Thoughts on Glenn Thibeault Running for Liberals

Like everyone else in the north, I was stunned by Glenn Thibeault's decision to quit the federal New Democrats and join Kathleen Wynne's Liberals.

It was only a few months ago that I was in Sudbury to celebrate Mr. Thibeault's nomination as the federal candidate for the New Democratic Party. Our leader Tom Mulcair was there, as was provincial leader Andrea Horwath.

I remember the excitement among the volunteers as Mr. Thibeault promised to represent the NDP vision in the coming election.

Now, a few months later, Mr. Thibeault tells us he has found a supposedly better offer. Unfortunately, he didn't have the decency to let his colleagues or the people of Sudbury know first; we had to learn about his defection to the provincial Liberals from an article in the Toronto Star.

The news came as I was meeting with unemployed mill workers from Iroquois Falls. These men and their families are facing bleak and tough choices.

It was bitter irony to know they are losing their jobs as a direct result of failed Liberal hydro and resource policies. Over the past number of years, I have seen too many victims of this lack of vision for the north, from the shutdown of the Ontario Northland Railway to the loss of jobs at mills in Smooth Rock Falls, Xstrata Timmins and Iroquois Falls. Nobody is offering these families a cushy insider's job.

Mr. Thibeault's decision speaks to a cynicism that is choking Canadian politics. Some politicians seem to forget they were elected, not on their personality, but because a lot of ordinary people did the hard work of putting up signs, working the phones and knocking on doors. These people volunteer because they believe the candidate will represent the vision of the party.

I am very sorry that Mr. Thibeault decided that a backroom deal with insiders trumps this covenant. It sends a message that you can't trust the promises of politicians. I spent my political life fighting this cynicism. The reason I joined the NDP is because I believe the "best offer" a politician can have is to stand up for the ordinary people of this country who are not being represented by insiders and the well-connected. This was the vision I shared with Jack Layton and it is why I'll work with Tom Mulcair to elect the New Democrats to government in 2015. I am only sorry it is no longer the vision of Glenn Thibeault.