Belinda Stronach is entitled to her fifteen minutes of fame, right? This may be the biggest moment of her life. Stronach has crossed the floor of the House of Commons to sit as a Liberal. Prime Minister Paul Martin has appointed her to Cabinet, as Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
Why did she do it? You may have some ideas of your own! But here is Stronach’s explanation, which I transcribed from the CBC audio of Stronach’s press conference with Prime Minister Paul Martin:
“There are many good and talented folks that I have a great deal of respect for in the Conservative Party, but I find myself at a crossroads forced on me by the decision of the leader of the Conservative Party to try to force the defeat of this government this Thursday. It is now the moment to stand and be counted because the consequences are serious.
“I’ve been uncomfortable for some time with the direction the leader of the Conservative Party has been taking. I tried to the very best of my ability to play a constructive role within the Conservative Party — to advance issues that really matter to Canadians in cities, to women, to young people, to many Ontarians. But I regret to say that I do not believe the party leader is truly sensitive to the needs of each part of the country and just how big and complex Canada really is.
“Also, by forcing an election before the Conservative Party has grown and established itself in Quebec, the hold over Quebec of the Bloc Québecois can only grow into the vacuum. The result will be to stack the deck in favour of separatism and the possibility of a Conservative government beholden to the separatists.
“After agonizing soul searching, I just cannot support such large risk with my country.
“I am as offended as any Canadian by the arrogance of entitlement at the core of the sponsorship scandal. Today, the Prime Minister has given me the chance to serve my constituents and my country by making a difference at a critical time. Among several things, he has asked me to take aggressive action on the lessons that will come from the Gomery inquiry and to put priority on renewing the Canadian democracy.
“Our political structures and institutions need renewal. Canadians are crying for political stability. Only in this way can we direct the focus of government once again to growing a competitive economy that safeguards our quality of life. Only when the people of Canada have renewed confidence and faith in the systems of government can we return to ethics and civility.”