Wednesday, May 18, 2005

24 Hours to go

A few random comments leading up to what will be a very big day tomorrow:

1. A lot was made of how quickly Belinda's website changed yesterday and the Conservative site was just as quick to remove all mention of Belinda. One assumes Peter MacKay was also busy cutting up his old pictures yesterday.

I only mention this because of what has become a running gag among Liberals in Alberta: the Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta's (LPCA) website. Go to the main page and you'll find the top news story is "David Kilgour website launched". You'll also see "Prime Minister encourages young Canadians to get out and vote"... for the June 2004 election. Unfortunately, you'll also find "Bush pledges US to lift beef ban soon". Some news stories never grow old.

2. How's this for a Conservative election slogan? "Conservatives: Shooting ourselves in the foot for over 100 years".

3. The more I think of Belinda's defection, the less I think of her. Andrew Coyne draws attention to the candidate Belinda bumped - that sounds like someone who should be in Cabinet. The fact of the matter is, even if Belinda was uncomfortable, she owed it to her party to give Harper more than a few hours notice. At least then he could have tried to dissuade her or, at the very least, adjusted his strategy accordingly. It also boggles my mind that she didn't talk this over with Peter MacKay beforehand. MacKay is handling this a lot better than Harper did yesterday, saying all the right things. If Harper does decide to resign over the summer, MacKay would definitely be a worthy successor.

Oh, and one more thing on Belinda's defection. Here's what she said about Scott Brison back when he joined the Liberals:

"It's unfortunate that Scott Brison did not stay, did not roll up his sleeves if
he didn't like something...Don't run from it. Help shape the direction of the
new party."

4. Stephen Harper's pledge to support (or abstain?) on the budget makes sense. If nothing else, Liberal candidates won't be able to say "Stephen Harper and my opponent voted against money for cities and childcare yada yada yada". Instead, they can focus on the NDP add-on and the perceived "buying votes".

5. As for the vote tomorrow, baring any last minute surprises, it appears that it's coming down to Chuck Cadman. It's looking more and more like David Kilgour will side with the Tories, which means Cadman is on the hot seat. I'm sticking to my prediction from last week that Cadman will go with the government and Kilgour will go with the opposition. That means a dramatic 152-152 vote with Milliken breaking the tie, much to the relief of the Conservatives.

6. On Politics today, Jeff Norquay let it slip that several Tory MPs will be speaking later today about job offers they received from the Liberals. Stay tuned!

20 Comments:

  • CalGrit:

    Sorry bud.. but I have to disagree with you - Stronach owes and owed Harper nothing after he acted like a Basic Trainnig Seargent to a cowed cadet..

    From todays Toronto Star:
    ----------------
    The end began with a shouting match in Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's oak-panelled Parliament Hill office.

    Harper hauled in Newmarket-Aurora MP Belinda Stronach to his inner sanctum last Thursday to, sources say, "read her the riot act."

    "You'll never have a future in this party - you're too ambitious," he told her.

    "If we lose the confidence vote I will hold you personally responsible," Harper screamed, furious, insiders say, that she had expressed support for some elements of the Liberal budget.

    ...."There was no outreach for a year after the leadership contest. There's an old saying in politics: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I don't know if Harper read that chapter," one senior Ontario Conservative strategist said yesterday.
    ---------

    Harper couldnt handle someone whose views were contrary to his own, and he has no-one to blame but himself for this. Perhaps he was hoping to get her to resign... perhaps without her running into David Peterson, thats what would have happenned. In any event, Miss Stronach gave Mr Harper a bit more courtesy then he showed her.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 6:58 PM  

  • CalGrit: I disagree as well. If I were in Belinda's position of trying to make a such a large and critical decision, I think I would have done it exactly the same way. If Harper had gone on a rant against you (as Scott cites,) would you have given him the courtesy you suggest?

    Yes, Belinda did criticise Brison, but after a year of trying to work within the Conservative party and finding out what Harper and his ilk are really all about, she simply did what she felt she had to do given a new (or newly discovered) reality.

    Belinda will have to weather the fallout of being labelled an ambitious opportunist, but if she keeps her head down, works diligtently in her cabinet post and shows that she's not just there to eventually become Liberal leader, she should be fine.

    And now Harper has backed off his position on the budget. What is that? And who is the opportunist?

