Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

No, not that again. This will be serious.

There's a lot to be said about Belinda's shocking defection. Every post I've read has started with "I didn't see this coming". Say what you want about Belinda, but she knows how to grab a headline. After the initial shock, my first reaction was: "damn, why couldn't she have done this a few months ago. It would have made for a nice hospitality suite at the Liberal convention." But that got me thinking about the bizarre timing of this. Let's consider:

Fall 2003: Belinda sits Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper down and helps arrange a merger. Her reasoning? Canada needs a strong, moderate, Conservative Party.

Winter 2004: Belinda Stronach runs for leadership of the Conservative Party. Her reason? Canada needs a strong, moderate, Conservative Party.

June 2004: Belinda Stronach runs for Parliament and is elected as a member of the Conservative Party, under the leadership of Stephen Harper.

March 2005: Belinda throws a huge party at the Conservative convention, leading everyone to assume she's running for leadership.

May 10, 2005: Belinda Stronach votes non-confidence in Paul Martin's government.

May 17, 2005: Belinda Stronach joins Paul Martin's government.

This seriously just does not add up. It just seems odd that she would give up on the united right so quickly. Even though she never had a great chance at CPC leadership, I can't imagine Liberals ever backing her for Liberal leadership so I'm not sure this was about opportunism. I know she got a Cabinet spot, but she would have had one under a Harper government too. Maybe the Ontario polling numbers freaked her out or maybe sitting next to Stockwell Day every day just took its toll. She probably just felt she'd be more at home in the Martin Cabinet (and, as Paul Wells said, she likely will be. Lapierre, Dosanj, Brison, Stronach...we're not exactly attracting the bright lights from other parties).

As for political fallout...boy, we're in uncharted waters here. This is going to hurt Harper in Ontario and I'm sure he's having second thoughts about having an election now. In fact, I bet Steve is secretly hoping everyone's favourite media whore decides to vote with the government on Thursday. Also...I'm likely going to do a separate post on this later but although I disagreed with Jason Cherniak when he said it the other day, I think there's a legitimate chance that Stephen Harper will resign over the summer. Despite everything Harper has done to make the party look moderate, it's obvious that Canadians do not see them that way. This party would absolutely destroy Martin if they had Bernard Lord, Rona Ambrose or James Moore in charge. Even Peter MacKay would give them a moderate face at the helm. Harper has never lusted for power and he might realize that it's in his party's best interests to have a November leadership convention and then take out the Liberals next January.


  • Wait wait wait. I thought David Kilgour was everyone's favourite media whore?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:40 p.m.  

  • Gee, I have to ask ... What happens when Stronach and McKay become leaders of their respective parties?

    By Anonymous Herbinator, at 4:43 p.m.  

  • The people of Aurora, Ontario, should sue Belinda Stronach for breach of contract. Let me explain why.

    Belinda Stronach ran as a Conservative. Essentially she made an offer for a unilateral contract to the good people of Aurora (using contract terminology, her consideration was her promise to run as a Conservative), which the people of Aurora accepted by voting for her (their votes were their consideration under this contract).

    Now, however, she is no longer a Conservative, but a Liberal. In fact, she has unilaterally changed a core term of the contract described above. The people of Aurora have therefore every right to sue her for breach of contract.

    What this highlights is an urgent need for reform. MPs should not be allowed to switch sides, because each time they switch side, they defraud the very people who voted for them in the first place.

    In addition to term limits and fixed election dates, we also need to reform this MP system. If an MP feels that he or she is more at home in another political party, that’s fine, but in the event, the MP must vacate his or her seat and a by-election must be held.

    It is my view that this move proves once and for all that the Liberals have been trying to bribe Conservatives to switch sides. Remember? Just a few weeks ago, Paul Martin denied any such attempts. Reeling in Belinda now proves that these things have been going on.

    I know Belinda’s father, Frank Stronach, and I know that he won’t be too pleased about his daughter’s unscrupulous and unprincipled moves in her attempt to grab power.

    I love your "media whore" moniker, by the way! She is no asset to the Liberals, nor to any party now that she's shown that she is open to bribes and cannot be trusted.

    By Anonymous Werner George Patels, at 5:49 p.m.  

  • Magna stock was up sleightly at day's end.

    Interesting point about Harper resigning. I think he might wait to see if the media will ever pay attention to the Gomery mess again, in which case more skeletons will come out of the closet.

    Kroll & Associates, the forensic auditors will take the stand this week, but I think the media will transition from Belinda to the Queen.

    Also, it is alleged that Belinda owes the conservatives over $380,000.


    By Blogger Aaron, at 5:58 p.m.  

  • We have been in these sorts of waters before . . . remember Scott Brison?
    See my weblog for more examples.

    By Blogger Vuorinen, at 6:02 p.m.  

