Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No apparent conflict for Stronach, but Liberals likely have one less vote

(And there’s not much Dion can do about it)

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.

3 comments:

Totally Tory said...

The lost vote hardly matters in that the Liberals would sooner be boiled in oil than defeat the government on a confidence vote right now. (The Bloc sent them a lovely gift when they supported the budget, giving the Liberals political cover to oppose it without risking an election.)

I think Belinda will simply disappear beneath the political waves, just as she has been already for the last few months. No one will miss her, and no one will ask about her. Her sole contribution to public life in Canada will have been to fully expose Paul Martin's judgement and character for what it truly was.

Jason Bo Green said...

The sad thing is, MHF might have held that seat all this time.

Anonymous said...

What's so sad about that? You would think this woman was the second coming of Christ the way Liberals have been fawning over her, and near as I can tell she hasn't had a career any more remarkable than most other backbenchers sitting in the current Parliament. Liberals have built Martha Hall Findlay up so much now that no matter what she does, she is bound to disappoint once she finally lands in Parliament.