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Is a Quebec New Democrat about to cross floor to Liberals?

Prime Minister Paul Martin welcomes Tory defector Belinda Stronach to the Liberal at a news conference in Ottawa on May 17, 2005.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

Finally, some good news for the Liberals. The buzz around town Tuesday morning is that an NDP MP from Quebec – one of the 59 elected in the so-called "orange wave" last May – is poised to defect to the red team.

And the timing couldn't be more perfect as it's on the eve of the Liberal Party's biennial policy convention, which begins in Ottawa Friday.

MP Denis Coderre, a former cabinet minister and key Quebec organizer, is holding a news conference at 10:30 a.m. with Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae.

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Mr. Coderre tweeted about the event Monday but gave no indication of the subject. At first speculation was he was leaving federal politics but later that changed to rumours of the floor-crossing, including a report Tuesday morning in Le Devoir.

One of the most spectacular defections was that of Belinda Stronach, the former Conservative MP, to the Liberals. She joined Paul Martin's government and became a cabinet minister just minutes after announcing she was leaving Stephen Harper's caucus.

Ms. Stronach crossed the floor in May 2005, denying the Harper opposition its chance to defeat the minority Liberal government over the budget. An MP crossing the floor will have less impact under today's majority government, but it would be a coup nonetheless.

Neither the NDP nor Liberals would comment to The Globe about the potential defection.

High hopes for Liberal Party's future

Alfred Apps is making a bold prediction for the federal Liberal Party, saying its next leader will be elected by more than one million Canadians.

As Grits prepare to debate policy at their convention this week, Mr. Apps's statement is based on Liberals supporting a radical change in the way in which the new leader is selected. And given the state of the Liberal Party these days – reduced to a rump of MPs and third-party status in the Commons – Grits need some enthusiasm and pumping up.

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Mr. Apps delivers all of that: "It wouldn't surprise me if we have over one million Canadians vote in this next leadership selection," the outgoing party president told The Globe in an interview. He was referring to the proposal for a primary system to elect leaders, which he and the party's national board of directors are putting forward.

"We have a convergence of technological possibilities and pressures to open up the party ... people who understand what we're doing understand how radical it is," he said. "For the first time in Canada we are actually creating a Canadian party that is controlled by the grassroots."

The key to this new system, however, is that it will be preceded by a "massive organizational effort on the ground called a national registration drive," Mr. Apps said. He explained that Liberals will be going into "every household in Canada" – an effort that will be supported by a new national call centre, which the Liberals are proposing to build in Ottawa at a cost of $2.5-million, according to The Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt.

Identifying the vote is crucial these days. "It's all about building data and all about building contacts with Canadians and building relationships with Canadians," Mr. Apps said, noting the Liberals have to begin to understand what Canadians care about and what they want to have input into.

He said a party can't reach out to Canadians without offering something and that is the "ability to participate in the selection of the next generation of faces of the Liberal Party, it's leadership and candidates."

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