So Belinda Stronach has left the Conservatives for a cabinet position under Paul Martin, and her former colleagues have been none too kind in dismissing her as a power-hungry person of no principles. This much I could live with, but it’s worse than that: Stronach has been routinely dismissed as just a dumb blonde in the Canadian media since she started out in politics (the Globe actually went as far as to compare her to Paris Hilton!), and now the Conservatives have joined in too. Stephen Harper said that he’d “never really noticed complexity to be Belinda’s strong point” (after she mentioned having complex reasons for switching parties), Ontario Conservative MPP Bob Runciman called her “a dipstick – an attractive one, but still a dipstick”, and evangelical Christian minister and Alberta Conservative MLA Tony Abbott said Stronach, 39, was a “little rich girl” who had “whored herself out for power”. (All three later refused to retract their statements or otherwise apologize.) She was repeatedly asked during her first press conference whether this meant she was breaking up with Conservative deputy leader Peter MacKay (the Toronto Star’s headline was “Stronach leaves boyfriend as well as Tories”). I don’t know very much about Stronach, but no-one deserves this sort of treatment. Can you imagine this sort of language being used for a male politician? Right, neither can I.
Update: CBC Newsworld just featured a political cartoon from an unnamed newspaper showing Stronach, in a bed with Martin, saying “I’ve always liked a Liberal man with a big caucus”. Abbott was interviewed again, and claimed that “whore” was not a sexist term, and that he would have used it had Stronach been male. And the CBC’s reporters looked for the most insulting news clip they could find from the last time a male MP switched sides, but couldn’t find anything worse than a headline reading “Turncoat MP damages party”. Uh-huh.
In other Canadian political news, it appears the Liberals have won yesterday’s provincial election in BC, but the NDP managed to gain a respectable number of seats (they’re currently leading in 33 of 79 ridings, up from just 2 in 2001). The referendum on proportional representation is going to be tight, however; the Yes side is currently at 57% of votes counted, and needs 60% to win. That this came to a referendum is among the most exciting things to happen in Canadian politics for a long time. Stupid voting systems, like the one we currently use, have been a pet peeve of mine for a while, and it’s about time we had some semblance of a rational system here. I really hope it wins.
Oh well, at least we don’t have the electoral college.