Wednesday, May 18, 2005

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...

9 Comments:

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Rick Barnes said...

Saint Belinda, That is what I called her many months ago. The Conservatives have lost a real chance at government now. The Liberals have managed to ensure the next election will be faught not on gomery as much as it should be, but on trust.

Ironic actually, the Liberals have betrayed the trust of Canadians, it appears they received thousands of dollars laundered through bagmen and advertising executives yet people in Ontario will vote for the devil they know over the devil they don't.

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Hey, Belinda is proof they're right. Well, almost. If they can be convinced to trust the NDP instead of the Libs all may be well. Unfortunately, I don;t think that will happen for a few years...

Always my point when people bring this up - the people of Ontario know these guys only too well, they are the National verison of Mike Harris, and we know how well he is liked around here (even less so after the revealations at the Ipperwash Inquiry). they would rather vote for the Libs becasue the Cons are just that much worse...

 
At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Ms Stronach was truly a woman of values, she would have crossed the floor and sat as an independant. That in itself shows a person of character such as David Kilgore and Chuck Cadman. If she believes in the values of the Liberal Party she can run in the next election as a Liberal candidate and allow her electorate to decide.

She did not do this - she crossed the floor for a cabinet position - to which shows she is a person of little ethics or moral standing.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Anon, from what I have read, that was her intial intention - to either quit or sit as an independant. It was a chance meeting with David Petersen that got the Libs into the picture (the same day she was "read the riot act" by Stephen Harper ironically).

So I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle - that she genuinely didn't feel like the CPC relfected her values any more and she was going to quit over it. When Paul Martin got wind, he sweetened the deal to ensure she would vote with the government - a cabinet position.

I suspect in her postiion any one of us might have said yes.

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike

If you are a person of values - you do not compromise them for a sweetheart deal - as I said she has little ethics or moral standing - it's not like she needed the money - she is in it for the power to which is what the Liberal Party has always been about

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Anon,

"If you are a person of values - you do not compromise them for a sweetheart deal..."

Yes, like cozying up to separatists to force a non-confidence vote no-one in Canada wants simply because you think you can become Prime Minister...I whole heartedly agree.

Look, as I stated, everything I have read indicates she was leaving the CPC last weekend no matter what. Has it occured to you that perhaps remaining in the CPC was the ethical and moral dilemna she couldn't live with, because the party is no longer welcoming to moderates?

Your arguement makes sense if the Liberals stole her away - offered her something so she would leave the party. But that is not what happened. She was leaving anyway. When the Libs got wind of it, then they sweetened the deal in order to ensure a guaranteed vote in their favour AND to embarass the crap out of Stephen Harper. Had Belinda Stronach not gone to that dinner that Thrusday night after Harper tore a strip off her, in all likelyhood she would have sat as an independant - or simply resigned. But that's not how it worked out.

Sorry but if you were about to quit your job anyway and your boss' competitor came along and offered you a raise to go work for him, I think you would do it.

This whole incident speaks more of Harper's poor leadership skills and ability to control his caucus than anything. I mean, if you had a member that was teetering on the brink of jumping ship less than a week before a crucial vote, would you haul her into your office and further ostracize her, or would you wait until after the crucial vote? Would you try to make her struck around just a little longer?

For what its worth, I think Chuck Cadman made a courageous decision too. How come members of the CPC aren't calling into question his ethics or calling him a "whore?"

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike

Your argument is losing steam. It appears from what you've wrote you would take a deal based on how good it was, not on principle or your moral convictions.

Chuck Cadman didn't cross the floor for a Cabinet Position - he ran, won and is sitting as an independant - this a former Reform/Alliance member. Chuck displayed his principles by basing in part on what his Constituents wanted him to do - to which MP's represent. For that - most people respect. Belinda did no such thing. The voting majority in her riding elected her to represent conservative values, not to cross the floor because she "has issues". The only consultation she did was with a former Liberal Cabinet Minister. As for her newly minted position - She has been in politics for one year - I'm sure there are many more qualified Liberal backbenchers that could have been promoted to the position - individuals that have committed themselves to the Liberal cause a lot longer then she has, but apparently the only qualifications you need to become a cabinet minister in the Liberal Party is to cross the floor (ie. Scott Brison)

David Kilgore left the Liberal Party because he was appauled at the level of corruption that has infiltrated the Party (right to the PMO level) and deemed to be unacceptable. Although Mr. Martin tried to buy him off with Dafur aid (a noble cause - to which I support), Mr. Kilgore in the end based his decision on principle - that being the Liberals were only trying to buy him off and not able to follow through on such an endeavor. As it turned out, our Defense Minister - Mr. Graham got an ear full from our Military establishment that we are in no position to make such an irresponsible committment, (considering the present state of our already over extended, underfunded, underequiped troops) and to do so was not only reckless and rash - but putting our girls and boys in harms way as there was no plan or committment to send troops there from the very beginning. This shows the lack of respect the Liberals have for our Military personal, all for the sake of staying in power.

