Eve Adams says she abandoned the Conservative Party for the Liberals Monday because she was upset over the income-splitting tax benefit. This seems strange.
Ms. Adams ran as a Conservative in 2011, when the party introduced a tax break for single-income families as an election commitment. Google is of no help in locating a quote from that election in which she expressed her reservations about the measure.
We're told she never brought the matter up in caucus or raised it directly with Mr. Harper. If Ms. Adams was so troubled by the tax cut that she was left with no choice but to abandon her party, she suffered in silence.
Ms. Adams said she felt compelled to act only after the details of the new tax cut emerged. Again, strange: There was nothing in the measure that differed substantially from what had been promised in the election platform; if anything, the tax cut was more modest than might have been expected given the rhetoric that preceded it.
The cynical among us might speculate that Ms. Adams crossed the floor because she was in need of a riding and couldn't find one in her old party. Her existing riding of Mississauga-Brampton South disappears under redistribution, and her efforts to secure the nomination in Oakville-North Burlington led to a bitter and ultimately futile fight that forced the resignation of her companion, Dimitri Soudas, as executive director of the Conservative Party.
Of course, if opportunism more than principle lay behind this floor crossing, it will not be the first time such a thing has happened.
The ancient among us will remember Jack Horner, an Alberta MP who abandoned the Progressive Conservatives, as they were then known, for the Liberals in 1977. Grits being thin on the ground in Alberta then as now, a grateful Pierre Trudeau appointed him to cabinet, but it was for naught: Mr. Horner was trounced in the election that followed in 1979.
The most famous double – sorry, I mean floor – cross took place in 2005, when auto heiress Belinda Stronach abandoned Stephen Harper's Conservatives for Paul Martin's Liberals in the run-up to a crucial non-confidence vote. When Mr. Martin told reporters that her defection and elevation to his cabinet had nothing to do with that vote, the room erupted in derisive laughter. "I can count," Mr. Martin ruefully acknowledged once things died down.
David Emerson rivals Ms. Stronach in the celebrity defection category. As Liberal industry minister, he was close to resolving the softwood lumber dispute with the United States when his labours were rudely interrupted by the federal election of 2006 and the defeat of the Martin government.
Why not cross the floor and join my cabinet as international trade minister, Stephen Harper proposed. Happy to, Mr. Emerson replied. He never was much of a natural politician, and perhaps didn't anticipate the fury of his constituents, who thought they had voted for a Liberal.
Mr. Emerson concluded the softwood lumber agreement, and was the progenitor of a spate of trade negotiations that culminated in the Canada-European Union trade agreement, but chose not to offer himself to the righteously angry voters of Vancouver Kingsway in 2008.
Ms. Adams thus is in distinguished (or, if you prefer, notorious) company. The voters will decide on the wisdom of her decision, once she has secured a riding in what, we are assured, will be a completely open nomination process.
John Ibbitson is The Globe's writer-at-large, based in Ottawa.