Nfld. & Labrador

Ryan Cleary defection a snub to NDP supporters, Earle McCurdy says

Ryan Cleary's defection to the PCs soon after losing his NDP seat is yet another reason why so many people are cynical about politics, says provincial leader Earle McCurdy.
NDP Leader Earle McCurdy criticized former MP Ryan Cleary Friday for defecting to the Progressive Conservatives, saying he turned his back on the NDP values under which he was elected in 2011. (CBC)

A decision by former New Democrat Ryan Cleary to defect to the provincial Progressive Conservatives 11 days after losing his federal seat is a snub to the many people who supported him, according to Earle McCurdy, leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party.

It's also another reason why so many people are cynical about politics, McCurdy said Friday.

McCurdy said he was struggling to understand Cleary's decision to seek the PC nomination in Windsor Lake for the upcoming Nov. 30 provincial election.

He called Cleary a "floor-crosser" who seems to think elections are all about him, rather than the people or the values he supposedly represents.

Cleary was supported by a "tremendous number of volunteers," McCurdy said, and the provincial NDP who "worked their hearts out" for his re-election bid.

Riding the orange banner of hope

Cleary was first elected in 2011 as the NDP MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl under what McCurdy referred to as the late Jack Layton's "orange banner of hope," which saw the NDP go from 36 to 103 seats in the House of Commons.

But he was defeated last week by nearly 9,500 votes by Liberal Seamus O'Regan, leading to widespread speculation about what the 48-year-old's future might be.

Word spread on Wednesday evening that Cleary was in talks with the PCs, and he made it official Friday.

​"I think it's our party that got badly let down," McCurdy said, adding that the party will not be deterred by Cleary's decision.

"I'd rather it didn't happen. But the fact is we have a great team of candidates and we have the platform and the values to go out and campaign hard with or without him."

About the Author

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.

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