Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Belinda's right about double standard -- but that's not the only problem

I don't condone what Belinda Stronach did, nor am I going to ... if in fact, she is the "other woman" that wrecked the marriage of former hockey enforcer Tie Domi and his wife. Yet it does say a lot about the fact we have a long way to go before women are truly equal members of our society. It also explains why she decided not to run for the Liberal leadership as many people thought she would ... she knew the press was going to dig this up and make it, not the party's renewal, the key issue of the campaign. Any male candidate having an affair with another woman would not only be ignored, but even applauded.

Consider the fact that Pierre Trudeau was the consummate and unrepentant womanizer -- among his interests were musicians Liona Boyd and Barbra Streisand and actress Kim Catrall. No one said a word about that. But when Margaret Sinclair spent a weekend with the Rolling Stones, the Exempt Media went ballistic. And she was just the First Lady, not a sitting politician. When she later admitted she had depression, she like all other women was made to look like it was her fault -- yet when a man admits he's bipolar, he's seen as a hero.

Bill Clinton was excorciated, and rightly so, for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Yet the right wing was even harder on Hillary Clinton, not just for standing by Slick Willy but also forgiving him -- quite hypocritical for the so-called "religious" right, if you ask me. Now, they're on DEFCON One anticipating she's going to run for the White House, saying she's worse than Satan.

Let's get back however, for a minute, to Ms Stronach.

She was part of the behind the scenes lobbying to unite the Reform / Canadian Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservatives (which, as we all know, was really the Reformers gobbling up the latter). She ran for the leadership and finished in a rathe strong third place. Her promise not to collect a single penny in salary if she were elected Prime Minister was quite a bold move, even for a multimillionaire like her. Most politicans would laugh at the idea of taking even a five percent pay cut -- they always want to double their pay then claim it's still not enough.

She gives up her job at Magna -- the auto parts giant -- to run as a Member of Parliament in her hometown, and wins. Only then she "discovers" that Stephen Harper is way more conservative than his media spin team has bullied Canadians into believing he is, and in a pinch decides to defect to the Liberals at the last possible minute. Paul Martin's accepting her and inducting her into the cabinet was a complete act of desperation but I think it had more to do with the fact she thought she'd be better off being away from the party she helped found. Despite the fact this is a cynical move by anyone -- male or female -- she manages to win re-election even as the party goes down to defeat, in one of the most fickle districts in the country (Aurora-Newmarket).

Not to mention, by the way, that at the time she was dating Peter MacKay, and she didn't even bother to tell him she was thinking about switching parties even though she had beenin secret meetings with David Peterson for nearly two weeks negotiating the defection. While the US media focused on her defection, the Candian media instead focused on MacKay being the wronged man -- playing the infamous CBC interview with him over and over again. (Imagine if it had been the other way around -- MacKay leaving and Stronach staying. Would the media have asked her what she thought? Of course not.)

Pretty remarkable stuff, and it all happened in the course of just two years. The problem here however, is not the adultery, or her inconsistency.

It's the fact it's not the kind of news the Liberal Party needs right now. I don't care if a politician is an adulterer, or a drug addict or an alcoholic, just as long as they do their job and they don't drag the rest of the country into their problems. I don't think most Canadians care either.

The fact remains, however, the party still has a small but not insignificant pro-life and pro-family wing who do care; a wing that wants nothing to do with the Conservatives but still wants the rest of the country to abide by a series of basic "values." If the party is to be truly credible, it not only has to elect a strong leader but also come up with a strong platform that says the days of entitlements and the kind of greed that led to Sponsorgate is over; and that all elected politicians wearing Liberal Red are going to promote those kinds of values which Canadians generally agree upon. These include respect for family and for oneself. A bird can't fly unless both wings are flapping in coordination. The only way she's ever going to get the Prime Ministership she wants so badly in the long term, is if she makes peace with the likes of Tom Wappel. That to win, she not only has to appeal to the inner cities but also the Bible Belts in Western Canada and Southwestern Ontario.

In short, she has to be seen as not only a woman promoting family values, but someone who also values families. I don't doubt her credentials as a single mother in either regard; she's proven it more than enough. That's not going to be enough for some, however.

Stronach is welcome to stay in the Liberal Party as long as she's committed to building it and sticking with it for the long haul. She also needs to realize that many if not most members of the media will always resent her simply for the fact she's a woman; and like all other women her behaviour is going to be scrutinized in more detail. When even no less than Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney still laments the fact a woman has to work twice as hard to get half the credit, it shows us just how far we have to go.

Vote for this article at Progressive Bloggers.

29/09/2006 2:20:40 PM

Well said! I feel the Stronach-Domi story is Canada's equivalent of Hollywood's royalty?!? I haven't been back for a while!It's feeling a little blue around here!LOL! Keep up the good work!

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