Former Coalition Avenir Québec member Claire Samson, dumped by the governing party’s caucus earlier this week, has switched sides to the Conservative Party of Quebec.
Samson made the move official Friday at a news conference alongside Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime, giving the party its first-ever seat in the national assembly.
Samson, 66, was ejected from the Coalition caucus on Tuesday after the party learned she had donated $100 to the provincial Conservatives. The Coalition party ruled it could not accept one of its members donating to a party that contests COVID-19 health measures, as Duhaime, a commentator and radio host in Quebec City, has done on numerous occasions.
Samson was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018 in the riding of Iberville, south of Montreal. Within days of the last election, she openly thought of quitting after being left out of the Legault government cabinet.
The decision to switch parties came after several meetings with Duhaime. She had said previously she didn’t feel welcome inside her previous party. “I did ask a lot of questions at the caucus, I think I was becoming a burden,” Samson said Friday.
“It’s easier for a party when everybody follows the thinking and the line, which is not always my case …. I feel that with Mr. Duhaime, I will be able to express my opinion, so I’m very relieved.”
Her arrival fulfils Duhaime’s goal of seeing his party enter the legislature as soon as possible, and with the potential for daily access to the legislature press corps, it will give him a platform ahead of the election scheduled for October 2022.
Until now, the right-of-centre party has been on the political fringe, but Duhaime’s election as leader in April could boost its fortunes, particularly in the provincial capital region where he has a following. He has said he will run in one of the ridings south of Quebec City currently held by the Coalition party.
Duhaime said he has courted other Coalition members to see if they would be interested in crossing the floor. Samson, who previously said she would not seek re-election, now says she hasn’t decided whether to run under the Conservative banner.