment

BQ in favour of Quebec interests, and whatever is popular in Quebec at the time

Liberals mostly moderate moving by whatever they think is popular in Canada at the time

Consider the Liberals and Conservatives and why they lose federal elections: Liberals lose due to scandal and arrogance, and at times becuase they are moving too slowly almost never becuase they leave an ideology of what is popular.

Conservatives rise and fall based on how popular the restrictive money policies they champion is at the time -- and based on whether the Liberals are in trouble due to scandal.

We talk of other issues but these are present. Dion was hapless but his green shift was extremely unpopular for example.

There is another dynamic: party leaders tend to champion their cause predictably and their cause may be more or less popular in part due to their ability to sell it. In this sense the party ideology is still the driver but the leader influences its popularity by communicating it well or not. In this case people are not liking their leaders and voting due to that but voting for theparty with a  leader, likable or not, who sells the party ideology best. This explains why the NDP can have the most popular leader but not win and the Conservatives could win with a cold fish who still communicates the party ideology effectively. People frequently tell pollsters that they like another leader but will vote for their party nonetheless. In any event, the leadership is part of the identification of a party in any election more than the canddiate.

The most telling infomration about a canddiate for MP is their party affiliation. If I were to speak about a canddiate and withhold the party affiliation most would not be able to decide if they would vote for that person and in fact be angry as I was holding back this critical information. Of course we elect independents - not even once in a blue moon. Not even 1% of the time. Indepdents happen most often when people elected under one banner leave it.

The NDP know switchers are not popular: usually they lose in the next election. They are also more likely to go to the most popular party (the government or opposition when it has become more popular than the government). The NDP is the safest party in rejecting crossers and  frowning on those who cross since the party is more likely to lose than gain crossers. Often crossers are doing this for ambitions that the NDP cannot satisfy and the NDP is not a strong enough party to be able to allow a crosser a reasonable chance at re-election. NDP supporters are the most likely to reject a person who is not a real NDP person anyway.

 

JKR

The NDP used the “no floor crossing rule” to gain political ground against the Conservatives and Liberals so the point of still keeping this rule is to avoid being seen as being a bunch of blindly partisan hypocrites who cannot be trusted on issues that the party claims to be important. I think most NDP MP’s think the no crossing rule is ultimately counterproductive but they feel they’re stuck with it for now. Partisan politics seems to have its own idiotic momentum!

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:

The NDP used the “no floor crossing rule” to gain political ground against the Conservatives and Liberals so the point of still keeping this rule is to avoid being seen as being a bunch of blindly partisan hypocrites who cannot be trusted on issues that the party claims to be important. I think most NDP MP’s think the no crossing rule is ultimately counterproductive but they feel they’re stuck with it for now. Partisan politics seems to have its own idiotic momentum!

 

Perhaps but I think the public still consider this a good stand because the public does vote based on affiliation as much as individual MPs feel insulted by that fact.

It is a good principle to have and does not preclude being an independent or even cooperating with other parties. Just not joining them before an election.

JKR

I guess what a lot of people are thinking now is that two certain Liberals might have considered crossing over to the NDP if the NDP did not have a “no crossing rule.” 

[The “no-crossing rule” sounds like it could have been an anti-Christian rule made by Roman Emperor Nero]

NorthReport

As long as we have party politics the NDP's no-crossing the floor rule is the principled and proper approach. If, and it is a very big if, Puglaas and Philcott wants to join the NDP, there are appropriate procedures in place for that to happen. And of course, as we have already seen, these two women, want a principled approach to politics. And, once again it is a huge if (as I do not believe it will happen), they are booted out of the Liberal Caucus, what makes anyone think they might not want to join a Party that already has a woman as leader, the Greens. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that when the Liberals do crash and burn, it will be the Greens that will benefit the most from the process.

WWWTT

This no floor crossing rule with the no senate rules are easily to explain and easier for the NDP to drop under the right conditions 

Both are sour grapes. I’m sure it’s happened before, but probably not often. So the NDP at one time, probably figured the only way to capitalize on floor crossings was to make some kind of gesture to voters that the NDP has greater integrity to make distinction from the cons and libs. If there was several crossers jumping ship onto the NDP every election cycle, especially early after the election, the NDP would find reason to change policy. 

Same goes for the senate. If the NDP form government federally and had to start appointing senators, they would find reasons to change policy. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

JKR wrote:

I guess what a lot of people are thinking now is that two certain Liberals might have considered crossing over to the NDP if the NDP did not have a “no crossing rule.” 

[The “no-crossing rule” sounds like it could have been an anti-Christian rule made by Roman Emperor Nero]

Nero would have had a "no drawing little fishies on the wall" rule, I think.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

WWWTT wrote:

This no floor crossing rule with the no senate rules are easily to explain and easier for the NDP to drop under the right conditions 

Both are sour grapes. I’m sure it’s happened before, but probably not often. So the NDP at one time, probably figured the only way to capitalize on floor crossings was to make some kind of gesture to voters that the NDP has greater integrity to make distinction from the cons and libs. If there was several crossers jumping ship onto the NDP every election cycle, especially early after the election, the NDP would find reason to change policy. 

