Stronach has decided that what is important in the Domi divorce is not the break-up of a marriage nor its three children, but that yet again she is the victim of a political culture that is biased against women in general and her in particular. From today’s Globe and Mail:
During a television interview yesterday, she refused to discuss the seriousness of her relationship with Mr. Domi, but said female politicians appear more likely to face scrutiny of their private lives.
“I'd really like to say that, in a country like Canada, there isn't, but I do believe there is a double standard,” she told CTV's Mike Duffy Live. “When I decided to enter public life, I didn't realize how public it would be.”
She suggested that this attitude, coupled with the confrontational nature of the House of Commons, could affect women willing to run for office.
“It's unfortunate for other women in this country that want to seek political office and to make a contribution,” she said.
As implied above, it wouldn’t be the first time Stronach demonstrated a narcissism to rival Bill Clinton’s (no wonder they’re simpatico).
She cut and run from the Conservative party, because she had irreconcilable political differences with Stephen Harper – not because she wasn’t getting enough attention or being promoted enough. Yet she has seen Harper close up in her role in brokering the merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties in 2003, and from the leadership race in 2004.
She couldn’t run for Liberal leader, because the party wasn’t going to allow a pure one-member, one-vote process – not because she was politically radioactive and new election laws prevented her from financing a lavish campaign out of her own pocket like she did in 2004. Yet in the Conservative leadership race she argued in favour of the riding-weighted one member, one vote process, likely because it would have given her an edge in Québec.
Now she is alleged to have been the trigger that ended a 13-year marriage that has produced three children. (As they have been neither admitted nor proven, I am not going to assume that the allegations are true.)
Here’s one option she could have taken: through a spokesperson, express concern for the family and decline further comment. Here’s what she did: gave a TV interview in which she refused to confirm or deny the alleged affair, instead focussing on her own suffering and attempting to hitch it to the larger issue of the travails of public life.
Of course, Stronach would or should have known that the interview was destined to spawn another round of stories about the divorce allegations. Yes, it is fair to say that Mrs. Domi must shoulder most of the blame for drawing attention to the situation, with the explosive and detailed allegations set out in her divorce papers. But Stronach, had she paused to reflect, should know better. She’s been a public figure for years, has two children, and has been through two divorces herself. Leanne Domi and her three kids haven’t.
It may also be that Stronach’s concern for women in public life is yet another injection-moulded spin from the Magna assembly line. Despite her lamentations on CTV, and current position as head of the Liberal women’s caucus, Stronach’s sister act may be more talk than walk, if Leanne Domi’s divorce papers are to be believed:
Leanne says Stronach "insinuated herself" into the Domis' life in the summer of 2005 when she attended the Formula One races in Montreal and dropped into a cocktail party. The Magna heiress coolly said, "hello" and then ignored Leanne and other wives -- who offered her champagne -- and "doted on the men (she sat directly beside Tie) as though they might disappear at any minute, the document says.
--Ottawa Sun, September 26
But, in Stronach’s defence, why would she pay attention to the “wives of?” In the eyes of someone who has never grasped the concept of a team, wives are just another amorphous group of lower life forms – like a caucus. When you are a star, ignoring lower-status women is not necessarily sexism, just good time management.
As I noted recently, Stronach is the only person in the world who fails to grasp that, were she not a wealthy, attractive, woman, she would have no public life which to lament. And, her hypothesis that men would not be subjected to similar attention in similar circumstances is unconvincing, as the case of the late Ontario cabinet minister Al Palladini suggests.
In 1995, Palladini was the target of a claim for child support from a former girlfriend. At the time of the suit and during their relationship, Palladini was married. The details, allegations, and headlines were ugly and painful to everyone involved. (I was working for him at the time.)
He did not enjoy the experience, and I’m pretty sure there were some reporters he wanted to deck, but he never once publicly whined about his situation, nor blamed the furor on his Italian heritage (hello, Joe Volpe) or on some other fatuous reason – even after the Toronto Star’s Tracey Tyler followed him to his former girlfriend’s house and photographed him through a window, which photo appeared on page A1. Why? Because Al Palladini was a man. You’d think that by now, Stronach would know how one acts.
There is one winner in all of this: National Post columnist Don Martin, who has a book on Stronach coming out, and must have despaired when she took a pass on the leadership. Looks like he will have a happy Christmas after all.