Karma chameleons

Pam Frampton
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“When the party drags on, no one plays, no one cheers
When the guests start to leave or just sit on the stairs
Before they’re asleep like a bunch of old bears
Start a game of musical chairs.”
— From the Disney song, “Musical Chairs”
What’s been going on in provincial politics lately, with MHAs sniffing the wind and switching allegiances accordingly, makes me think about the Woody Allen film “Hannah and Her Sisters.”


In it, Allen plays a tightly wound hypochondriac named Mickey, who, fearing he has terminal cancer, desperately seeks solace — and perhaps a spiritual escape hatch — in religion. A lapsed Jew, he hopes clinging to a new faith will give what’s left of his life some meaning or at least score him some brownie points in the afterlife.

Unabashed in his opportunism, he toys with various expressions of religion, trying to find the right fit. Here’s a scene:


Krishna Leader: “What makes you interested in becoming a Hare Krishna?”

Mickey: “Well, I’m not saying that I want to join or anything, but ... but I know you guys believe in reincarnation, you know, so it interests me.”

Krishna Leader: “Yeah, well, what’s your religion?”

Mickey: “Well, I was born Jewish, you know, but, uh, but last winter I tried to become a Catholic and ... it didn’t work for me.”


That’s kind of what we have happening here, with several restless souls seeking their political salvation.

The Progressive Conservatives are bailing water like crazy, trying to stay afloat and plug some of the  cracks that have appeared in the bottom of their boat.

The NDP is listing badly, having lost some of the crew they needed to maintain a greater balance.

The Liberals, well, they seem to be offering a berth to anyone who wants to come aboard — but in this case, most of the folks who have sought shelter from the political storm were on a similar philosophical path anyway, so there’s no great adjustments to be made. (OK, so Paul Lane might need a few indoctrination sessions.)

It seems all paths lead to the middle ground of Liberalism in these uncertain times.

Now, the fact that someone can be a staunch Tory or NDPer one day and then turn out to be a fair-weather friend has provoked outrage among some members of the electorate.

And that’s to be expected. It’s enough to make the most open-minded person cynical. Are you an NDPer or not?

A Progressive Conservative through and through, or just when times are good? Are you suddenly Liberal because you’ve had an honest and complete political conversion or because that party offers you the best chance at re-election? Was the leadership of your original party not something you could support in good conscience, or are you just looking to save your own skin?

Those are questions only the floor-crossers themselves know the real answers to, but in fact, their answers don’t matter that much.

Because what matters most is what we think their motives are, and how we react accordingly.

When you think about it, the only ones taking a risk in switching sides are the defectors themselves. They have, by far, the most to lose.

Some voters will look at this game of political musical chairs with disdain and use it as an excuse for being apathetic on election day.

Others will applaud the foresight of candidates who know when it’s time to sink or swim and happily back a party that could form the next government.

Still other voters might think changing teams out of pure political expediency is hypocritical and choose to vote another way.

That’s the power we wield when we take the time to cast a ballot.

I’ve heard people say in recent days that all this political chicanery will only bolster the trend towards lower and lower voter turnout.

I’m hoping it has the reverse effect — that it gets our political blood pumping.

And if you happen to be in a constituency come election day where one of the candidates has switched sides, or represents a party that backed policy decisions you opposed, be sure to take the opportunity to make your voice heard.

And ask yourself this question: do you believe in political reincarnation?

Or are there no second chances?

The answer is in our hands.


Pam Frampton is a columnist and

The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives, NDP

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Recent comments

  • crista
    February 08, 2014 - 08:13

    Reading your article you look at it like the tiny little latter???? you got the ones that want to try and help,and you got the ones that are looking for help???? and then you got the ones that are protected ???? and then you got the ones with personalities and you should know who they care about???? and then you got the the system that protects the Government not only the Government and you know what goes on then???? all hands goes around do not know what is going on????until some thing happens and then you got to go find them???? and when it gets corrected out they come again???? and as long as it do not get back to the ones that got to do there job????politics as usual and money for nothing and look after our selves until some thing happens again???? speaking of the musical chairs???? and the rest of your article???? the answer is in our hands????

  • Joe
    February 08, 2014 - 08:08

    Would a professional journalist make the off the cuff statement that Liberals are middle ground? No wonder voters don't know what the parties represent.