As for the Bloc - if you look at the record over the past several months, the Bloc has voted with the Liberals almost 2:1 for resolutions then against. Hardly a Conserv / Bloc Alliance

The other day on a NBC show discussing politics, several of the panel brought up the issue of the Canada Gomery hearing and the level of corruption that has occured within Canadian Politics. It was interesting to hear from a different perspective that if this was to have occurred in the US, the President who have been impeached and forced to resign by now. The panel mentioned that this would have been the largest scandal in US history and made Watergate look like small potatoes. Republicans and Democrats alike would have been united in bringing down the administration and a full judicial hearing would have been in place (not a mere public hearing). The people of the US would have demanded action, protests in the streets would have occured, and a level of outrage never have been heard before. In Canada we are apathetic and accept it. A statement to the affairs of politics in Canada. Truely taking the low road in life. A Liberal value.

As the old saying goes:

Why did the Canadian cross the road?

To get to the middle.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Anon.

My indications of a Conservative Bloc alliance are based on the fact that Mr. Harper is willing to give away Quebec in an election to the forces that would destroy Canada so that he can become the "Prime Minister of the Rest of Canada". He claimed to listen to Canadians but outright defied their wishes to NOT have an election, when poll after poll, no matter where they put the parties in relation to each other they all showed that 2/3 of Canadians did not want an election. But Mr. Harper knows better and was willing to side with separatists who will also gain in order to do that. Apparently HIS ethic and morals don't including putting your country ahead of personal political gain. None of the time that the Liberals or NDP voted with the Bloc were putting Canada and Canadian unity in jeopardy. it's not the qunatity of the voting its the quality.

As for Belinda, I stand by my assertion that she left not because of favours but because moderates are genuinely not welcome in the CPC. Scott Brison is another example. Joe Clark warned us all last year. Now did she have to take a cabinet post? I suppose not, but she did. She was going to be ostracized by her former party, she would have pissed off the Conservative voters in Newmarket had she sat as an independant. That is a lot different that painting her as somewone whose loyalty was up for sale. Again, unless you have evidence that the Liberals "stole her away", you have to admit she would have left the CPC anyway.

Mr. Kilgour is hardly the example to use - he left the Conservative for the Liberals and now has left the Liberals to be an independant. HE asked for impossible troops numbers be sent to Darfur (500). It was him that refused to listen to Lt General Romeo Dalliare, when he told Kilgour that what the government had promised was more than enough. If he knew, as you indicate, that the Military could not follow through, then his continued insistance that Canda send 500 troops is an even greater insult to the military. Mr. Kilgour was playing games just as much as Mr. Harper, even after he knew better. Real good ethics and morals there.

That fact remains that Belinda's reason for leaving was based on an ethical and moral descision since the CPC did not represent her views. You may question her descision to cross the floor to the Liberals as to whether THAT part of the decision was ethic and you may. But consider that the Liberals now more closely represent her political stance that the CPC, it was a natural fit. A cainet post might have just been icing on the cake. As for the voters in Newmarket, well they will get their chance to judge, just as the voters in David Kilgour's riding will get a chance and the voters in Scott Brisons have already judged. Belinda won by a very narrow margin last year and its likely that she will do it again, this time with the Liberal supporters and some "red tory" Newmarket residents backing her.

As for NBC, who cares? I will not take advice on honest accountable government from a regine that went to war on a lie, killing 100s of thousand of people, where the company of the Vice President is making millions from Iraq both before and after the war. Why doesn't NBC run a story about that?

 
At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Princess Monkey said...

"As for the Bloc - if you look at the record over the past several months, the Bloc has voted with the Liberals almost 2:1 for resolutions then against. Hardly a Conserv / Bloc Alliance"

Yabbut: the difference is between voting from a similar party perspective on an issue and colluding to create a "crisis" to bring down a gov't against the will of Canadians. The bloc and Harper both had only one reason to bring down the gov't - they were both up in the polls. That is not a good reason. If an issue had come to vote wherein the two parties had common ground and voted together - that's different. But that's not what happened. They worked together to engineer a false "non confidence" vote and then Harper had the gall to try and tell Canadians there is a "crisis" in parliament when Martin (rightly) refused to play along. I don't want random, ficticious (sp?) non confidence votes, held at the behest of separatists (be they Quebec or Alberta) deciding the agenda of our gov't. By that way of thinking, an transparent opportunist - ok lets call him Harper - can introduce a bill to make pink tutus tax exempt. Then, just tack on an amendment saying: "pink tutus shall be tax exempt...and the gov't must resign - now it's a confidence vote cause I say it is". It's a joke and it was a joke, and Harper aligned himself with the bloc to play the joke on Canadians.

 

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