Belinda Stronach has left the Conservative Party to sit as a cabinet minister in the Liberal cabinet for 3 days.
Yes, I believe that the government will still fall on Thursday, Kilgour and Cadman will vote with the Opposition. As an independent, Cadman is in a position to deal as Kilgour has, however, we haven’t heard anything of a deal. He would have been elected a Conservative and he’ll vote to bring down this government, especially after this eye-poke from Belinda Stronach.
So why did Belinda Stronach do it? It was no secret that her leadership ambitions in the Conservative party never could add up. She took about 30% of the vote on leadership in 2004. As Stephen Harper said, Belinda Stronach must have realized that she’d never become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and perhaps she’ll have an easier time among those who discounted her ambition from the start. I believe that her slim margin of victory in Newmarket-Aurora is telling; she’s now the Liberal candidate in that riding, and she’ll face a relative CPC unknown. I think that the Conservative honeymoon in her riding was over and this ensured her political survival.
Will this hurt the Conservatives? In the short term it will: a Conservative has crossed the floor. In the short to long term, people will view this as more ambition. People have always discounted Belinda Stronach. They’ll continue to discount her, however, now she’s lost credibility. There are also plenty of other ‘centre-right’ MPs in the Conservative Party and they are about to become more visible.
Will this hurt the Liberals? Actually, it will. Paul Martin is already seen as a Prime Minister who can’t make decisions and who will grasp at anything to stay in power. Today’s defection is more evidence to support this. Furthermore, Stronach has always been a headache for the Conservative Party, now she’s Paul Martin’s headache.
Belinda also represents soft support in her political personality. Stronach does not have the type of personality that can lead her supporters to the ends of the Earth, rather, she was a figurehead for what the Conservative Party still possesses: the ‘PC’ part of the Conservative Party. As long as this party is faithful to the broad spectrum within the Conservative Party, Belinda will find that nobody is eager to follow her into the political abyss of the Liberal Party.
Today, there are a number of people who must feel personally betrayed by Stronach’s decision. Personally, I’m glad that I am able, and glad that this party is able, to finally wash our hands of Belinda and move forward with this party under the leadership of Stephen Harper.