Belinda and Peter are "taking a break"

You know how if you’re dating someone you work with, things go doubly bad when you have a disagreement?

Peter MacKay should have kept that in mind: Stronach, MacKay are ‘taking a break’ as news of defection rocks Parliament.

He’s apparently holed up in his office, not taking any calls, while his ex is out in public with her new political boyfriend, the Prime Minister. She called him just before walking out to the press conference. His boss, Stephen Harper, says that he’s “devastated.”

But maybe Peter should have seen it coming. He was quoted in this article, as saying that he had heard that the Grits had been sending out feelers to dissatisfied Tories:

I’m expecting Ben Mulroney to be giving us all the dish on E-Talk tonight.

Whatever you do, Peter, don’t go out with the girl from the Xeroz place.

Wow. Politics and a soap opera all in one.

Wow. Just - wow.

“Huh - Guess her and Peter broke up” was my response this morning to a friend who emailed me the news.

Are the voters of Ms Stronach’s constituency likely to wreak vengeance on her at the next election for her decision to swap political parties mid-stream? Is her seat a relatively safe one or a marginal?

That sort of depends. She won her riding by less than a thousand votes, but the region had been strongly Liberal for the past 15 years. Some of this may have due to the right-wing split of the 90s. Prior to that, it had been a swing region, although it’s not entirely possible to determine because of boundary changes.

According to an afternoon report on CBC radio, Stronach met with Martin at 24 Sussex last night. The announcement this morning was the outcome, and according to the reporter there had been no leaks to the media. They thought the press conference might be indicating a deal had been cut between Martin and Layton for a cabinet position. Sounds like she made her mind up in a hurry and went.

And, gee, maybe Ben can get a quote from dead old dad on his take on the situation.

That was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time. (Nice legs, too. :D)

What I think is so funny is that so many Conservatives are criticising her for her timing, saying if she wanted to cross the aisle she should have done it long ago.

I guess these are the same people who are throwing stones at the Libs for working with the NDP, and don’t blink at the unlikely buddy relationship that the Conservatives are developing with the freaking BQ.

Particularly since Dad was one of Belinda’s political mentors, and they worked together at putting the Alliance-PC merger through. :stuck_out_tongue:

I saw one news item that said that she had initially refused to take calls from The Jaw, but eventually did talk to him. He’s rumoured to have said he “supported her as a friend.”

What the Queen must be thinking of it all I don’t know: “Well, Your Majesty, we decided to put on our own little real-life Coronation Street episode just for your visit.”

How’s that for an embarrassing typo? Of course that should have been dear old dad.

Bah. Politicians. {spits}

We all know Belinda didn’t do it for the money, so what exactly was her price? A seat in Cabinet and future considerations?

Heard a few sound bites from Peter on CBC today. He sounded pretty unhappy. Maybe now he knows how lots of old Progressive Conservatives felt when he sold the party to the Alliance after promising not to. :smack:

Nah, Ben doesn’t hear from Dead Old Dad until after the poisoned beer is poured into his ear as he snoozes in front of Hockey Night In Canada.

I checked the script.

Who was that guy in our last Canadian political thread who explained everything so I could understand it? I need an assessment from him on what the hell’s going on in Ottawa.

[coughs modestly]Are you referring to my post here?

Well, what’s happening now all turns on the flexible notion of confidence, which is the crucial principle in our parliamentary system: the government is made up of the party that has the confidence of the House of Commons, i.e. - can command a majority in the Commons. When one party has a majority of the Commons seats, that party obviously has the confidence of the House. But when no party has a majority, it gets much more volatile, especially since there is no authoritative definition of what measures are confidence measures.

Last week, when we last left Our Hero, Mr. Harper, we were speculating on whether he would roll the dice and try to bring down the government on a non-confidence motion, along with his separatist buddy, M. Duceppe. Mr. Harper evidently decided that the stars had aligned, that he had the votes in the Commons, and a good chance to win the subsequent election, and then cruise to 24 Sussex. And so the drama begins.

Mr. Harper Challenges the Government
Not being able to bring a formal non-confidence motion at this particular time (for reasons of arcane parliamentary practice which esape me and are not particularly germane to the issue), Mr. Harper and M. Duceppe instead managed to get a motion passed, directing the Finance Committee of the House to re-draft an old report to include the statement that the Committee did not have confidence in the government. That motion passed the House, and Our Hero triumphantly announced that the House had voted non-confidence and the PM had to advise the Governor General to dissolve the House.

