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May 17, 2005
Belinda Sells Out

Paul Martin has bought the support of Conservative MP Belinda Stronach with a ministerial position, changing the balance of power in Parliament and possibly saving the Liberal Party's grip on power. Martin induced Stronach to cross the aisle this morning by making her the Minister of Human Resources:

Martin said he and Stronach share common beliefs on questions of policy and politics, including the Gomery commission investigating the sponsorship scandal.

"Based on these shared beliefs, she and I have agreed that she fits more comfortably, can serve more appropriately and can contribute more substantially as a member of the government caucus," he said.

"Accordingly, I am very pleased to announce that Ms. Stronach will cross the floor and has agreed to join the cabinet as Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development."

The move could give the Liberals a better chance of passing a crucial confidence motion on the federal budget scheduled for Thursday.

Ironically, Stronach is a newcomer to politics who first launched her career by attempting to wrest control of the Conservative Party from Stephen Harper after leaving her CEO position at Magna International. After that strange move failed last year, she settled into her position as a backbencher from Ontario, one of the few Tory MPs from that province. She had spoken publicly about her reservations on using the budget for a no-confidence vote, but had sided with the Tories on the previous votes they attempted to use to bring down Martin and the Liberals. The only item that has appeared to change in the hours since the last such vote is her new Cabinet position in charge of human resources and skills development.

Given her short and strange political history, it's easy to paint Stronach as an opportunist of the most crass order, but that sells Martin somewhat short. Obviously the cash registers are open at the Liberal Party and they have positions and power to sell in order to keep their grip on the government. While Stephen Harper and the Tories continue to work through the system, Martin has proven yet again that he's willing to twist the system itself to remain Prime Minister and keep the Liberals from getting evicted from the seats of power.

Harper could still win the vote on Thursday, but it's looking a lot more doubtful now. His best opportunity would be to peel off a Grit from the West whose support of Martin's fire sale would ensure the loss of the riding. If he has a candidate for this effort, he'd better lock it in before Thursday's vote.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! For those of you not familiar with Canadian politics, you may want to read this update to understand just how badly Belinda betrayed her Tory associates -- one in particular.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 17, 2005 10:11 AM

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Captain Ed has a post about Stronach's defection. I think the comments on that post say more than enough. ... [Read More]

Tracked on May 17, 2005 11:34 AM

PS: is it just me, or doesn't Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) look a bit like PM Paul Martin, albeit remotely? Just wondering... [Read More]

Tracked on May 17, 2005 2:53 PM

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