Rex, ask your editors

rex.jpgIn a recent column concerning the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race, Rex Murphy mused perplexedly over the paucity of confabulatory prose by this nation’s columnists and news writers on the topic of the race.

Rex, the leadership race is not dead. Your editors have merely found another story and they’re running with it. I’m talking, of course, about the American Democratic Party Leadership Race. Why is our nation’s news media so focused on a topic that they usually abhor? Indeed, our national news peddlers tend to give American news less attention than its worth. Yet, why does our opposition’s leadership race get so much less coverage than the American’s opposition leadership race receives? The American Democrats and the Canadian Conservatives are trying to do the same thing, in effect: change the government. However, Peter Mansbridge has spoken more about John Kerry than Belinda Stronach, and we’ve heard more about Lieberman’s Joementum (or lack thereof) than we have heard about Tony Clement.

Our leadership race is news. Rex, you should ask your editors why they’re choosing to ignore the story. Without media coverage, our leadership contenders can only be heard as far as they can shout. Mr. Murphy has declared that Belinda Stronach, Tony Clement and Stephen Harper have all climbed inside a “Trojan horse”, ready to attack the Liberal party’s stranglehold on power. It’s not that the three intend to stay within the horse, rather, it’s that nobody has told the city of Troy that the horse is waiting outside its gates.

Val Meredith joins up

meredith.jpgAdd another MP to the growing list of public endorsements of Belinda Stronach. Today Val Meredith, a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada, threw her support behind Belinda. She explained,

“I have known and worked with Stephen Harper for over 15 years, and he is a key reason why we are here today. I am friends with Tony Clement and appreciate his track record as an Ontario cabinet minister. However, Belinda not only offers proven leadership skills from her term as President and CEO of one of the largest corporations in Canada, she has demonstrated that she can capture the imagination of Canadians.”

Belinda Stronach reassured Meredith that MPs will be able to vote based upon the wishes of their constituents and not necessarily that of the leader. Belinda supports free votes for MPs: a fundamental principle of the former Canadian Alliance party.

Bill Casey endorses Belinda Stronach

casey.jpgToday, Bill Casey made it official. He is the first Tory MP to publicly endorse Belinda Stronach. Casey says that Stronach’s plan for economic growth and job creation were particularly influencing factors in his decision to support her.

Congrats Belinda.

Oh and why does Stronach’s name always have to be tagged with “millionaire former CEO”? Do we keep hearing about how rich Paul Martin is?

Belinda speech in Ottawa

I travelled to Ottawa from Kingston today to attend the Belinda Stronach speech at Chateau Laurier, one block east of parliament hill. I met conservatives of every type at the function; supporters of Stephen Harper, supporters of Tony Clement and of course mostly Belinda Stronach supporters.

I also met two guys with whom I went to Queen’s. Both are hill staffers and were out to see what all of this “Belindamania” talk is about.

Belinda Stronach’s speech was a great improvement from her launch speech that I saw just one week ago. She started out with an anecdote about her son’s advice before her launch that day. “Don’t trip” and she expressed proudly that she didn’t trip acknowledging that while she didn’t fall flat in her political debut, it wasn’t without its obstacles. Indeed, she acknowledged to the crowd of supporters tonight that “I’m not a professional prolecision…” to which the crowd cheered. Somewhat humbled she corrected herself, “I’m not a professional politician” to which the crowd cheered again. Belinda Stronach also declared her position on senate reform. Stronach believes that senators should be elected and that as prime minister she will discuss, with the premiers and the provinces/territories, what would consist of a fair balanced upper house. She reiterated her stance against the federal gun registry, which has cost this country over $1 Billion. This likely pleased Tory MP Bill Casey who started the website gunregistry.ca. The website is a critical look at the wasteful federal programme. As always, Stronach also restated her stance on creating a more competitive Canada through economic reform.

After Belinda Stronach’s speech she worked the room and was surrounded by a hoard of cameras and well-wishers. The mass of people seemed to have a life of it’s own as Stronach led it through the ballroom shaking hands with as many supporters as possible. I instead wandered around the less congested perimeter of the room and met some other students. We discussed our common enthusiasm about the Stronach campaign. Belinda then exited the room with her senior team.

After a speech comes a press conference so I spotted the open room where the cameras were setting up. I set myself up behind the bank of cameras, just behind the reporters and I stood with the boom-mic operators who were recording the reporters’ questions. Interesting, I found myself in the media scrum behind the stage. I actually could have asked a question myself!

CTV’s Roger Smith asked Belinda whether or not she was buying up all of the organizers in Quebec to which she answered that all of the campaigns have paid and unpaid volunteers and that the salary figure that Smith quoted was grossly exaggerated. Later on, Smith asked Stronach a somewhat cynical question “Have you ever heard any of Paul Martin’s speeches?” When Stronach ignored the question, Smith yelled back “Obviously not!” Bizarre… I thought that reporters were supposed to report the news instead of chide the candidates. Later on CTV Newsnet, I read the headline “Stronach takes hits over Quebec campaign”. It seems that while Belinda answered Smith’s question adequately, what is newsworthy to CTV is that Smith asked her the question and thought that he did some damage.

After the press conference, after most of the supporters and press had cleared out, I hung around and met some more of the campaign staff, most of whom are either slightly younger or slightly younger than me. The youth team on Belinda Stronach’s campaign is likely a key factor helping her take a fresh approach to the leadership race. I was chatting with Belinda’s press secretary when she asked, “Do you want to meet her?”.