The Prime Minister Blandly Ignores the Challenge
However, Our Other Hero, the Prime Minister, had different ideas. He likes being PM and living in 24 Sussex, so he decided to delay matters. For one thing, the independent MP from BC, Chuck Cadman, hadn’t been able to make the vote because he’s been undergoing cancer treatment in BC. So Our Other Hero announced that the vote about the committee was not a true confidence measure, since it wasn’t a formal vote of non-confidence, nor was it a defeat on the budget, which are the two clear-cut matters of confidence. Since the Grits didn’t think it was a confidence matter, they weren’t giving up the keys to 24 Sussex. However, the PM admitted that the lost vote did raise a legitimate doubt about whether his government still has the confidence of the House, so he announced that the Government would treat the upcoming vote on the budget bill as a confidence matter.

His rationale (besides just the desire to buy time) was that a budget matter is definitely confidence-worthy, and on something as important as a confidence vote, there should be enough lead time to ensure that every MP has notice and gets to the House to vote - there are no proxy ballots in the House.

Personally, that struck me as a reasonable position. The PM wasn’t ignoring the lost vote, and was scheduling a confidence vote within a week’s time, and announced that his government would stand or fall on that vote.

Mr. Harper is Outraged
However, it didn’t seem that way to Mr. Harper. He felt cheated, and he and his party and separatists friends started voting to adjourn the House early each day last week, trying to demonstrate that they controlled the House, not the Grits and NDP. They also accused Our Other Hero of wanting to delay the vote until one of the Conservative MPs, Mr. Stinson, went in for his scheduled cancer surgery. They hinted that the Grits were actually hoping that Mr. Stinson would die on the operating table. Things got real nasty in the House at that point.

Fortunately, Mr. Broadbent of the NDP, who is sort of a senior statesman, intervened and volunteered to “pair” with Mr. Stinson - that is, if Mr. Stinson couldn’t make it because of his needed cancer surgery, Mr. Broadbent would also sit out the vote. That would mean that their absences would cancel out, without affecting the outcome of the vote. That offer was accepted by the Conservatives, and things looked to be settling down a bit.

Things Look Grim for the Grits
So, doing the math, the Grits looked like they were going to lose the vote. Even with the NDP, they were still short.

All eyes then turned to the three independents:

  • Carolyn Parrish, who was elected as a Liberal but was kicked out of the Liberal caucus by the Prime Minister for stomping on a President Bush action figure on national television;

  • David Kilgour, who used to be a Conservative MP years ago, but then was a Liberal MP, and recently kicked himself out of the Liberal caucus;

  • Chuck Cadman, who was a Reform MP, than an Alliance MP, but didn’t get the Conservative nomination last year and ran and won as an independent, beating the Conservative candidate. Not surprisingly, he’s got a bit of a grudge against his old mates in the Conservative Party, who didn’t lift a finger to help him last year.

[Side note: I’m not making any of this up. :rolleyes: ]

The Grits would need to pick up all three independents to win the vote.

Ms. Parrish quickly said that she would vote with her old Liberal buddies. I’ve not read her reasons why, but I’m assuming that she sees Mr. Harper as Bush North, and would as soon vote for Stephen as for Dubya.

Mr. Kilgour and Mr. Cadman haven’t said who they’ll vote for. As of the begining of the week, people were assuming that Mr. Kilgour, who really seems to dislike the current Liberal government, would vote against them, and that would be enough to bring down the government.

And then came Belinda
Then we had yesterday’s stirring developments. Belinda Stronach, one of the leading Red Tories in the Conservative party, and former leadership candidate, came waltzing into the Press Club with the Prime Minister, who announced to the media hounds that she had crossed the floor and they were looking at the new Minister of Human Resources. The media hounds were gobsmacked. Poor Peter was gobsmacked. Some academics have announced that they are gobsmacked. (Honestly, I’ve not seen the word “gobsmacked” used so much since the last Convention of the Association for the Preservation of the Word “Gobsmacked.”)

As a pleased Prime Minister stated at the press conference: “it doesn’t change the outcome of the vote, but I can count.” In other words, Stronach crossing over doesn’t guarantee that the government will win the confidence vote, but suddenly they just need two of the three independent votes, not all three.

Mr. Harper is Squeezed by the Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador
Our Hero Mr. Harper was already having a bad day, and it got worse, if that’s possible. Remember Premier Danny Williams, the Conservative Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador, who mugged Our Other Hero, the PM, a few months back for a big whack of money from the offshore oil? Well, that deal, called the “Atlantic Accord” is part of the budget, which after all, is all about allocating federal funds.

