The Canadian House of Commons is (kinda) short an independent MP. Although she refuses to cross the floor, former Bloc Quebecois and currently Independent MP for Ahuntsic, Maria Mourani has signed an NDP membership card (and, potentially, her political death warrant).
Mourani is pleased to find a new family with the NDP. After opposing the proposed Charter of Quebec Values last year, she had been regulated to the back benches along with other MPs who crossed their party leaders. Abiding by the party’s rules concerning floor crossing, she won’t become a part of the NDP caucus, but she plans to run for them in the next federal election.
Whether she will run for the NDP in her current riding of Ahuntsic is uncertain. Before Mourani’s electoral breakthrough in 2006, the riding had been held by Liberals for all but the 10 years between 1968 and 2006. Although the NDP came second in the riding in 2011—well ahead of the Liberals—it was the first time the party had reached such support in Ahuntsic since 1968. Usually, the NDP was regulated to fourth place (behind even the Conservatives). Mourani would be in for an uphill fight.
Her riding is also immediately north of Papineau, which is Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s riding. His riding is to the immediate north of Outremont, Tom Mulcair’s riding. Were Mourani to cross the floor, it would sandwich Liberal red between two slices of NDP orange. Her decision not to cross the floor and her indecision about where to run next time keeps it a grey area. The grey area is tinted blue by the fact that she was a member of a separatist party and ran for the leadership of said party after the fall of Gilles Duceppe.
Mourani confessed that there was a chance of her turning red. Shortly after she quit the Bloc, high-ranking Liberals approached her to test the waters. She turned them down, saying she wasn’t comfortable with the party: “I felt like there is no leader in this party. So for me, a party, we need policies, we need values and we need a leader. There is a leader but he’s not a leader who leads.”
As someone who hasn’t had a leader in the House since before the 2011 election, she would know what a leader is. She’s had an awful lot of time to think for herself—some politicians would say too much time. Her conclusion that MPs need to be led may endorse MPs acting like trained seals, a tactic the Conservatives have been charged with as of late. Her accusation that Justin Trudeau is not really a leader who leads runs counter to the growing number of Canadians who believe that he is—or, if he isn’t, at least the party is. Sadly, Mourani adheres to the belief that we only vote for a party leader rather than individual MPs. It’s a common mistake.
Trudeau, when questioned about Mourani, said she approached the party about running in the next election and they referred her to their open nomination contests, a process which has hit some snags. He told CBC he never spoke to her personally, which means his charm didn’t have the chance to win her over.
Whatever the case may be, Mourani’s sovereigntist past could be troublesome for any campaign she launches. Even though she was kicked out of the Bloc caucus and has denounced sovereignty, federalists of any party may be less than keen to give her their vote. Outside Quebec, she could alienate Canadians from the NDP. Floor crossings to the Bloc and to the new FD—a “nationalist,” Quebec-centric party—haven’t sat well with the ROC (Rest Of Canada). Mourani’s quasi support for the NDP (holding a membership, but not joining caucus) could further raise eyebrows along with her decision to be parachuted into a different riding for 2015.