In answer to any dark mutterings about Belinda Stronach and conflicts of interest, please note the following excerpts from the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons:
7. Nothing in this Code prevents Members who are not ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries from any of the following, as long as they are able to fulfill their obligations under this Code:
(a) engaging in employment or in the practice of a profession;
(b) carrying on a business;
(c) being a director or officer in a corporation, association, trade union or non-profit organization; and
(d) being a partner in a partnership.
12.(1) A Member who has reasonable grounds to believe that he or she or a member of his or her family has a private interest that might be affected by a matter that is before the House of Commons or a committee of which the Member is a member shall, if present during consideration of the matter, disclose orally or in writing the general nature of the private interest at the first opportunity. The general nature of the private interest shall be disclosed forthwith in writing to the Clerk of the House.
13. A Member shall not participate in debate on or vote on a question in which he or she has a private interest.
On the one hand, given that Belinda Stronach is a member of the opposition and, it is fair to say, among the governing party’s least favourite people, it will be difficult to allege that she could exert any undue influence on the government.
On the other hand, minority Parliaments are different, in that opposition parties and members can and do exert greater influence on the content and passage of legislation than in a majority situation. Stronach’s preference will probably be to sit out most votes and debates (if she is even able to find the time to come to Ottawa in the first place), and Dion has neither leverage to compel her attendance nor incentive to force a by-election.
So not only is Stronach’s seat now in jeopardy, the Liberals may also have effectively lost one of their MPs for voting purposes in the Commons.