Danny Boy realised that if the budget is defeated, the offshore money won’t be flowing to St. John’s. So he announced that in his view, any N&L MP who voted against the budget was voting against Newfoundland & Labrador, and was pretty much a traitor. The same folks in N&L who attacked the Prime Minister a few months ago for not giving the money to N&L were now gearing up to attack the two Conservative MPs from N&L. Even the St. John’s Chamber of Commerce, normally a reliable Conservative base, was saying that the two Conservative MPs had better vote for the budget. And of course if they did so, or even abstained, the budget would pass and the Grits would stay in power.

What to do, what to do? An MP’s Dilemma
So the Conservatives had an emergency caucus last night, to cast aspersions on Ms. Stronach and decide what to do about the threat from Danny Boy. (And, no doubt, look uneasily at each other and wonder if anyone else was about to jump ship.) They came out and announced that they’re going to split their vote.

There are actually two budget bills being voted on tomorrow: the original main budget bill, which includes the Atlantic Accord, and the ancillary bill that includes all the goodies that Jack Layton and the NDP demanded as a price for their support. The Tories are now going to vote for the main budget bill, in favour of the Atlantic Accord, but against the NDP goodies bill. They hope that this piece of legerdemain will show that they really want to give Danny Boy his offshore money, but they also really, really want to defeat the government.

Mr. Cadman weighs his Options
But that was just a distraction, really. The real issue now is how Mr. Cadman will vote. And in the media accounts, it looks like Mr. Cadman may be leaning to voting for the government. Ms. Stronach has said repeatedly that one of her reasons for leaving was that she was concerned that the Conservative-Bloc alliance was playing into the hands of the separatists. The Prime Minister squeezed in a chat today with Mr. Cadman, and apparently repeated that refrain, which is reported to be exerting a tug on Mr. Cadman.

The Speaker and a Tie Vote
In all of the above, I’m been saying that if two of the independents vote with the Grits, the bill passes. Actually, that would leave the House evenly divided, on a tie vote. However, in that case the Speaker of the House would vote. Normally, the Speaker does not vote, but he does when there’s a tie. And by long-standing tradition, he votes to maintain the status quo, which in this case means he would vote to keep the government in office.

So in summary:

  • there will be a budget vote tomorrow;

  • the budget vote is a matter of confidence - if the Government is defeated, we’re into an election;

  • there will actually be two votes on two bills: the Grits, NDP, and Ms. Parrish will vote “yea” on both; the Tories will vote “yea” on the main one, and “nay” on the other (rather like the two-headed eagle of Grand Fenwick); and the Bloc will vote “non” on both;

  • if there’s a tie on either, Mr. Speaker will cast his vote for the budget and the government;

  • the way the numbers stack up, the fate of the Government is in the hands of a pony-tailed, ex-hippie, independent MP from B.C.

Yup, that was you, Northern Piper. I’m getting all my political news from you from now on. It actually makes sense the way you tell it.

I Googled her image and she ain’t a bad looking twist, but I saw no gam shots. Where did you see that? I’m definitely a gam lover.

Best I could find is her in tight leather pants

The soap opera that is our national capital continues.

– Last night, one of the Liberal MPs was in the House when he suddenly clutched at his chest and was rushed to hospital with an apparent heart attack. He’s since been discharged, saying it was just indigestion: Liberal MP Falls Ill. (Hey, if I’d had to sit through the Commons over the past few weeks, I’d have heartburn too!)

– Also last night, one of the Conservative MPs from B.C., Mr. Grewal, held a press conference and announced that the Liberals had offered him a diplomatic post in exchange for his abstention on the budget vote. Minsiter Dosanjh fired back that Mr. Grewal had started the exchange and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer when the Grits turned him down. Now, the PM has flatly denied that any offer was made: PM: No offer made to Tory MP.

– Independent Carolyn Parrish initially thought she had appendicitis, but one of the Liberal MP/MD guys has diagnosed it as either an ovarian cyst or a kidney stone: Parrish latest scare for Liberals. Undeterred, Ms. Parrish plans to be in the House tonight, voting for the budget: “Come hell or high water, there’s no frigging way I’m going to let one ovary bring the government down,” she said.
And who said Canadian politics is boring?

Treachery! Betrayal! Corruption! Seduction, deceit, heartbreak, backstabbing!

This is all so absolutely scandalous, darling! :smiley: