A new tyke will sit at the kids table from now on. As of this week, Former Bloc Québécois MP Jean-François Fortin and serendipitously named NDP defect Jean-François Larose have formed a new political party that seats both of them in the House of Commons. Its name: Forces et Démocratie, or, for us dumb-dumbs, Google Translated to “Forces and Democracy.”
In a statement issued last week, Fortin says the new party will not muzzle its MPs for wanting to represent their citizens. Instead it will “promote collaboration instead of confrontation.” Fortin also advocates against centralizing power in Ottawa, explaining that politicians have a duty to strengthen their communities so people have an alternative to the “mediocre development projects” currently implemented elsewhere. All this considered, the overarching sentiment expressed by Fortin is his promise that the new party will “refuse to play by the rules.” Yes, a loose-cannon party. Because that’s the one thing we need to spice up the House of Commons, which contains the most mundane, even-tempered group of people around.
As of yet, the party remains “Quebec only.” They do not have a properly translated English name or an English website, and, as far as I can tell, the party is exclusive to those named Jean-François. In his statement, Fortin explained that all regions of Quebec, including the Greater Montreal Area, feel “forgotten, overlooked, or even clearly despised” by the federal government. A spokesperson for Fortin described the party as “not a sovereigntist party, but it […] a nationalist party.”
Larose’s defection garnered a stern reply from the NDP. MP Robert Aubin, who chairs the party’s Quebec caucus stated, “This is a clear-cut act of disloyalty and betrayal of the memory of Jack Layton, along with the democratic choice of Repentigny voters.” While the FD don’t yet have enough seats to be recognized as a political party in parliamentary proceedings—the minimum being 12—the party is confident more traitors and renegades will join their ranks, hoping to one day become part of the band of pirates bamboozling the Canadian parliament.
Fortin’s spokesman also says he is meeting some prominent Quebecers who are considering endorsing the party. The NDP have further questioned the FDs validity, explaining that they, previous to this debacle, had voted unanimously on a bill that forces defectors to step down before attempting to be elected under another party banner. “Larose voted for this bill. Therefore, I would ask that he demonstrate that he is a man of principle and immediately step down in order to force a by-election in Repentigny,” added Quebec caucus vice-Chair Élaine Michaud.
As for the Bloc, the FD may prove to be a more impressive opponent than people think. The Bloc has been trying to hold onto their ever-waning presence in Quebec ever since the increasingly unpopular Mario Beaulieu became the party’s leader last spring. Two caucus members have already left under his leadership, which means the FD is catching up in terms of numbers.
While Pierre Martin, an expert on Quebec politics from the Université de Montréal, says the FD isn’t something to be taken seriously, I see this as an ushering in of a new era in Canadian politics, or, better yet, an ushering in of more content for The True North Times. So here’s to the Forces et Démocratie and the Jean-François for making my work a little bit easier.