NDP says tried to woo MLAs from Tories and Liberals
P.E.I.'s New Democratic Party says it had serious discussions with a senior Liberal MLA about crossing the floor, as well as talks with a number of Progressive Conservatives.
Richard Brown has been a Liberal MLA for 14 years. NDP Leader Mike Redmond told CBC News Thursday a year and a half ago Brown was in discussions with party officials about taking over the then-vacant NDP leadership post.
"There were six meetings held with Campbell Webster and the NDP for Mr. Brown to come over and become leader," said Redmond.
Brown doesn't deny that he talked to Webster, but he said he never seriously considered leaving the Liberals, or indicated that he might.
"Campbell Webster called me to his house. He lives around the corner from me, he's a constituent, he's a good friend of mine," said Brown.
"He called me around and there were discussions at that time, would you switch parties and join the NDP? At no time did I indicate to them that I would switch parties."
Webster, a strong NDP supporter, said Brown was asked when he would make a move.
"The answer to that question, 'When will you tell us, what are the chances?' by Richard — which four people in the room heard — was there's a 50/50 chance he'll switch parties," said Webster.
"He would do it by June the first, let us know by June the first."
Webster said he has not heard from Brown since.
"These were quick meetings," said Brown.
"These were friendly discussions, I thought, and at no time did I indicate I would join their party … As a Liberal, I'm there in the good times and the bad times, in sickness and in health and till death do us part and I hope Mike Redmond can say the same thing."
Redmond said the length of time Brown was in discussions indicates the talks were not casual.
"I wouldn't consider somebody who would spend six weeks of negotiating anything else but serious," he said.
Progressive Conservatives approached
Redmond said recent discussions with members of other parties have not been limited the Liberals.
He said NDP supporters approached Progressive Conservatives Olive Crane, Hal Perry and Colin LaVie about joining the New Democrats.
"There was overtures by insiders with the Conservative Party," said Redmond.
"They didn't exactly name names but that's who we understood it to be."
LaVie said there were no talks about joining the NDP, but he said he, Perry and Crane had discussions amongst themselves about sitting as independents.
"The question was there, the question was asked," said LaVie.
"I said no. I'm a Progressive Conservative in district one and I'm a voice for the people up there and that's what I was elected for."
Perry and Crane left the Progressive Conservatives earlier this month. Perry crossed the floor to the Liberals on Oct. 3, and Crane was kicked out of the caucus the next day.