Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Still no ideas from Belinda, while Brison cribs from Clement

It is one year to the day since the sleek HMS Stronach made her maiden crossing in the House of Commons, finding a comfortable berth alongside the Martin JuggerNot. How were these unsinkables to know that a paunchy iceberg by the name of Stephen Harper lay just a few knots ahead?

Enough bad metaphors. It has also been nearly six weeks since Stronach announced she would not be seeking the Liberal leadership, offering the risible rationales that (a) the riding-weighted selection process was unfair, and (b) she could only speak her mind on policy and party renewal as a backbencher, not a leadership candidate:

Stronach also told CTV that she was interested in, "pushing the envelope for ideas that will bring about greater renewal of the party."

The MP for Newmarket-Aurora told reporters that she could have launched a strong bid for the leadership, but she is more interested in being "free to express my views."

"I think I'm less restricted as a member of Parliament to speak about renewal from the grassroots up," she said., April 6, 2006

Well, perhaps it’s not fair to hold Stronach accountable after only six weeks. But look over here! Another erstwhile Conservative, Scott Brison, has come forward with a new idea! Well, sort of new: no one’s proposed it for at least two years.

Today, openly gay and really openly bilingual Liberal MP Scott Brison unveiled the first whiz-bang idea of the Liberal leadership. Yes, the man whose last leadership campaign (for the PCs in 2003) featured a light bulb as its logo, is hoping to capture the imagination of Liberals and soon-to-be Liberals with an idea last seen in Tony Clement’s bids for the Ontario PC leadership in 2002, and for the Conservative leadership in 2004:

The first $25,000 in annual earnings by young adults would be made tax free under a proposal floated today by Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison.

The tax break would apply to a person's first 12 years of full-time work, thus helping young Canadians pay off student loans and start families, Brison told a Bay Street lunch crowd of 1,000 people at the National Club. (sorry no link, the Star's links never seem to translate into my blog)

When then-Ontario health minister Tony Clement ran on the idea in 2002, it was called JumpStart 250 – 250 referring to the notion that the first $250,000 in income earned by 18-year-olds would be tax-free. He resurrected the idea in his bid to lead the new Conservative party in 2004.

As someone once said, a week is a lifetime in politics. And a year? Consider that a year ago, Stronach and Brison were considered two of the brightest lights in Ottawa and two huge losses for the Conservatives – losses for which Harper was blamed. Brison was offering spirited defences of the sponsorship scandal in Question Period.

Now Stronach is squinting into the fluorescent lighting cast on those whose achievements never matched their hype (though the Star's political blog reports that she has been named head of the Liberal women's caucus). Brison is stealing ideas from Tony Clement, and both are struggling to master French.

But, as we should all remind ourselves, Stronach and Brison have not been the first to undergo reversals of political fortune. They will surely not be the last.


Roy Eappen said...

That's very funny Joan, and sadly true. The fiberals are the party of someone else's ideas.

Adam Daifallah said...

Actually, as I noted in an essay submission proposing this same idea for Belinda's now-defunct As Prime Minister Essay contest back in 2001, it was first proposed by Roger Martin, dean of the U of T business school, in a Globe oped back in 2000. So neither Clement nor Brison can claim credit.