Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Shawn Graham's majority just got a little bit more comfortable. Tory MLAs Joan MacAlpine-Stiles and Wally Stiles have crossed the floor.

I am blown away by this I must admit. The couple, both first elected in 1999, were married as MLAs in 2005. Joan served in Lord's cabinet from the beginning to the end including in a lot of high profile roles. She was minister of municipalities (99-00), business (00-01), family and community services (01-03, 05), tourism (03-06) and status of women (06). Wally was government whip for much of Lord's term - both before and after Tanker had the job - as well as caucus chair at one time. He also served as chair of the only important standing committee chaired by the government - crown corporations - and as chair of the special committee on auto insurance before the 2003 election. I've always had a lot of time for Wally Stiles and thought he was far more qualified to enter cabinet than the 2003 additions of Wayne Steeves, Brenda Fowlie and Tony Huntjens.

I am surprised though to see this because floor crossings are pretty rare in New Brunswick. Other than people going to sit as independents, I think the last floor crossing was when Peter Trites went from the NDP to the Liberals in 1987.

I am also surprised because Wally represents one of the safest Conservative seats in New Brunswick. It was one of 3 seats to go PC in 1991 and was the seat the then PC leader Dennis Cochrane chose because he thought he could win it even with the party in shambles. It went to the Liberals in 1995 but only due to a huge vote split with CoR, the result was Lib 2398, CoR 1673, PC 1650. Perhaps the two are planning retirement? Wally is very popular Petitcodiac, but he'll have to work a lot harder to win as a Liberal and he certainly won't get the 69%, 61% and 65% he got in 1999, 2003 and 2006 respectively.

The Liberals have gone from having 1 of 4 Moncton seats in February to 3 of 4 in April and from 2 of 7 Greater Moncton seats to 5 of 7. Very huge shift.

One must wonder if MacAlpine-Stiles is heading to cabinet soon due to the shortage of both women and Monctonians in the cabinet. I would imagine Chris Collins is a littel depressed this morning. She would be a natural fit for Local Government as she was a long time Moncton city councillor and held the job under Lord in the early months of his government. Thus she could join the cabinet without a need for a shuffle. Finance Minister Victor Boudreau doubles as Local Government Minister and could just shed this portfolio for her.

I will be curious to see the reaction to a floor crossing however, a lot of folks are turned off by them, while I am of two minds.

I am also very curious to see how Stiles, who was one of the most vocal critics of Shawn Graham's leadership abilities before the last election, eats his crow.

UPDATE: FYI Spinks has a post up on this as well. The thrust of his arguement is a call for a by-election to allow the voters to "ratify" their decision to cross the floor.


Rob said...

You really shouldn't be surprised that Mr Stiles will feast on crow to sit in government again. People will do a lot to stay in the loop, including contradicting themselves.
If anything, this proves two things:

a) New Brunswick voters deserve the right to recall their elected officials.

and b) the PCs need to get rid of Jeannot Volpe as fast as they possibly can. Get a new leader elected, sweep the Bernard Lord years under the rug, and get going as a credible Opposition.

NBP, I certainly do not agree with you that Shawn Graham is doing well in government. However, I bet we can both agree a credible and effective Opposition will force him and the Liberal government to perform.

nbpolitico said...

rob - I definitely agree with your latter point. I thought from the beginning that Volpe would be a disasterous choice for interim leader.

Also, I would say that the Liberals have made a few mistakes and bad choices, though I do think that overall they are doing a good job. However, Volpe and his advisors are choosing to attempt to create sensation where there is no substance, rather than getting a substantive attack that will get a story on page 2, they are more interested in stetching the facts and making things up to get a story on page 1.

In ther short term, I guess page 1 stories are good, but in the long term you lose credibility and even if you find a smoking gun no one will take you seriously.

Andrew said...

Always thought Wally was a quack. I am in his riding and never like him. Good to see that he is supporting our tax hikes.

Anonymous said...

Joan MacAlpine was one of the most incompetent ministers in Lord government. God help us.

nbpolitico said...

Anon - I don't think she was by any means one of the best ministers in the history of New Brunswick, and probably not even a "good" minister.

But let us not exagerate and let's be relative.

Lord had a pretty weak cabinet, she was not among its worst.

Wayne Steeves, Milt Sherwood, Tony Huntjens, Brenda Fowlie, Margaret-Ann Blaney, Jody Carr to name a few were far less effective than her.

nuna d. above said...

So MacAlpine wants a few more years as a cabinet minister to have a better pension. This is why floor-crossers should have to resign and face the voters.

nbpolitico said...

Well we'll have to see whether or not she gets to be in cabinet. A lot of speculation that she will, but that remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

MacApine was the worst minister in Lord's cabinet. Wishy washy and useless. What were Liberals thinking to welcome a useless individual like her in their caucus.

Paul said...

I must be cynical in this instance. While I voted for the Conservatives in the last election, it was the result of having an unqualified candidate for the Liberls. The Liberal was elected
CHERYL LAVOIE and, in my opinion, has some major weaknesses.

I was not unhappy with the Graham government gaining power, because he has a stronger compliment of MLA's for the cabinet. On average, I think Shawn is doing a below average job, and alienating alot of folks outside the urban areas. Also think he is weak because he could stand up to Fiance Department when it came to campaign promisies. I am sure his handlers think different, but time will tell.

Switching teams, as this political couple did, smacks of opportunism, and a little too much like padding your own bank account and feeding their own egos.

Surprised that politicians are weakening our respect for our polticians and their convictions, no.

That there a couple of more people that lack self discipline and a real sense of service over self in Fredricton is, to say the least, disappointing.

paul said...

Correction....why you should look closer befor posting :-}
Should read

"Also think he is weak because he could NOT stand up to Fiance Department when it came to campaign promisies. I am sure his handlers think different, but time will tell."

Not stand up.

Anonymous said...

Insincerity is written all over Joan-MacAlpine Stiles and Wayne Stiles. For seven years they were devoted Conservatives. Never complained even once. Especially MacAlpine being minister all that time and now this. They just do not want to be in the opposition. Joan-MacAlpine was never a ministerial material and never will be. This will be a liability for Liberals.

I usually agree with NBPolitico’s opinions but on this one I beg to differ. Liberals must have not taken on this liability.

Dodger said...

I have to say that I agree neither of the defectors made much of a ripple on the political scene....thats not to say there were not others , in cabinet and not, who were also pretty ineficient. They will be no more useful on the other side of the house I suspect and anyone who believes there isn't something in it for them, possibly down the road (like appontments to some cushy boards prior to the next election, maybe????) just doesn't know how the game is played. There is ALWAYS something "in it" for politcal defectors....one way or other.
And one thing...MacAlpine provided the "quote of the year" when she said I can assure you, and when I give my word, you CANA TAKE IT TO THE BANK, that there has been no discsussion of anything for personal gain in this."
HER WORD?????????????????
Ask those people who have boted for her since 1999 what THEY think of her word. In my opinion, to make such a ridiculous statement while at AT THE SAME TIME proving that your word ISN"T much good, provides evidenece of her intelligence level.
Her and Shawn (and we mustn't forget "good old Wally") seem made for each other.

Anonymous said...

Her word??? I agree is not worth a piece of crap.

Dodger said...

OOps........look at my lousy typing errors. Sorry, folks.
But, yes, you sure CAN take MacAlpine's word to the bank!!!