    WeeDram
    Rochester, NY

    By Blogger WeeDram, at 7:19 PM  

  • re: Stronach's statement "It's unfortunate that Scott Brison did not stay, did not roll up his sleeves if he didn't like something...Don't run from it. Help shape the direction of the new party."

    Surely, however, this is part of the point. The party is no longer new. The direction has been set and it is not where Stronach wants it to go.

    By Blogger buckets, at 7:20 PM  

  • Of course, the charitable interpretation of Belinda's actions requires us to give creedence to the story of the Harper screaming fit, the furious disagreement, etc.

    Now, let's think - who was there? Hmmm... Stephen and Belinda, certainly - but I doubt there was anyone else present; if you are going to give a favoured lieutentant a royal dressing-down, you do it in private. Now, does Harper have any reason to make this sort of story public - no, not really, does he: it makes him look bad and justifies (at least, in some people's minds) Belinda bolting to the Grits.

    Does Belinda have any reason to make this story public? Hmmm... justifies her actions (at least in her own mind), corroborates her cover story about Harper's lack of leadership causing her defection, makes Harper look bad, and therefore makes her look good (or at least, better) by comparison. Yes - I'd say Belinda has all sorts of reasons to make the storty public. Does she have reason to embellish the story a little, or even make it up out of whole cloth? - of course she does; the same reasons that make releasing the story in her own interest.

    The other alternative is that the Star is making the whole thing up, secure in the assumption that Belinda isn't going to deny it, and that if Harper bothers to comment, his denial won't be believed. Maybe I'm just too distrustful of the (Liberal loving) media; they have been so accurate about other stories regarding the Tories - you know, the hidden agenda; the secret Alberta health plans; the mandatory abortion counselling - I'm sure they just nailed this one, too.

    Cheers,

    Dean

    By Blogger deaner, at 7:45 PM  

  • Harper screamed? The iceman? Even the "Mr. Angry" moniker is based on statements made in calm measured tones. C'mon. It's the Star talking about the Tories. It's made up.

    By Blogger matt, at 10:19 PM  

  • First of all, the Star story doesn't jibe with Harper's account of things, since he said that he hadn't told Belinda that she didn't have a shot at leading the party but rather was going to say that to her.

    Secondly, even if the Star story is true, Belinda deserved a chewing out. While Harper may or may not have stepped over the line in his personal behaviour (and none of us were there to say) she had publicly undermined him shortly before. That's not the behaviour of a team player. I would expect my boss to chew me out under similar circumstances. It's just unprofessional.

    By Anonymous Kevin Brennan, at 10:31 PM  

  • Great article, CalgaryGrit. And you nailed it spot-on: it's not an issue of a Tory defecting to the Grits or vice-versa; it's about ethics and honesty. How can she join up with Martin after all those things she said about him just weeks ago? How can he look her into the eye after all the things she said about him?

    She is a two-timing little hussy (Anne McLellan is not going to like that, but I don't give a hoot, because Landslide Annie won't be around much longer anyway), and ANY party would be better off without Belinda. She is unreliable, selfish and greedy.

    In a nutshell: I would not wish Belinda on my worst enemy.

    By Anonymous Calgary Observer, at 10:32 PM  

  • lol, I love the bit about the LPCA website... it's so true.

    tomorrow should be interesting. i'm sure all the political hack (me included) will be watching CPAC tomorrow...

    By Blogger daveberta, at 11:31 PM  

  • Kevin:

    Who's not acting professional here?

    "In March, Stronach was furious at leaks surrounding the financial details of her leadership bid that were seen as a retaliation from Harper's people, who in turn were incensed by what they felt were Stronach-led attempts to disrupt the party's policy convention."

    You know what her attempts to :disrupt" the convention were Kevin? She was trying to set something up for the youth of the party as well as advocating her same-sex position?

    So.. becvause she publicly advocates her policies.. harpers people decide to release her financial records, probably with Harper's implicit blessing?

    Yea.. Harper sure is a saint in all this.

    As far as I am concerned (and my column at Prog Bloggers says this) Stronach has shown that Harper isnt even fit to lead an Opposition Party, much less a Government.. he cant take criticism of his approach... he cant broach internal opposition, and he has no time for moderates in his party.

    He is a disgrace and the sooner he leaves or is forced to leave, the better.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 11:46 PM  

  • Why not just take Belinda at her word? She clearly stated that the decision was a difficult one and that here resignation reflected her disagreement with Harper's direction. She is a red conservative who learned that there is little room for red conservatives in the current CPC.

