Long-time Progressive Conservative MLA Bev Harrison invoked the memory of former British prime minister Winston Churchill as he confirmed on Friday that he will run for the NDP in the next provincial election.

Bev Harrison

Long-time Tory MLA Bev Harrison announced on Friday he would run for the NDP in the Sept. 22 election. (CBC)

​Harrison appeared with NDP Leader Dominic Cardy at a news conference on Friday to confirm that he will run for the NDP in the Sept. 22 election.

Harrison pointed out that Churchill also switched parties during his political career.

"I will be seeking election in a new riding under the banner of a new party. After all Winston Churchill changed political affiliation twice," he said.

Harrison said he feels at home in the NDP despite his decades of service to the Progressive Conservatives.

"The reason I chose to be part of the New Democratic team, begins with a mutual respect that Dominic Cardy and I share," Harrison said.

"We have had a number of opportunities to meet, discuss and agree on the direction for a new way to govern. We have mutual respect for our democratic principles and practices. We agree with better governance mechanisms and electoral reform."

Cardy and Harrison said they had been talking for several months. Cardy said he was pleased to have someone with Harrison’s experience join the NDP.

Chris Rendell

Chris Rendell, the previously announced candidate for the NDP's nomination in Hampton, had his approval revoked. (CBC)

Harrison was first elected as a Tory MLA in 1978 and was defeated in 1987. Harrison won his seat again in 1999 and continues to serve in the legislature.

Harrison was the legislature’s Speaker from 1999 to 2006 and then briefly served as a cabinet minister. Premier David Alward did not add Harrison to his cabinet after the Tories formed government in 2010.

The NDP has also recruited former Liberal MLA Abel LeBlanc to run for the party in Saint John-Lancaster.

Hampton NDP in controversy

The NDP’s riding of Hampton is in tumult with resignations, allegations of heavy-handed politics and party switching.

Pat Hanratty

Pat Hanratty, a former president of the NDP, said on Facebook he was leaving the party. (CBC)

Pat Hanratty, the riding association’s president and a former president of the provincial party, resigned this week and posted on Facebook that he was quitting the "Un democratic party", adding, "I'll be back when the reign of terror is over."

And the riding’s previously announced candidate for nomination, Chris Rendell, has had his approval revoked suddenly.

Rendell said the party is pushing him aside in favour of Harrison.

"What's really going on is a cut-throat vicious group of people in Fredericton who are willing to do whatever it takes to clear the way,” he said.

Rendell said Cardy is trying to move the NDP sharply to the right. Cardy has faced similar criticism by others that he is shifting the party away from its traditional policies.

​Rendell served on the Hampton riding association and the NDP's general council. His nomination was approved by party leadership in Fredericton and then abruptly withdrawn.

He said NDP officials showed him a Facebook page where Rendell clicked “like” to a post supporting Green Party Leader David Coon.

The Facebook comment was made by Hugh Duncan Brown, who said: “Thank you, David Coon. This is how to fight for the people of New Brunswick. You have my vote as long as you don't have any posters of war criminals on your office wall.”

Rendell and seven other people clicked, “Like,” under the Facebook post.

The party cites Rendell’s Facebook "Like" as the reason why he is no longer a party candidate.

 “I can tell you that the decision to not disqualify Chris was genuine until days ago when the liking of the offensive post was noticed. The fact is if Chris had not liked that post on June 21, he would still be eligible as a candidate right now despite whatever interest in running arose from any other person,” according to Tony Sekulich, the director of communications for the NDP.

Rendell said the NDP is searching for a “victory at any cost” in the Sept. 22 election

“I disagree with that fundamentally,” he said.

The last Corporate Research Associates political poll showed the NDP in third position, behind the Liberals and the Tories.

Corrections

  • Chris Rendell was not the official candidate for the NDP in Hampton as stated in a previous version of this story. He was a declared candidate for the nomination in the riding.
    Jun 27, 2014 10:49 AM AT