Blog of Mass Distraction

Friday, May 20, 2005


Canadian politics for the past week or so has completely revolved around Belinda Stronach. Paul Martin's Liberal government has survived a hard fought non-confidence vote from the Conservative and Bloc parties. It was a real squeaker,1 passed by just one tie breaking vote from the Speaker of the House. A key vote was cast for the budget (which is the confidence motion they were voting on) was cast by Chuck Cadman, an independent who was formally with the Conservative party.
Before the vote, however, there was a big shocker in Ottawa when former Conservative leadership contender Belinda Stronach left the Conservative party to become the Liberal Minister of Human Resources2, and the rarely mentioned (though she touts it greatly) Minister for Democratic Reform. This move, I understand, was a long time coming because of the ongoing dispute between Harper and Stronach. Stronach, who is a classic small c conservative didn't agree with some Conservative party (that is Alliance/Reform party) policies. The tension with Harper and the Conservatives joining forces with the Bloc to force an election was apparently enough to push her to leave the party. After consultations with David Peterson, arrangements were made in secret for her to join the Liberals. The shift was necessary for passing the vote and maintaining the government since every vote mattered.
In her move, Stronach has struck a blow to Harper and the Conservatives. Harper did his utmost to try to bring down the government and force an early election, but polls show now that even if there had been one, the Liberals would have likely gotten another minority. This has implications for Harper; if he can't win an election against the embattled, corrupt Liberals, then he probably can't win an election at all.
Stronach's own career however will also suffer because of this. She has said she's disappointed with the Consevatives, but she still is a conservative herself. This party change has given her a cabinet post, but that is likely as far as she'll ever get. Though maybe that's more than her former boyfriend Peter MacKay will get. He said he's been left worse for wear by the break up with Stronach, though it didn't seem to phase her one bit. Indeed, Stronach seems to be full of hope. Well I'll say she's definitely full of something...



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