    With Belinda's help, the government will probably win on Thursday. An early election would almost certainly lead to more separatists in the House of Commons so I think Ms. Stronach is doing the right thing. She can vote with her conscience and do what many of us feel is the right thing for Canada.

    By Blogger Psychols, at 1:48 AM  

  • With all due respect, CalgaryGrit, I agree with the first two comments. It was mostly Harper and to a lesser degree the swarm of unpleasant people who dominate the Reform caucus that drove Belinda running from their ranks. She hinted that events like Harper's revolting speech that denounced same sex marriage helped push in towards the defection. Frankly, she never belonged with the Conservatives in the first place. One more thing; isn't it funny how the Reformers have managed to drive all of the moderates from their elected ranks, one by one? Jan Brown, Jim Silye, Scott Brison, Joe Clark, John Herron all come to mind. There is a trend here, my friend, and Belinda Stronach is merely the continuation of that trend.
    I continue to enjoy your blog; keep up the good work!

    By Blogger John Murney, at 1:54 AM  

  • CalGrit:

    I have to side with Honourable Member for Drayton Valley-Calmar. Belinda is a whore! a whore! a cheap trick who's whoring herself out for all the whorey power of a 'B' grade cabinet post... she is such a whore that... um...

    Where was I going with this again?

    Tony

    ps. That's not sexist because... um... men can be whores too. If you don't agree than your sexist against all male prostitues.

    By Anonymous Tony (DV), at 2:38 AM  

  • The Grits aren't out of the woods yet. There are new allegations of vote buying. This is getting ugly.

    By Blogger Shaky, at 3:32 AM  

  • Why not just take Belinda at her word?

    Good point. After all, we've only seen her sit in solidarity beside Paul Martin while he claimed that her crossing was unrelated to today's vote...

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 3:44 AM  

  • If I'm not mistaken, the original story was published in the Globe & Mail, and the story was attributed to a close Stronach confidant. Another conservative MP who claims to have been in the meeting disputes the characterization completely.

    So, it boils down to a he said/she said argument. Anyone can see what they want to see.

    We shall see how things unfold, and the people will render their judgement as they vote ... sometime.

    WeeDram

    By Blogger WeeDram, at 7:06 AM  

  • Interesting natpost article re: Belinda selling off some $3.36 m worth of Magna share options....

    Now that she has to disclose all her debts and income, etc. according to conflict rules and submit her forms for the ethics commish's perusal, I guess the PMO retainers have persuaded her to pay back a bunch of the oft-rumoured debts outstanding from her PCP leadership bid.

    In particular, I'm told that one of Warren Kinsella's tory partners at Navigator is owed nearly $200k. So, some tories will definitely benefit from her stroll across the floor and late-evening ministerial bargaining session at 24 Sussex!

    By Anonymous MoDuv, at 11:52 AM  

  • Even if she did get a private dressing down from Harper, at least Harper did it in private. Stronach has never had any problem with airing party disagreements in the national media. Furthermore, her treatment of MacKay (and her past history), clearly show her mercenary character.
    She's a political opportunist, which is unfortunate, but hardly makes her unique.

    By Blogger Vuorinen, at 12:31 PM  

  • Maybe it's just because I value loyalty above all else in politics, but no matter how bad Harper treated her and how uncomfortable she felt, this is a person who ran for the party's leadership and voted non-confidence in the government last week.

    If you were in a terrible job, few would blame you for quitting or jumping to a rival company. But to do so without giving any notice to your boss, during the most important week of the past decade for your company...when they're in a hostile corporate war with the company you're jumping to - to me, that's low.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:12 PM  

  • Hey STronachj's site is still Blue..

    when is it gonna become commie red?

    also, CAD-man was bought and paid for by the LPC slime, you know it too.

    By Blogger Walsh Writes, at 11:28 PM  

  • CalGrit: Sorry, I disagree. First of all, that is just not how the corporate world works anymore. They (the corporation) no longer have no compunction in shafting the employee. Loyalty no longer exists. So, I think the analogy isn't really a good one.

    That aside, this is politics. We cannot know with real certainty what has transpired between Belinda and Harper in the last year, nor between
    Belinda and the part at large.

    Given my opinion of Harper, I think she did the only rational thing.

    Cheers,

    WeeDram

    By Blogger WeeDram, at 11:33 PM  

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