Bruce Hyer supporters dismayed by NDP departure
No indication the former NDP caucus member wanted to become an independent, observers say
Bruce Hyer's departure from the NDP caucus in Ottawa has shocked many of his supporters in Thunder Bay and left them facing a tough decision in the next election.
Maurice Grinstead, the president of the Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP riding association, and a long-time friend of Bruce Hyer, said Hyer has severed his relationship with the riding association.
Grinstead said he can no longer discuss NDP policies with him.
And although it's three years away, he said he has to start thinking about replacing Hyer in the next federal election campaign.
"It's hugely disappointing for me ... I'll be running a candidate against him," he said.
Grinstead said he received a call from Hyer shortly before the announcement.
"He didn't want ... me to hear about it on the news," Grinstead said. "So he basically phoned and said he's sorry but he agonized over his decision and he honestly felt he had to ... step away from the party."
Thunder Bay's regional representative for the Public Service Alliance of Canada also said Hyer's departure is disappointing.
Judith Monteith-Farrell said Hyer has been a strong ally for the union, and now he'll no longer be part of the Official Opposition in Parliament.
"Unfortunately I don't believe, as an independent, he will have the same voice," Monteith-Farrell said.
She added that she hadn’t spoken to Hyer for a month or two, and that there was no indication that he was considering leaving the NDP caucus.
Monteith-Farrell said she hopes to have a personal conversation with Hyer soon, as she's not clear about his reasons for resigning.
"I'm disappointed that he would choose that route," she said. "(He was) ... part of the Official Opposition Party and I believe you can work better from within than sitting as an independent."
She said PSAC will continue to keep Hyer informed of their issues, and will work with him as much as they can. But she said the union has other strong NDP members they will work with, such as John Rafferty and Charlie Angus.
Some local NDP members have already told her they won't vote for Hyer in the next election, Monteith-Farrell noted.