The Belinda Chronicles
Time to don my hip-waders and slug through the swamp that is the Belinda Stronach affair and what it means, really.
While the conservative pundits and Stephen Harper himself seem to be painting Stronach as a opportunist who is doing this only for her career, it seems a fair amount of Canadians disagree. While there are some negative letters to CBC, most are quite positive.
So what does it all mean? Well my take is that this is more trouble for the Conservatives, who, despite being given a gift by Gomery, are stuck at around 30% support, where they have always been. There is something deeply flawed in the party. I don't think that the merger between the Alliance and the PC parties went as smooth and is as nice as it was made out to be.
Consider Belinda: a smart, successful business person who supported the merger. She tried to run for the leadership. She represents the voice of moderate conservatives across Canada and, especially in Ontario, that uniquely Canadian beast called the "Red Tory." She tried through out her time in the party to change things and influence them, but to no avail. At the Conservative Convention in Montreal, she and the 25% of the Conservative Party that support same-sex unions where booed and heckled when presenting their arguments. Ralph Klein made quite overt sexist remarks directed squarely at her during his speech to that same convention.
She didn't move or "switch", the party switched out from under her. The party she joined no longer exists. It was taken over by the far-right Alliance and is "Conservative" in name only. Paul Martin was right - there is a reason they dropped "Progressive" from their name. Joe Clark tried to warn us, but we wouldn't listen. Well, thanks to Belinda, I think Canada is listening now.
Where else can Belinda go? To the Liberals, who have been moving right for 10 years. It is a natural fit.
Of course all this means that people who used to vote PC should more rightly choose the Liberals rather than the Conservatives.
Conservatives, including Harper, are falling all over themselves to paint Belinda as an "opportunist". To which I have to ask, if she were only concerned with her career, why would she jump ship to a party in such trouble? Why would she go to a party and a government that could very well loose the next election because of its very public flogging at the hands of Judge Gomery? Does that sound like "opportunism" to you? Jumping ship to a government that may only last two more days?
No I suspect she realized that Conservatives are not the Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, John Crosbie conservatives of yore. She is showing us that there is no room for moderate voices in the Conservative Party and that Stephen Harper has only his interests at heart when he makes decisions.
When I heard Harper calling Belinda an "opportunist" I laughed right out loud.
Pot calling, the kettle is black...