In the Blog
belinda stronach: yay? nay? hey?
I have been hemming and hawing over a Belinda Stronach blog for a while now. On the one hand, as a Canadian, feministy website, I think we should have at least one post about her. On the other hand, I don’t really have anything to say. It’s another case of: it’s just so awful, what is there to say? (Sorry, sorry, I know it’s bad form to link to yourself…)
To update our non-Canadian readers, (or anyone who doesn’t follow the thrilling and spectacular world of Canadian politics) Belinda Stronach, a.k.a. Liberal MP a.k.a. daughter and C.E.O. of Magna Corp a.k.a. pretty, has been one of the most prominent and controversial characters in politics, in part because she’s done some stunning things in her career: in 2005 she left the Conservative party for the Liberal party. But as far as wild career moves go, that seems to be essentially it. What’s more widely reported is that she’s dated a whole bunch of people, which is weird, considering that the press usually doesn’t report about the private lives of politicians. I can list all of her beaus for the past two years, but I can’t tell you a single thing about what she stands for: she’s boyfriended Peter MacKay, then deputy leader of the Conservative party, Tie Domi, who is a married ex-hockey player who also appears to be a bit of a goon, and apparently Bill Clinton (I’m confused about that one).
Over the past month, in a country famous for being overly polite and just a little afraid of conflict (the war we are fighting in Afghanistan notwithstanding…), three prominent figures have made extremely offensive and lewd comments about her, even to my inured potty mouth ears. Belinda’s love life and the mean things people say about it have gotten more press attention than that time the government fell in 2005 (That’s not an exaggeration!).
1) On Oct 19, Peter MacKay, her ex-bf and our minister of Foreign Affairs, was joking about pollution (a funny subject) in the House of Commons with a Liberal MP. When asked if he was worried about the effects of pollution on his dog, he allegedly pointed to Belinda’s empty chair (she was away that day) and said, “you already have her.” MacKay insists he never said this, despite the fact that several other MPs went on the record as having overheard it. He’s refused to apologise and the Speaker of the House has said that since none of the House recorders picked it up, it can’t be proved definitively that he did say it, and nothing can be done about it.
2) Oct 30: Norman Spector, one time chief of staff and Canadian ambassador, said ON THE RADIO: “You know, I’m not in politics, I can say it, I think [Belinda Stronach]’s a b**** and I think that 90 per cent of men would probably say she’s a b****, for the way she’s broken up [former Maple Leaf] Tie Domi’s home and the way she dumped Peter MacKay. She is a b****.” (I bleeped out b**** not because I’m worried my mum will read this post, but because that word is rife everywhere else, I vote to make this a b****-free space. Unless it’s in reference to Bitch, the magazine.) After, Spector refused to apologise for this remark.
3) And as a grand finale, on Nov 7, Alberta premier Ralph Klein (yup, the leader of one of the most powerful provinces) said in reference to Belinda’s defection to the Liberal party: “‘I wasn’t surprised she crossed over. I don’t think she ever had a Conservative bone in her body – well, except for one,’” said Klein. In case anyone in the audience missed the punch line, he continued: ‘Speaking of Peter MacKay…’” (thanks to my friends at ctv.ca for this quote. And of course, afterwards he refused to apologise.
See, I told you, it’s so horrible, what is there to say about it?
I’m not a Stronach supporter, but I was totally distressed by the comments made about her. It sends a clear message to any young woman bold enough to go into politics in Canada that, if you want to get anywhere, you better date like a nun, keep your mouth shut, and act with more decorum than any man in the house does.
But in the end, what made me want to post about Belinda, was that I heard multiple women complain that, when Belinda responded that MacKay’s comment was “offensive to all women,” she was making the issue about women, when it was only about Belinda. I feel vehemently that that is untrue. As one of the most prominent women in Canada (even if her power is constantly attacked and denigrated), when she’s slurred in public by powerful men in our community, it IS about us.