Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Politics This Week

Belinda Stronach Defects to the Liberals

A surprise but not a surprise, if you know what I mean. One time Conservative leadership hopeful, Belinda Stronach crossed the line today to join with Paul Martin and the Liberal Party to become the new Minister of Human Resources. Conservative hatchets are out in full force and the pundits are painting Ms. Stronach as a backstabbing quisling looking after her own ambition - and I agree.
For her own part, Stronach states that she quit the party to make a stand for her principles. Her long standing disagreements with the Alliance style policies of Stephen Harper are well known: she's a fiscal conservative not a social conservative. Despite some derisive remarks about the budget, she did support elements of the budget having to do with municipal funding. Stronach also stated that she had problems allying herself with the separatist Bloc Quebecois in order to defeat the Liberals and that Harper is not sensitive enough to the different needs of Canadians across the country.
While I definitely buy that Stronach is looking out for her own ambition - this is the millionaire political rookie who wanted to be PM - I also believe that she left the party for the reasons she stated. Her politics are much more in line with her family friend and former PM Brian Mulroney's than they ever were with the Alliance Party's. Harper's old party dominates the new Conservative Party and have made it clear that they want the party to follow Alliance policy rather than old Progressive Conservative policy.
However, Stronach cannot escape the charges of following her own ambition. The Liberals made it pretty easy for her to jump ship. Given her negative remarks last week about Paul Martin and the Liberals, how could she expect anyone to think otherwise? Had she left the Conservatives to sit as an independent or stayed in the party and voted against the party line at the risk of being back benched, she could have seemed to have kept her integrity in check.
Whether this development will ultimately work in the Liberals favour remains to be seen. The Conservatives seem to to be backing down from a non-confidence vote on Thursday. Pundits, reflecting on recent polls, have said that the vote on Thursday could actually work in Martin's favour and give him a solid mandate to govern. Staving off the vote and bringing Stronach into the Liberal fold could work against Martin. It will be interesting to see/read the fallout from Stronach's riding.

Blood-Sucking Vampires Still Control My Province.

Gordon 'have another martini' Campbell - the man who once confessed to BCTV on camera that he "wasn't always honest as Mayor of Vancouver" and stated "I promise I will be better when I am Premier" and then promptly and flagrantly broke almost all his election promises once elected Premier - has been re-elected to a second term. Not a surprise really and it could have been worse. We actually have a strong opposition once again as the NDP made a comeback that exceeded many pundits' expectations. The Liberals still have power but it is far from unfettered this time around.
No matter how the Liberal party spins this, no matter how much they try to see the silver lining that fact remains that they have a greatly reduced majority and will now have to actually fight to pass legislation. An opposition means that things like the raid on the legislature and the real reasons for political sharks Christy Clark and Gary Farrell-Collins (who are both connected to the scandal) stepping down won't be allowed to be obfuscated by a sympathetic media. Gordon Campbell would have faced more of a trial for his indiscretions in Maui had there been an opposition. BC has something akin to a democracy once again.
Sadly, British Columbians won't be seeing election reform anytime soon. STV needed 60% support in order to pass, but only received 57% support. Still, that is a relatively narrow margin of defeat and it may be worth pursuing another referendum on the subject when the next provincial election rolls around.
People I know in this province, both on the left and the right side of the political spectrum, have talked about the need for electoral reform in this province. But STV was never really explained well and there seemed to be very little campaining done in full support of a new system. Maybe STV sounded too close to STD for some people?
Still confused about STV? Try this link, I found it helpful. Hopefully we can get another crack at electoral reform in 4 years.

http://citizensassembly.bc.ca/resources/flash/bc-stv-full.swf

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