  • I agree with you that Harper's future as leader is in doubt. Today's defection amplifies his deficiencies in so many ways. I recall he mused about resigning last summer after the election. He has a track record of not sticking it out when things aren't going his way (recall his previous resignation from Parliament, way back when)...

    By Anonymous Impolitic, at 6:02 p.m.  

  • Sorry, Werner, but no - the "breach of contract" suit is a non-starter. No consideration - Belinda's promise to run is, if anything the consideration she gave up. The considertion given up by the citizens of Aurora was their vote, and you cannot contract to vote or not vote in a given way...

    Interestingly, MPs used to resign and face a by-election if they were appointed to the cabinet. The theory being that by taking on cibinet responsibility (and the requirement for cabinet solidarity) you could no longer advocate for your constituents - they therefore had the right to determine if that was acceptable to them. Now, of course, cabinet appointment just means "hey, Gang! Now I can really bring home the pork!!" (obligatory jab - especially if you are a Liberal)



    By Blogger deaner, at 6:04 p.m.  

  • Harper is definately in hot water. If he loses the vote on thursday, his political life is over. If he allows his Newfoundland MPs to vote for the budget, his political life is over. If he wins the vote on thursday but loses the election, his political life is over. If he wins a minority government his political life is dated. Lesson: don't make your power grab based on one poll!


    By Blogger Manatee, at 6:08 p.m.  

  • folks!! have a look! this whole election preamble is not about gay rights, gay marriage, alienated fishermen, poor east coast cousins wanting their share of the pie. those are just smoke screens. Look at the mess the country is in politically. A government so obviously corrupt, so sleazy, and with allegations that would make Noreiga look like a a good candidate for membership in any type of civic organization, we are being bull shirted into a herd mentality. No folks, there is something even more sinsiter at work. For those of us in the West, CONfederation has been just that. A big CON by big money down east, the ruling classes of old money establishment that has exploited the vast riches of Western Canada for their personal gain and a few bones thrown to us yokels. No folks, this is the one and only maybe last chance with the chance to elect a government with a Prime Minister from Western Canada, who will be a voice not only for us, but for all Canadians. We have a sick government running this country, so desperate to cling to the status quo and their privilege they believe is a right. Wake up Canada! Throw PMPM and Belinda to the scrap heap of history

    By Blogger Warren Kommisshoner, at 6:10 p.m.  

  • I would vote for a Westerner as Prime Minister, I just don't agree with Harper's principles. Anne McLellan, Jim Prentice are two names that come to mind that I would vote for. What the Conservatives need is a Westerner, as you say, who speaks for all Canadians.

    By Anonymous Impolitic, at 6:22 p.m.  

  • CG, in terms of Belinda's motives I think you hit the nail on the head--they seem odd and contradictory. The two clear options seem to be opportunism or altruism. If it's oppportunism this move only really makes sense if she thought HRSDC was the best cabinet post she would ever get as a Liberal or Tory and would only get it now because Martin is desperate. If it's an altruistic desire to represent what she thinks her constituents want why didn't she make the move before last Tuesday? I guess the answer has to be that then she wasn't sure what she would get from Martin.

    As for Harper quitting let's not jump the gun here. Granted from an array of Conservative perspectives he is not the perfect choice for leader. Unfortunately all the other options you mention with the possible exception of Peter MacKay (who still has too much merger related baggage) are almost total unknowns who have never run a federal party. They would face the same problem Harper did last time of being a new leader forced to run a campaign without their own policy convention. Voters would view them with the same distrust and suspicion that they had for Mr. Harper the last time around.

    By Blogger Rhetoric, at 6:50 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Rhetoric, at 6:50 p.m.  

  • Sorry, deaner, but you will have to read up on Contract Law 101 (unilateral contracts, consideration).

    Please note that "consideration" is used in a legal context and as a legal term, not as an everyday sort of term as employed by you.

    By Anonymous Werner George Patels, at 7:28 p.m.  

  • Werner.. I'm not sure I see the point of you travelling around to well-known Liberal/NDP and or progressive bloggers sites advocating this resign due to breach of contract position.. I dont know why you'd think you'd get much sympathy for your view... You'd get a more positive response at any one of the Blogging Tories sites.

    There are many instances in British-style Parliamentary systems of MP's crossing the floor - as I mentioned in my reply to you at the Progressive Blogggers site, Winston Churchill crossed twice. Brison crossed the floor 2 years ago, and his constituents re-elected him... those to me are the ultimate judges on this decision - the same will be for Belinda.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 7:39 p.m.  

  • I trust that we can now find all the liars, cheats, thieves and whores in Canadian politics in one Federal party.

    By Blogger Fintax, at 8:42 p.m.  

  • Ah, Fintax.. the Conservative supporters are showing their true colours by all their virulent and derisive language today... this is how you're gonna win the election? Good luck.

