Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Leona Alleslev leaves Liberals, crosses floor to sit as Conservative MP

Leona Alleslev leaves Liberals, crosses floor to sit as Conservative MP

In a rare defection to the Official Opposition, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leona Alleslev announced on Monday that she was leaving her caucus as Parliament was set to resume for the first time since June, dramatically walking to the Opposition side of the Commons as her new colleagues cheered.

"People have the right to change their opinions", she said in French, adding citizens will have their say during the election.

"Do not accept the status quo. Our country is at stake".

The Conservative opposition forced the Liberals onto the defensive Monday as the governing party watched one of their own abruptly cross the floor to join the chorus of Tories declaring that this was the prime minister's "summer of failures".

"She brings with her an extraordinary wealth of experience in military and foreign affairs, government procurement and private sector leadership". "To have a strong economy and a strong country, we need strong leadership".

Alleslev rose during question period to say Canada's position in the world had been diminished under Justin Trudeau, and that its ability to deliver on defence commitments, such as adequate fighter jets, had been undermined by politics.

"This is something we allow for in our system", said Trudeau.

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"A year from now the voters get the decision of whether they want her to still represent the riding", he said.

She spent a number of years as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, held senior posts at the Department of National Defence and was a manager with IBM and Bombardier Aerospace.

She spoke with reporters in a press conference shortly afterwards and was asked whether there was a particular thing that the prime minister had done or not done that led her to make the decision to cross the floor.

"Here at home, we see large amounts of capital investment leaving Canada while tax structures, federal infrastructure problems and politics prevent us from getting goods to market, deter companies from expanding, and undermine competitiveness", she said, adding that "Canada faces a ideal storm of serious challenges at home and overseas".

Haluza said Alleslev's decision is one he and countless Liberal volunteers are struggling to understand, especially after they gathered more than 100 signatures in the spring to ensure she could fly the Liberal flag in 2019.

She did not clarify what, if any, further paths were pursued before crossing the floor.

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