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New Conservative MP Leona Alleslev is presented with a party card by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as she is welcomed during the conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 19, 2018.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Since abandoning the federal Liberals to join the Conservative ranks in September, Leona Alleslev is often not far from leader Andrew Scheer, nodding and smiling in support − but she says the transition has had its challenges.

Shortly after the Ontario MP slammed the door on her former party, crossing the floor and saying her attempts to raise concerns with the governing Liberals were “met with silence,” Mr. Scheer named Ms. Alleslev critic for global security. She asks questions of her former party in Question Period and stands by Mr. Scheer’s side at news conferences.

Despite her ability to fit in with those who hold political views she once opposed, Ms. Alleslev said that leaving the Liberals has been more difficult than what it may look like from the outside.

“It’s one of those things … kind of like getting divorced without ever telling the person you’re getting separated … when you don’t even dislike them necessarily,” Ms. Alleslev said in a recent interview, adding, “and on the other side, getting married without dating.”

Ms. Alleslev is a former Canadian Air Force officer who has worked with the Department of National Defence and in senior managing roles with IMB Canada and Bombardier Aerospace. She said she reflected on her commitment as an officer when making her decision to leave the party: “Service before self, right? So country before anything else.”

It wasn’t a guarantee that she would join the Conservatives just because she was leaving the Liberal Party, she said, but after a three-hour conversation with Mr. Scheer, she made up her mind.

“It was all about policy, about vision, about behaviour,” she said of the conversation. And even if she hadn’t been awarded a critic role, Ms. Alleslev said, “I still have a voice, they still want to hear it.”

It is nice to feel like a valued member of a team and it’s very nice to feel like you can represent your constituents and that you have a brain and you’re allowed to have a brain and participate.”

Ms. Alleslev said there are aspects of the Conservative Party that still concern her, but fewer than what troubled her about the Liberal Party.

“Hopefully, I can influence maybe the 20 per cent that I’m concerned about,” she said, without elaborating on her concerns. “I haven’t given it that much thought, because I really am focused on big things … foreign affairs, diplomacy.”

Just before Ms. Alleslev crossed the floor, she stood up in the House and raised concerns about the economy and foreign policy. Today, those areas are still top of mind. Ms. Alleslev said she believes Canada is at a point in its history when it hasn’t done any “great nation building,” and she pulled out her phone to find a quote she saved recently from The Globe and Mail’s 175th anniversary edition.

Scrolling through her phone, Ms. Alleslev landed on a quote from emeritus professor Margaret MacMillan. The Globe asked eminent Canadians what they wanted the country to accomplish in the next century. Ms. MacMillan responded, "My answer is simple: that Canada survive as a nation.”

Ms. Alleslev read another quote: "If you can still be here, dear maddening, lovable and admirable Canada, in 100 years, that will be your great accomplishment,” which brought her to tears.

Ms. Alleslev said she was emotional because “it’s nice to believe and see something so great, but to also know that if we don’t value it, we can lose it.”

“It’s been tough … standing up and being counted against the grain is tough.”

The Conservative MP said she’s been approached on the escalator, in the washroom and on the bus, since she left the Liberal Party.

“People come up to me in the washroom and tell me how upset they are and how they’ll never forgive me and how it was despicable,” she said, saying she hears from both Liberal MPs and staffers.

Ms. Alleslev said she’s been called a “traitor” and for someone who would die for the country, “it is very, very hard to be called a traitor because at no time have I ever betrayed the nation.”

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that parliamentarians and their staff should always be respectful with each other.

Ms. Alleslev later told The Globe in an e-mail that she is not comfortable providing the names of those who made comments to her, because it wasn’t one or two individuals – “it was many.”

“The interactions range from stinging comments in passing to scathing extended rants − with one lasting the entire distance between two parliamentary buildings and then into a conference room,” she wrote, “The reason this is of importance is not because of who they were, but rather because it reflects a pattern of behaviour and a culture where to do so is acceptable.”

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