Same goes for the senate. If the NDP form government federally and had to start appointing senators, they would find reasons to change policy. 

There's also the inherent absurdity, with Senate abolition, of getting a legislative chamber to agree to vote for its own demise, as you'd have to have in that situation.  The stance gives the appearance of systemic change without causing anything to change at all.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

As to the two Liberals we're talking about, I doubt they'd cross to the NDP anyway.  Philpott would have to find an entirely different riding, and, after years where she's probably made tons of snide, dismissive anti-NDP and anti-Left comments, what NDP riding association would even take her?

WWWTT

There’s also the possibility that these two liberal MPs would go conservative. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that if they were to find themselves no longer welcome in the liberal caucus, still wanting to be in a political party as a sitting mp, and the conservatives polling ahead of the liberals and NDP, they would be secretly talking with Scheer. Crossing the floor to the conservatives would be their best chance of getting back into cabinet. 

Historically, the odds are with this move. 

JKR

Ken Burch wrote:

JKR wrote:

I guess what a lot of people are thinking now is that two certain Liberals might have considered crossing over to the NDP if the NDP did not have a “no crossing rule.” 

[The “no-crossing rule” sounds like it could have been an anti-Christian rule made by Roman Emperor Nero]

Nero would have had a "no drawing little fishies on the wall" rule, I think.

I considered that but I didn’t let that get in the way of my feeble attempt at humour.  Does Canada have a national fish? I’d suggest the Pickeral.

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

JKR wrote:

I guess what a lot of people are thinking now is that two certain Liberals might have considered crossing over to the NDP if the NDP did not have a “no crossing rule.” 

[The “no-crossing rule” sounds like it could have been an anti-Christian rule made by Roman Emperor Nero]

Nero would have had a "no drawing little fishies on the wall" rule, I think.

I considered that but I didn’t let that get in the way of my feeble attempt at humour.  Does Canada have a national fish? I’d suggest the Pickeral.

The asian carp: it comes up from the US, it is made in China, it eats everything and sucks for the environment.

JKR

The Asian Carp it is!

wage zombie

NorthReport wrote:

And, once again it is a huge if (as I do not believe it will happen), they are booted out of the Liberal Caucus, what makes anyone think they might not want to join a Party that already has a woman as leader, the Greens. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that when the Liberals do crash and burn, it will be the Greens that will benefit the most from the process.

If JWR went Green she'd be leader-in-waiting of a federal party.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Aren't there already a couple of bash Asia threads going.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-40341833

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Aren't there already a couple of bash Asia threads going.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-40341833

 

 

Should we have a demonization of the Asian Carp thread now?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

No, just continue on with thinly veiled racist humour.

WWWTT

JKR wrote 

Does Canada have a national fish? I’d suggest the Pickeral.

I believe that the proper term you’re looking for is yellow walleye. 

http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-walleye-and-pickerel/

WWWTT

Sean in Ottawa wrote 

Should we have a demonization of the Asian Carp thread now?

Ok no problem. I’ll start the thread, and then you can make comments bashing how I worded the thread title. Sound good to you?

JKR

WWWTT wrote:

JKR wrote 

Does Canada have a national fish? I’d suggest the Pickeral.

I believe that the proper term you’re looking for is yellow walleye. 

http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-walleye-and-pickerel/

I remember pickerel was popular in Winnipeg so I thought it would be a good compromise between east and west.

JKR

WWWTT wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote 

Should we have a demonization of the Asian Carp thread now?

—————————————————————-

Ok no problem. I’ll start the thread, and then you can make comments bashing how I worded the thread title. Sound good to you?

Is the ICM pro or anti Asian Carp?

WWWTT

Ya it’s also a popular in southern Ontario. But it’s really a wrong term now because there are different species with different names and the Ontario ministry of natural resources is sticking with yellow walleye as the official name I believe. 

All off topic but here’s a link

http://northernwilds.com/pickerel-vs-walleye-setting-the-record-straight/

JKR

As usual Canada will have to go along with a decision made in Ontario ;)  Maybe floor crossings should only be allowed when they involve MP’s from Ontario?

WWWTT

JKR wrote:

WWWTT wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote 

Should we have a demonization of the Asian Carp thread now?

—————————————————————-

Ok no problem. I’ll start the thread, and then you can make comments bashing how I worded the thread title. Sound good to you?

Is the ICM pro or anti Asian Carp?

lol! I don’t think the icm gives a ratts ass about another invasive species. I think it’s more of an angler thing. 

But all carp are invasive, not just the Asian. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

"Invasive species" is the plant and animal version of "dirty foreigner" -- Zebra mussels are just here looking for a better life!

Discuss.

WWWTT

I don’t want to piss off Ken Burch and drift his thread into something else so I started the invasive species thread as suggested by Mr Magoo thanks

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

"Invasive species" is the plant and animal version of "dirty foreigner" -- Zebra mussels are just here looking for a better life!

