The ranks of New Brunswick's Liberal government grew on Tuesday when a couple of MLAs — who happen to be a married couple — crossed the floor.
Joan MacAlpine-Stiles and Wally Stiles were applauded by the entire Liberal caucus and cabinet as they arrived at a news conference with Premier Shawn Graham.
They said they were promised nothing to switch: no perks, no cabinet posts and no guarantees of Liberal nominations in the next election.
The two new Liberals said they've been thinking about the move since the Liberals defeated the Conservatives in last year's election.
MacAlpine-Stiles was a veteran Moncton city councillor when she was first elected as a Tory in the Bernard Lord sweep of 1999. Wally Stiles won the seat of Petitcodiac in that same election.
The two eventually fell in love, got married, and were re-elected as Tories two more times, including last September.
MacAlpine-Stiles was a cabinet minister the entire time the party was in power, but both she and Stiles said Tuesday they were treated as liabilities in the Conservative caucus, even before the last election.
Once the legislature resumed in February, they say they grew disenchanted with what they called negative personal attacks by the Tories on the Liberal government.
"There has been no real focus on building a vision for the future of this province," MacAlpine-Stiles said Tuesday."In this session, it seems that there has been more of a focus on personal attacks than debating the issues.
"I think New Brunswickers and my constituents have been offended by the negative tone coming from the opposition and I no longer wish to be part of it."
Tuesday's announcement brings the Liberal seat count to 32, compared to 23 for the Conservatives.
This is bad news for the Conservatives, who saw their leader, Jeannot Volpé, apologize last week for making alleged threats to a civil servant.
Volpé is expected to react to the double defection later Tuesday afternoon.