With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Ontario's New Democratic Party has been dealt a blow after a prominent community activist and former supporter of Andrea Horwath announced she is jumping ship to run for the Liberals in the party leader's own Hamilton Centre riding.
Deirdre Pike, a senior planner with the Hamilton Social Planning and Research Council and Hamilton Spectator freelance columnist, announced her surprise intentions this weekend in her final column with the paper.
The 55-year-old LGBTQ and social justice advocate said she was swayed by the Liberals' work on anti-poverty initiatives, specifically around minimum wage – a file the left-wing NDP has been criticized for not championing.
She says the response has been largely supportive, but acknowledges that there has also been criticism from former peers in the NDP camp who see the move as a betrayal.
"I am hoping that the folks who will be disappointed in me for sure, who will see me as leaving their camp, will at least see me as a … worthy opponent and someone with good intentions," she said Monday.
She wrote in an op-ed
I have stood beside Andrea in solidarity at many rallies over the years as we were on the same side of so many issues. Now our paths have diverged. Her silence on poverty is disheartening. In 2014, an election was triggered because Andrea led her party to vote against a Liberal budget, in part, in protest of the $14 minimum wage.
That same year, longtime Ontario NDP members including Michele Landsberg, partner of former ONDP party leader Stephen Lewis, and Toronto public health nurse and former NDP candidate Cathy Crowe were among many signatories to a letter to Andrea which stated, "If the NDP does not stand with working people, poor people, with women, with immigrants, then what does it stand for? We urge you to change course."
That course didn't change so I am. I have been pushing Premier Wynne and her party from the outside to move on a fairer agenda for all Ontarians and she has listened. Now is the time for me to try to join her to do that work from the inside.