Discuss.

LOL

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

WWWTT wrote:

I don’t want to piss off Ken Burch and drift his thread into something else so I started the invasive species thread as suggested by Mr Magoo thanks

Thank you, WWWTT.  And you wouldn't have pissed me off-it's just that I'd be puzzled that people would want to derail a thread about a perfectly legitimate and valid question.

 

WWWTT

Perfectly valid and a long time one at that! So I'm in agreement.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

No, just continue on with thinly veiled racist humour.

I think you do damage to your cause by calling just about anything racist.

That consumer goods in Canada are not made here but in China is not racist humour. Nor is observing that the Asian carp is an invasive species and a threat to the environment in any way racist.

I wonder if you are able to tell what is racist from what is not ever. By calling every mention racist I would imagine that like a stopped clock you will get it right often given the amount of racism that exists. You will also tar people while trivialising actual racism. Not sure you give a shit.

Sean in Ottawa

Ken Burch wrote:

WWWTT wrote:

I don’t want to piss off Ken Burch and drift his thread into something else so I started the invasive species thread as suggested by Mr Magoo thanks

Thank you, WWWTT.  And you wouldn't have pissed me off-it's just that I'd be puzzled that people would want to derail a thread about a perfectly legitimate and valid question.

 

I think that there is room in the thread for both comment directions. I do not think much of the opportunistic suggestion and the NDP's purpose in not allowing floor crossings is just as valid as it was when it was more convenient.

Unionist

The reason the NDP condemned floor crossing is because no one crosses the floor to the NDP.

Sean in Ottawa

Interesting about the interview with Philpott and Wilson Raybould is that neither of them ruled in or out running again and then neither ruled out running for another party.

From the NDP's point of view crossing the floor is not the issue for either to become candidates for the NDP should they choose to try. I believe Gregory Hines is the NDP candidate for Markham so Philpott would have to find a different riding. Vancouver Granville does not have an NDP candidate. The issue of the no floor crossing rule is about their standing for the next few months. There is no urgency for them to caucus with the NDP for this short time.

It is not clear if the NDP would welcome either of these Liberals or if they would win a nomination -- even if they were interested. I suspect that it is not impossible as neither of these are long standing active Liberals and both went into politics only 4 years ago. It is not impossible to see that they joined the wrong party. None of this supposes what the New Democratic Members in the prospective ridings (not Markham) would feel about their quality as NDP candidates given what they may have supported as Liberals -- or any presumption that the ridings might not select candidates NDP Members believe are better. Still, it is possible that the NDP may consider both of them progressive enough AND candidates that could flip ridings the NDP might otherwise not have a chance in.

It would not go unnoticed that they are both strong women at a time when there is considerable need to balance the gender of candidates. They both have cabinet experience. One is a medical expert and the other a legal one. There are lots of reasons to be concerned but lots to be attracted to in this context. It is certain that Philpott, if the NDP is interested in her at all, will be required to explain her positions in detail on pharmacare. Did she step away from it due to the priorities of her government and could she embrace it now? It would be a deal breaker. Wilson Raybould would also have to explain positions she has supported, however, it is much easier to welcome her given a likely compatibility on reconciliation.

Without changing any of the NDP rules on floor crossing, there is a lot for them to discuss with Singh.

For the NDP in V-G this is a riding the NDP has not recently held high, realistic, hopes for -- delivery of the riding on a plate given the popularity of Jody Wilson Raybould could be tempting. I am not sure what kind of personal popularity Philpott has but it is not inconsiderable and potentially could flip a Toronto riding. The NDP would also consider each of these women on the basis of how progressive they really are. I think the main questions will be their potential as good NDP Candidates based on their political philosophy. They may argue that at the time they ran for the Liberals, that party sounded to them to be the more progressive. Whether the NDP wants to accept that or not is another matter.

Interesting speculation. I think the possibility of interest by them is real given that both want to be in politics. I think the NDP will be concerned that they really are Liberals wanting a new leadership and the NDP might not want to deliver a campsite. However, federal politics is not a given and both could move to provincial politics.

With the different alignments in federal-provincial politics, either of them could find a path that could leave them well occupied waiting for the end of the Trudeau era at the federal level. For Wilson Raybould, the provincial NDP has a lot to offer since they are in power adn a move in the future to the federal Liberals from the provincial NDP is not very difficult. With the Conservatives in power in Ontario, the option for Philpott may seem less clear but if there is a sense that the Conservatives could be a one-term wonder, the provincial Liberals have a lot of openings and hope. Philpott, if she wanted to become Liberal leader could possibly say the word and become the frontrunner. Health is a provincial jurisdiction. This is not a bad fit for her. She could aslo speak to the provincial NDP if she wanted to change parties provincially. Neither have great French so would be able to operate at the provincial level more easily. Philpott's stilted French is enough for Liberal leader in Ontario.

Pondering

They might be willing to run again federally as independents because I think they need 8 years to qualify for that sweet pension but even so I doubt it would be enough to tempt them. They won't be satisfied as backbenchers. Both will aim for higher things.