Belinda Stronach – Hot New Star in the North
A Lady to Watch and Not Just for her Good Looks
There is a bright new face in Canadian politics and it belongs to the thirty-seven year old Belinda Stronach. Well endowed with wealth, beauty, brains and ambition, she is a lady to be reckoned with.
Stronach's father, Frank Stronach immigrated to Canada from Austria and built a tool-and-die shop in rural Ontario into North America's fifth largest auto-parts company.
Magna International, the company her father built and Belinda later ran as chief executive until she decided to plunge into politics, is now a $15 billion global company with 75,000 employees and 22 offices world-wide.
While more of a consolidator than an innovator as chief executive of Magna, Belinda was well respected and made Fortune Magazine's list of the worlds most powerful businesswomen.
Many were surprised when she quit the world of business and dove into politics. However, her father had once run for Parliament and dreamed of becoming Prime Minister but gave it up after losing his first election attempt.
However, Belinda did not just try her hand at politics with dreams of someday leading Canada. No, she resigned as CEO of Magna, got elected to Parliament from Ontario and quickly jumped into the race for leadership of the Conservative Party. She fought a good fight and ended up in second place after Stephen Harper who is now the Prime Minister.
Despite her loss, she became part of the party leadership. However, just like the Republican Party in the U.S. back in the 1960s when the liberal left wing of the party, lead by the likes of Nelson Rockefeller, clashed with the conservatives from the West led by Senator Barry Goldwater, there appears to be an east-west division within the Canadian Conservative Party and Belinda was clearly aligned with the party's left leaning eastern establishment.
In 2005 as the Conservatives prepared to put an end to the dieing Liberal government with a no confidence vote and call for elections, Belinda abruptly changed sides and walked across the aisle to the Liberals thereby keeping the government alive for a few more months. As a reward, she was given a minor Cabinet post which she soon lost when the Conservatives won in the election that took place a few months later.
Despite the Liberal Party's loss nationally, Belinda won reelection to Parliament and did better, vote wise, as a Liberal than she did as a Conservative candidate. While some are comparing her to Lady Margaret Thatcher with whom she shares the same drive and intelligence, at the moment Belinda is poles apart, ideologically, from the famed Iron Lady. Sir Winston Churchill might be a better comparison as he had a similar falling out with the Conservative Party in England early in his career and switched sides. However, it should be noted that a few years later he switched back and went on to become Prime Minister during World War II.
Politics is not the only area where Belinda is making sparks. Her personal life regularly makes headlines. A loving mother of two children, she has not been very successful in the marriage department. Twice divorced, she has had a string of high profile boyfriends starting with Peter MacKay, the current Foreign Minister in the Harper government. When she left the Conservative Party she also left MacKay, breaking his heart in the process.
She is known to be good friends with Bill Clinton but denies rumors that they were lovers. This hasn't stopped comments about Bill having a wife running for President of the U.S. and girlfriend seeking to be Prime Minister of Canada making him sort of a male Eleanor of Aquitaine, (the 12th Century Duchess of Aquitaine who first married King Louis VII of France and later, following the annulment of that marriage (into which 2 daughters had been born) she crossed the Channel to England and married King Henry II of England becoming the only woman to have been married to the rulers of two countries).
In late 2006 a new scandal broke out following Belinda's having been named as the other woman in court papers filed by Leanne Domi in the divorce proceedings initiated against her husband, Toronto Maple Leaf star Tie Domi. While not denying the relationship, Belinda dismissed the accusation saying that the marriage was on the rocks before she became involved.
Whether one agrees with Belinda politically or not, all agree that, thanks to her, Canadian politics have not been this exciting since the days of Pierre Trudeau and the Trudeaumania craze of the late 1960s. Belinda Stronach is definitely a woman to watch and not just for her good looks.
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