Just as Time doesn’t always pick a saint as their Person of the Year, I gave Ralph Klein the “Calgary Grit Person of the Year Award” in 2004 for his interference in the Federal Election and his rather underwhelming provincial campaign. This year, the Person of the Year goes to none other than Belinda Stronach.
Belinda’s defection is one of those events that will make a great “what if” history essay in twenty or thirty years, the same way political followers love to play the “what if Joe Clark could count” game these days. A June election would have been completely different – we would have had the Grewal fiasco and Jean Brault dominating the headlines at the start and the Chaouli decision dominating the headlines at the finish. Perhaps Gilles Duceppe would have run for PQ leadership in the fall, and at least one of the two major parties would be in a leadership race right now.
Although Chuck Cadman was just as crucial in the cliff hanger vote, nothing will compare to Belinda crossing the floor. It told us a lot about Harper and Martin. It thrust Peter MacKay into the spotlight. It got Canada the “political play of the week on CNN”. It left a lot of people, myself included, absolutely stunned. When I saw the headline on Bourque, it took about five minutes for it to actually register, and about six different media sources before I believed it was true.
So while she hasn’t made a splash as one of the twelve Ministers of Democratic Reform, because of her floor crossing, Belinda Stronach gets my “Person of the Year” award.