    Its amusing actually watching wingnuts heads explode at commentary sites like Coyne's... more entertainment for free then any fireworks show next weekend.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 8:50 p.m.  

  • Perhaps someone of a more Western persuasion might enlighten me as to the chances of Jim Prentice seeking the leadership of the Conservatives.

    He's taken the moderate position on gay marriage, he's maintained a 10,000+ name Christmas card list, and he's remained behind the curtain and allowed others to fall upon their own swords.

    I also have it on good authority that when Orchard approached him (first) he had enough integrity to tell him exactly where he could stick his votes (and I don't mean with MacKay, either.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:36 p.m.  

  • I'm shocked by her departure.

    But am confused by the media: CG here is the only place I've read/listened to that pointed out she had a role in bringing Mackay and Harper together to merge the parties. They were hardly unknown commodities (and she, um, "knows" Mackay really well now).

    In that context, the scope of the betrayal is epic. But that seems, well, "not nice" to bring up, and instead Duffy (who usually I quite like) et. al. repeat Liberal talking points. Which I think fails the public trust placed in media.

    As to Scott's point about not nice comments, well, Kilgour didn't receive much better. "Get the fuck out" I believe was the caucus response. And, I think negative responses all round are justified. This is real. This is significant.

    So, to sum up:
    1. CG: keep up the good smart stuff.
    2. Scott: the comments are deserved, and their absence would be abnormal.

    P.S.: Werner, take it from a law grad: you're wrong. No unilateral contract there.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:46 p.m.  

  • Oh - with the quick caveat that "whore" should be removed for the lexicon. I can see how it could apply in a political sense, but it strays way too easily into gendered territory to be acceptable.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:48 p.m.  

  • It looks to me like Red Tories may never be at home in the CPC. I think she finally resigned herself to the fact that the CPC is more Reform/CA than PC.

    By Blogger Jaybekay, at 10:17 p.m.  

  • Hi Matt,

    Admittedly my law studies have been based on English law (the real common law system), and under English law, it's an offer for a unilateral contract, because acceptance is expressed by performing an act (voting), and the contract is complete once this act has been performed.

    (cf. Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co., Errington v Errington, etc.)

    By Anonymous Werner George Patels, at 10:17 p.m.  

  • I was reminded today of a fact that not too many Canadians will remember:

    Several years ago, neo-Nazi Jörg Haider from Austria visited Canada, and among other things, he went to see the Stronachs. Several of Haider's party members went on to work for Frank Stronach or were recruited for the Austrian government from Stronach's workforce.

    One could draw all sorts of conclusions about where the Stronachs' affiliations lie, but it does not look good.

    Was it really smart for Paul Martin to bring aboard a new Human Resources minister who may have ties to an extreme right wing part such as Austria's Freedom Party?

    By Anonymous Werner George Patels, at 10:30 p.m.  

  • I can't say that I saw this coming either, but then again, I'm not as shocked as most.

    Quite frankly, all this emphasis being placed on what Belinda has said in the past is trite. She was an opposition member, and opposition members take jabs at the government. That's what they do. People will still be talking about the Belinda factor for quite some time, but what they won't be talking about is what she might have said during this committee hearing or that.

    Also, I disagree that this isn't an opportunistic (such an ugly word) play on Belinda's part. The Liberals appeared (at least until today) to be the sinkingest of ships, with no real heir apparent. Certainly there's been a few hopefulls circling the carcus, but none of them will ever come even close to our girl in terms of charisma and sex-appeal!

    If she did make a play (although common sense dictates for her to wait until the next time around) that would put a definite kink in John Manley's hose. Given the choice between his moderate, fiscally responsible, pro-American, trade focused vision of the Liberal party, and Belinda Stronarch's similarily moderate, fiscally responsible, pro-American, trade focused vision of the Liberal Party, I'd guess most would go for the one with the girlish pizazz. But that's just me.

    By Blogger Senator Catalyst, at 10:55 p.m.  

  • Matt: The Liberals werent exactly kind to Kilgour leaving, I agree... but its nothing compared to comments the Tories are throwing at her...Being called a political whore and a dipstick and worse... these guys are showing their true mean-spiritedness they wish to impose upon Canada... apparently the American righ-wing smear tactics have been taught well... but I bet most Canadians wont stand for it.

    Werner: I see you've joined the smear effort... I thought political scientists were supposed to be a tad more objective then that. But, suppose you're right about Frank Stronach.. do the sins of the father automatically get transferred unto the daughter? And what does it say about the Conservatives if they allowed her to get thru their vetting process? Either they didnt think it was an issue, or else they didnt care.. or their investigative skills suck.

    I dont think the Austrian Freedom Party advocates same-sex marriage rights either... someone better tell Belinda that if she wants to keep her membership (sarcasm)

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 11:00 p.m.  