So, I got to meet Belinda Stronach and we chatted for a little while and I got my photo-op. I thanked her for what she’s doing for youth involvement in federal politics. I also told her that we’re going to rally Queen’s around her campaign.

She also told me something very exciting and encouraging about Kingston and the Islands. But that will have to wait for another day…

Belinda Stronach
Click to enlarge

Leadership web campaign heats up? (Image)

shesabillionairedamnit.jpg

Well, I found the Google advertisement attacking Belinda Stronach on her wealth. The above advertisement “Even the playing field” links to Stephen Harper’s oneconservativevoice.ca and the bottom advertisement is the standard Belinda Stronach google ad. It should be noted that both of these ads were displayed when “Belinda Stronach” was googled.

Leadership web campaign heats up?

Today I noticed a couple interesting things as I was meandering around the Internet. As I was googling on Google, I noticed some rather savvy/sneaky techniques used by Belinda Stronach, Stephen Harper and Tony Clement. It seems that if one searches for Tony Clement on Google, a Belinda Stronach ad is displayed as a Google advertisement off to the side. Similarly, if one searches Stephen Harper the very same thing happens; plainly and emphatically “Belinda Stronach campaign. Join. Recruit. Vote.” I found this little strategy to be a little amusing and to her campaign team’s credit, very clever. Out of the three, Belinda Stronach has the most polished website, with its very own blog and sophisticated recruitment program. Stephen Harper has a website which is decent in comparison while Tony Clement’s website is so very very basic. More interestingly is the backlash by the campaign team of Stephen Harper in response to the Google campaign of Belinda Stronach. When one googles Stephen Harper there’s the Belinda Stronach ad but under it is a much more interesting ad. It’s an ad that seems to point to the fake internet address “Shesabillionairedamnit.ca” with the tagline which says something like “She’s a billionaire damnit. Click. her. ads. waste. her. money”. When you click on the advertisement it redirects you to the campaign website of Stephen Harper.

Interesting indeed.

I wish that I had gotten a screen shot because when I reloaded the Google search in disbelief, the Shesabillionairedamnit ad had disappeared. Maybe my clickthrough on the google ad had capped-off the ad’s daily spending limit? Anyways, is this a sign that Stephen Harper’s team is feeling a little heat from Belinda Stronach? I wish that I had gotten a screen shot because when I reloaded the Google search in disbelief, the Shesabillionairedamnit ad had disappeared. Maybe my clickthrough on the google ad had capped-off the ad’s daily spending limit? So, a google war between Stephen Harper and Belinda Stronach. We’ll just see how much of an effect these internet campaigns will have on the leadership race.

Oh, and Tony: Really! Please do something about your website!

Belinda Stronach!

Today I watched Belinda Stronach jump into the leadership frenzy while I was on campus. Her announcement speech was very good and she handled the following press conference very well.

I must admit, I am very excited about Belinda Stronach’s bid. As a political rookie she brings a fresh approach, face, and sense of trust to the contest for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Many observers had been concerned that as new face, Stronach would be shy on policy and people wouldn’t know where she stands on many political issues. In her announcement, and in her subsequent news conference, she came on strong. There are two fundamental issues for which she will fight: to make Canada into a competitive economic force worldwide (as it should be yet we have much ground to recover) and to get youth involved in the political process (that’s me).

Stronach explained that she believes that policy doesn’t go from the leader-down, it comes from the grassroots-up. Belinda is a believer in grassroots politics! The 37 year-old mother of two is also progressive yet strictly conservative on issues such as keeping marijuana criminalized and handing down tougher sentences on criminals who commit their crimes with guns. So, she’s pro-duck hunter and anti-gun violence… what a concept!

While I consider myself an avid follower of political news and a supporter of the political party, many Canadians do not consider themselves as such. Belinda Stronach brings the much needed flair and electricity to our new party and she’ll cause a lot of people to pay attention. A fellow student, who happened to be watching the announcement on television beside me exclaimed numerous times about how impressed she was with this woman and what she has accomplished. Resigning a lucrative job to serve one’s country is indeed an impressive act.

I believe that she’s got a great shot at the leadership race; her campaign has exploded out of the gates with her jazzy online presence @ belinda.ca. Her website features a section where you can become a Belinda recruiter and keep track of your successes in recruiting for her campaign. Also of note, another example her campaign’s superior web savviness is her placement of google searchword advertisements; type “Belinda” into Google and her ad shows right up!

Combine incredible business success, progressive conservatism, and great media presence and you’ve got Belinda Stronach. She is an ideal candidate to represent many Ontario conservatives.

This will be one to watch…

Tony’s in

Former Ontario health minister Tony Clement announced yesterday that he will seek the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada and will soon mount a campaign to compete for the post against Stephen Harper.

As the former health minister of the nation’s most populous province and as former Ontario Progressive Conservative party president, Tony Clement will bring his knowledge and experience to the leadership race. His experience and leadership, during one of the most trying health crises in Canadian history, further attests to his qualities as a leadership contender. Particularly encouraging is that regardless of the outcome of the Conservative leadership race, he has explained that he will run for the party in the next federal election.

So, great news! Tony Clement’s announcement today is particularly encouraging due to his high profile in Ontario and thus he brings another degree of national marketability of the Conservative Party. He is no stranger to the alliance caucus either as he was a founding member of that former party. Yet, he may be a stranger to voters outside of Ontario, thus he has a considerable campaign to mount in the next couple of months.

Developing…