I've never been a fan of the NDP, but I've always had a liking for Jack Layton and a grudging admiration for his political accomplishments.
Therefore, even as a long time supporter of Team Tory, I'm reluctant to take pleasure in the controversy now surrounding her Majesty's Official Opposition.
As if Jack doesn't have enough on his mind battling cancer, he's likely now sweating his choice of interim leader, newbie Quebec MP, Nycole Turmel.
While Ms. Turmel insists that she's not now and never has been a separatist, many Canadians aren't buying it considering the evidence.
She was, until just prior to the last federal election, a card-carrying member of the Bloc Québécois. She claims she doesn't support the party's goal of separation, but joined anyway to "support a friend."
Really!? You join a party you oppose because a buddy is a member? Who does that!?
And what about her link with Québec Solidaire, a provincial separatist party? Still a member, she now says she'll end the relationship that began in 2007.
Then there's the fact, that when she was president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada she backed the union's endorsement of four Bloc candidates in the 2006 federal election!
Nycole Turmel may well be a patriotic Canadian strongly opposed to Quebec separation. But at this point it doesn't matter... what matters now is the optics. The doubt is out there, and her opponents will play it for all it's worth. Even party-hopper Bob Rae is tsk tsking!
If Ms. Turmel is really true blue to the Orange, she'll do the party a favour and step aside as interim leader, sparing it the embarrassment of eventually pulling the plug and risking losing hard-won support in the province of Quebec.
Jack Layton's goal is to be back in time for the resumption of Parliament... and your God willing, he will be.
But if he isn't, and Turmel is at the helm, the good ship NDP is in for one hell of a stormy session.
As for the revelation that now Transport Minister Denis Lebel was also, once-upon-a-time, a card-totin' member of the Bloc, his story differs from that of Turmel's.
Unlike the interim-leader of the NDP, he walked away from the separatist gang more than a decade ago, not months ago. And he has been a Tory Member of Parliament since 2007! And, of course, the biggest difference is... he's not the leader of the party.
A politician switching his or her political allegiance can be tough, but getting others to believe it, even tougher.