  • A premier from Western Canada?
    Diefenbaker...OOPS the conservatives killed his leadership
    Joe Clark? OOPS the conservatives killed his minority Government - he could have survived the vote that took him down but some in the party didn't even show up in commons that day.
    How about Kim Campbell - well i guess conservatives don't like to talk of her.

    we had a shot with stockwell day (lower case intentional)
    Even the most hard-core right wing saw through that blunder before it got out of hand.

    Gads If anyone thinks that having a PM from the west will help alleviate the fact that most of the votes are in Ontario - so most of the largess goes there too -they are out to lunch.
    How about a cabinet that has a lot of westerners? Think Mulroney. Wow!, that was a resounding success for the west, nay, the whole country. A conservative government that tripled the deficit while selling the country to the Americans.
    Oh, and remember the patent drug legislation that that wonderful, heavily western loaded, lot brought us. Even when every economists almost all said it would make health care costs skyrocket. Thanks to that conservative, west loaded, cabinet we have today’s health care crisis.
    It’s got nothing to do with snubbing the west. It’s got to do with appeasing the majority of voters.
    They are in the east.
    Democracy sucks but it’s still the best system we have, and I’d hold ours up against any other government in the world.
    Hell the bush (again, caps intentional) bunch in the states are way more corrupt than the Liberals could even dream of, and you would never ever see them hold an inquiry into their own corruption. They are masters of spinning it away into a vortex.
    They are also training our conservatives on how to win and how to spin. That’s reassuring.

    At least our government has the balls to let people see the skeletons in their closet.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:22 a.m.  

  • Senator Catalyst; I can't for the life of me imagine any card carrying Liberals lining up behind Belinda for leadership. She can't give a speech without reading it word for word, can't speak french, would get killed in a debate or an open question session, and hasn't proven to be an overly bright or ambitious Parliamentarian.

    I imagine any Liberals looking to support all-style, no-substance turncoats will back Scott Brison for leadership. Any Liberals looking to the right but wanting substance over style would take John Manley or Frank McKenna.

    But, then again, in a party where Joe Volpe considers himself a legitimate leadership contender, I guess Belinda's got a shot.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:52 a.m.  

  • There's no smear effort. Common sense is the overriding principle here, and the conclusion is that Belinda is not the right member for any party, because she is two-timing and unreliable. That's the last thing we need in Canada (voter apathy is already very high).

    By Anonymous Werner George Patels, at 1:40 a.m.  

  • Volpe is a candidate!?!?!?!? Must get scotch...

    Ok, back.

    Werner, just because you can analogize the Carbolic facts to voting doesn't make that the case. It's amusing, but there are a dozen holes that can be poked in your argument. Primarily, Dean's point, that a vote can't be the object of a contract. Or one could attack the vagueness of her obligations. Or one could make a floodgates argument. Ultimately, the premise is absurd - people don't view the act as contractual, and don't have the resulting expectations of performance - contrary to the expectations of those wonderful smoke balls.

    Scott: american smear tactics not being practiced by the Liberals? Did you see the healthcare/gun/Iraq tv commericals of the last election? Where they made stuff - awful stuff - up? C'mon, I mean, it's obvious I'm not voting for Paul this time around, but I like to think I can be objective. I agree, and have said so before, words like "whore" are beyond the pale. Expect in the case of Joe Peschisolido. And maybe Scott Brison, Keith Martin. (note that all were leadership candidates, as obviously was Belinda). But I digress.

    Senator: did you see Mansbridge eat Stronach alive on the National? Mansbridge!! It's like having a hamster kick your ass! Possibly a large gerbil. No leadership threat there. Manely would feel like Manning did when Peschisolido announced his candidacy for leader of the UA project.

    By Blogger matt, at 2:01 a.m.  

  • sigh. and I should clarify that I don't mean to insult Mansbridge. He's just such a nice guy. Although the theatre of putting on the reading glasses as he read Stronach's budget criticisms back to her was priceless.

    I'm still not sure if Paul Wells' comment that her talent and intellect suits her for cabinet reflected well on her or poorly on cabinet. Am thinking of Dosanjh in particular, and I still don't know why the Liberals chose him. Granted, he had a great career prior to leading to the NDP to a 2 seat rump, but so did Kim Campbell. Can anyone see, say, Romanow back in the day bringing in Campbell in '94?

    By Blogger matt, at 2:11 a.m.  

  • Having found out about this only after coming home from working at a ballot location for the BC election all day, I had to face a bizarre truth: For the first time in living memory, National politics has become wierder than our provincial politics. Am I in bizarro-Canada?

    This just makes no sense. Maybe Stronach will eventually give us more insight, but there have to be hidden depths to this story. And not of the crypto-mysogynist tinfoil hat brigade variety, either.

    By Anonymous Wrye, at 12:07 p.m.  

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