‘I will not get down on my knees’: NDP MP quits party to join Bloc Quebecois

this article appeared at http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/28/i-will-not-get-down-on-my-knees-ndp-mp-quits-party-to-join-bloc-quebecois/

February 28, 2013

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper took pains to rub salt in the wounds of his New Democrat rivals Thursday after a member of the official Opposition bolted the party to join the Bloc Quebecois.

MP Claude Patry shakes hands with then-NDP Leader Jack Layton in 2011. Patry, a member of Canada’s NDP opposition, has bolted the party in order to join the Bloc Quebecois. Sean Kirkpatrick CP

By crossing the floor to the languishing Bloc, Claude Patry abruptly became the fifth member of the pro-independence party in the House of Commons.

The defection is a badly needed morale boost for the Bloc, which was crushed by the NDP in the last election and has been perceived to be on political life support.

And despite the fact no one asked him to comment on the move, Harper nonetheless seized the opportunity to score some political points.

“This is an issue that has concerned us for some time, and does concern us: the ambiguity on Canadian unity that we have among some members of the NDP caucus in Quebec,” he said.

Harper said the NDP has “many, many links” to the sovereigntist Quebec solidaire — a “very strong” provincial party which currently holds two seats in the province’s national assembly.

“This phenomenon with ’Bloc orange,’ I think, should give everyone considerable pause, and I think what has happened today is really another example of this particular problem.”

For his part, Patry — the MP for Jonquiere-Alma in Quebec’s Saguenay region — told a news conference Thursday that he no longer feels comfortable in the NDP.

“Some things in life are non-negotiable,” Patry said.

He said that when he sees New Democrats talk about the federal Clarity Act, he doesn’t feel at home in the party.

He used a turn of phrase that is common in Quebec politics, to refer to politicians who are perceived to put the interests of Canada before Quebec’s: “I will not get down on my knees,” Patry said.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair insisted that there’s no ambiguity within his party’s caucus, and urged Patry to step down and run in a byelection.

Patry’s former NDP colleagues were less than impressed Thursday with his defection, echoing Mulcair’s call to step down.

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