The Daily News (Halifax), May 20, 2005
Nasty, nasty, nasty. Stronach's defection brings out worst in some
by Rick Howe
New lows were reached this week with reactions to the
year's biggest story so far: Belinda Stronach's
defection to the Paul Martin Liberals.
Most Canadians have been shaking their heads at the
recent antics of our federal politicians. The heckling,
jeering and name-calling, in and out of Parliament, have
been relentless. It's been downright embarrassing.
But the trash talk coming from the mouths of some
after Stronach's stunning announcement crossed the line,
and bordered on hate speech.
Sexist and misogynist were words deputy minister Anne
McLellan used to describe it.
"She's sort of defined herself as something of a
dipstick," Ontario Tory Bob Runciman told reporters. "An
attractive one, but still a dipstick with what she's
That comment was mild compared with what others said.
Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott suggest Stronach
had "prostituted" herself. Others called her a political
harlot. Alberta Tory MLA Tony Abbott stooped the lowest
by describing Stronach as a "little rich girl who is
basically whoring herself out to the Liberals."
Abbott, an evangelical preacher, later recanted his
comments, saying they were made in the heat of the
moment. But the damage was done. Comments like this
confirmed for many Canadians that extremists are still
alive and thriving within the "new" Conservative party.
I'm sure they were chomping at the bit to let loose a
verbal volley when Scott Brison crossed the floor and
joined the Liberals. Hate-crime laws may have been a
factor in their restraint that time.
Their true colours showed this week as the muzzles
came off for Stronach. the old boys' network couldn't
handle an ambitious woman with more balls that they
have. Their reaction showed us all just how ignorant
As for Stronach's now-apparent ex – please, Peter
MacKay: spare us the crocodile tears.
I nearly gagged the other night watching MacKay's
first public reaction to his girlfriend's defection,
unceremoniously dumping him in the process. MacKay tried
his best to look the part of a jilted lover for the TV
"It tries your soul," he told the media crowd that
was hanging on his every word. "It was a blow. I didn't
see it coming." Concerning his former girlfriend's
decision to become a Liberal, MacKay talked of betrayal
and said, "Never turn your back on your friends and your
family and your colleagues like this. It's not in the
way you conduct yourself in an honourable fashion."
A name came to mind as I heard MacKay use the words "honour"
and "betrayal." But David Orchard wasn't trash-talking
when I contacted him on his farm in Saskatchewan.
"I don't have many words of wisdom to say about
that," he told me on the MacKay-Stronach relationship.
On the future of this country and the role being played
by the new Conservative party, he did offer a few choice
"Harper's playing dangerous games, getting in bed
with the Bloc," Orchard said. "I am worried about this
country. I don't want to see us absorbed by the United
States or broken up over Quebec. I predicted this from
the beginning. This new party is not the broadbased,
national party Canadians were led to believe it is, and
was an Alliance takeover."
Stronach suggested as much in her stunning
announcement this week. She also expressed concerns
about Canada's future and said, "The country comes
All of us should heed these words.
Rick Howe writes a weekly column for the
Halifax Daily News
and is the host of Halifax Radio CJCH's morning phone-in
programme, "Hotline." He can be reached at email@example.com