If you can’t say anything nice

Don’t say anything at all.  Oops, too late.


(CP photo / Jonathan Hayward via CBC)

I am no big fan of the Honourable Belinda Caroline Stronach, PC, MP.  I think her political record, such as it is, speaks for itself:

  • Aspired to federal Tory leadership.  Struck out.  Quit party for Grit cabinet post.
  • Aspired to federal Liberal leadership.  Did not compete (to avoid striking out again).  Quit party for nice post at her old company, Magna International.

While I feel it is entirely appropriate to mock politicians for their political achievements (or lack thereof), mocking them for their private life is not really my style.  So while we should all pillory the Hon. Ms. Stronach for her undistinguished Parliamentary record, it is important to note that the private individual has much more intelligence and depth than the image that is usually presented by the muckraking media.  This pre-election profile in Toronto Life manages to paint a remarkable, three-dimensional picture of the woman who is often portrayed as a know-nothing bimbo.

One notable excerpt:

Wealth is the wind in Stronach’s sails, but it doesn’t steer her boat. Though many Canadians wanted to “unite the right,” she was the one who made the cold call in 2003. “Hello, Stephen. It’s Belinda Stronach. Would you agree to a process allowing negotiations between you and Peter MacKay to begin?”

As she says, “I’m a doer.”

On January 20, 2004, the Ottawa press corps converged on the Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Aurora, fuelled more by skepticism than by any sense of gravitas. After helping to graft the rump of the Conservative party, led by MacKay, onto Harper’s Canadian Alliance party, neophyte Stronach was now about to challenge Harper for leadership of this strange beast. Wearing designer clothes and stilettos, embracing her height as easily as her wealth, the pretty heiress teleprompted her way through a speech about sharing “a bigger economic pie.” As reporters looked into the hopeful face, bracketed by perfect blond parentheses, many saw a tall, hothouse poppy in need of trimming: Who does she think she is?

One of Stronach’s friends, journalist Arlene Bynon, was in that audience. “I was half thrilled and half terrified for Belinda,” she says. “I’d always felt there was a sweetness and vulnerability to her that people with money don’t always have. Did she know what she was in for?”

— Sylvia Fraser, “The Belinda Stronach Defense“.  Toronto Life, February 2006.

So thanks, Belinda.  For facilitating, in your own small way, the creation of the modern Conservative Party.   Canada’s political landscape would not look the same without those timely efforts.  Although I am tremendously gratified that the 39th Parliament shall be your last as a sitting member, I wish you all the best in your new job.

SCANDALUM MAGNUM UPDATE: A Member of Parliament may not serve as an officer or director of a public company, you say?  Have a close look at the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Section 7:

7.  Nothing in this Code prevents Members who are not ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries from any of the following, as long as they are able to fulfill their obligations under this Code:

(a)  engaging in employment or in the practice of a profession;
(b)  carrying on a business;
(c)  being a director or officer in a corporation, association, trade union or non-profit organization; and
(d)  being a partner in a partnership.

Seems rather clear to me.

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2 Responses
  1. Flea says:

    With that handshake you can almost hear Paul Martin whispering “Tubalcain” in her ear.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    One of the biggest mysteries in Canadian politics (at least to me) is how Paul Martin ever got the reputation of a corporate lion / hard-headed, clear-thinking businessman.
    Did something happen to the man during that brief time in the wilderness when he got dumped from the Chretien cabinet? Or was he always an indecisive schmoe and just managed to hide it all these years?