Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sick of Stronach

Maclean's has a piece debating the potential of Belinda Stronach's leadership bid. The article highlights many of Stronach's shortcomings, but offers:
one Liberal organizer, who says he will support Ignatieff if he takes the plunge, observed ruefully, none of them can catch every eye in an airport baggage-claims room the way he saw Stronach do recently.

I guess this "star power" explains the disproportionate coverage and focus, but the impetus is a serious media turned tabloid. As the article points out, Stronach is a lightweight on policy by anyone's definition. The depth of her comments are embarrassing for someone who has the temerity to think they can lead a nation. Nothing screams the notion of entitlement like a privileged, rich person who wants a title.

I'm sure supporters would argue that Stronach is passionate about Canada's future and her intentions are pure. However, all I see is naked ambition, where personal destiny is the primary motivator. If Stronach were merely a devoted public servant, then her passion would be apparent in her speeches and ideas. Instead, her lack of ability to string together two coherent sentences on most topics betrays her true passion- ambition and power.

Practically, I think most Liberals will see through the veneer and Stronach will fail in her leadership bid. Apparently some Liberals actually get it moving forward:
As potential candidates figure out how to raise money, other Liberals are more worried about raising their party's fortunes. "There is a deep-seated desire to use this hiatus from power as a time to attract new people to the party," says Steve MacKinnon, the party's national director. He said there will be less tolerance this time around of the party's provincial wings using their control over arcane membership regulations to cramp the ability of candidates to sign up new members.

Some Liberals are calling for a sweeping review of the way the party keeps rank-and-file members feeling connected -- enough to make regular donations. The Conservatives do it better. Ottawa MP David McGuinty, brother of the Ontario premier, is calling for "far greater engagement at the grassroots level," starting with a serious look at switching from a convention at which delegates elect the leader, to a one-member, one-ballot system with telephone voting. The view that something must be done to jump-start the faithful who grew disillusioned with the way Martin organizers dominated their party is now conventional wisdom. "We are a deeply factionalized and divided party," Ignatieff told student Liberals at the University of Western Ontario last week. "The test of things will be to find a leader who can bring us together."

Stronach's candidacy speaks to all that is wrong with our political system. At least the other "star" candidates like Ignatieff and Dryden ooze substance of ideas, Stronach offers the "Britney factor". I don't think Stronach is a serious contender, but her media appeal constantly enhances her profile. This media generated profile is the best explanation for why the Liberals decided to make Stronach the environment critic- it surely isn't based on strength of ideas. Now, as new Environment Minister Rona Ambrose marches forward with her plan to dismantle Kyoto, the environment has Stronach as primary defender- good grief. Sorry to be harsh, but Stronach shows little and receives plenty, while other more competent people are overlooked.


Mark Dowling said...

I bet Maggie Thatcher used to catch every eye too - but in a "holy crap I hope she doesn't look my way" kind of way.

Better to be feared than ogled, methinks.

Daveo said...

Stronach has a chance to win because she looks good and she has money. Put those two together and she has every chance in the Liberal universe.

Steve V said...


The article makes an interesting point about Stronach's wealth:

"The rules outlaw corporate contributions and limit individuals to donating $5,200. The candidates may spend only double that, $10,400, out of their own pockets -- a severe limitation on Stronach's ability to tap her personal wealth. Still, her network of well-off friends will make it easier for her to find supporters willing to sign cheques"