Belinda Stronach Quits
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Belinda Stronach to leave politics

Canadian Press - Apr 11th 2007.

OTTAWA — Belinda Stronach’s brief but tumultuous fling with federal politics is coming to an end.

The auto-parts heiress announced today that she won’t seek re-election as an MP and, effective immediately, is rejoining her father’s multibillion-dollar empire, Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG.A), as executive vice-chairwoman.

“I am always assessing the best role I can play in public life, and, after being encouraged by members of the corporate leadership at Magna to return, I have decided that the timing of my return to the business should not be delayed,” Stronach said in a news release.

“My father is looking to the future, the company is facing important strategic decisions, and the Canadian and global auto sector and economy is in a period of great challenge. So I am stepping aside from elected politics for the time being and will now take part in public life in a different way.”

Her father, Frank Stronach, is the founder and chairman of Magna.

Rumours that Stronach, one of the highest-profile female MPs and chair of the Liberals’ women’s caucus, was considering leaving politics have been swirling for months on Parliament Hill.

Her departure is a potential blow for Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who has vowed to bolster the role of women in politics and ensure that at least a third of the Liberal candidates in the next election are female.

Stronach’s brief three years as an MP have been a political roller-coaster ride, marked by failed leadership aspirations in two different parties.

After working behind the scenes to bring about the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties, Stronach ran in 2004 for the leadership of the new Conservative party, undeterred by her political inexperience and her inability to speak French.

She lost to Stephen Harper and, although she subsequently won election as a Tory in the riding of Newmarket-Aurora, she and Harper never got along.

A moderate who favoured abortion rights and same-sex marriage, Stronach was often at odds with the more socially conservative Harper. And she chafed at being sidelined by the leader.

In May 2005, two days before a crucial confidence vote that threatened to topple Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government, Stronach stunned political observers by defecting to the Grits. She was immediately sworn into Martin’s cabinet as human resources minister.

Her move helped give Martin’s shaky government a seven-month reprieve but it also opened Stronach’s personal life to public scrutiny. In dumping the Tory party, she lost her Tory boyfriend at the time, Peter MacKay, now foreign affairs minister.

The lingering acrimony of their split spilled over into the Commons last year when MacKay alluded to Stronach as being a dog.

After Martin’s government was defeated in 2006, Stronach flirted briefly with seeking the Liberal leadership. She pulled together a campaign team but ultimately bowed out of the race, claiming that she could have won but had chosen to devote herself to reforming the leadership selection process instead.

However, insiders acknowledged that Stronach realized she simply couldn’t win, hamstrung by her weak grasp of French, her relative inexperience and her newcomer status to the party.

At last December’s leadership convention, Stronach championed a move to a one-person, one-vote leadership process, but it was shot down by convention delegates.

Her romantic liaisons kept her in the spotlight almost as often as her political moves.

After the very public split with MacKay, she hit the headlines again as the alleged other woman in a nasty divorce case between hockey star Tie Domi and his wife.

Stronach may re-enter politics

Canadian Press Apr 15 - 2007.

Outgoing Liberal MP Belinda Stronach says she still likes public service and is "leaving the door open" to re-entering the political arena "one day."

In an interview with CBC-TV's Sunday Morning, Stronach said a week is a lifetime in politics and as far as she is concerned, she'll "never say never."

Stronach says she likes doing things and likes to "make a difference."

Stronach announced last week she will not seek re-election in her Aurora-Newmarket riding north of Toronto and will return to auto-parts giant Magna International, the family business.

Stronach lost the Conservative leadership to Stephen Harper in 2004 and the next year she defected to the governing Liberals.

But she returned to the opposition benches last year when the Liberals were toppled from power.

In the CBC interview, Stronach was at a loss to explain why she attracted so much media attention during her brief stint in public life.

"I really don't know the answer to that," she said. "I'm often humbled and very grateful to people, especially young women (who come up to me) that say `you've made me pay attention to politics."'

Over the years, Stronach became the brunt of pointed barbs by a number of Tory politicians, including Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, a former boyfriend, and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein.

"Those are not moments I wanted to deal with," Stronach said. ``I think those were uncalled for comments, but you just have to deal with them.

"They say if doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger."


Liberal leader praises Stronach's 'determination' to fight breast cancer

June 24th 2007.

OTTAWA - Liberal MP Belinda Stronach is recovering well in a Toronto hospital after undergoing surgery to treat breast cancer earlier this week.

"Belinda is upbeat and looking forward to continuing on with her recovery," said Greg MacEachern, a spokesman for the Toronto-area MP.

Stronach, 41, had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery on Tuesday. The cancer was detected in April - shortly after she announced she would not be running in the next election - during a routine mammogram test. She underwent a lumpectomy after the diagnosis, followed by this week's mastectomy.

"She is recovering with friends and family,'' said MacEachern.

After her diagnosis, which she only shared with close friends and family, Stronach continued to make public appearances, including a stop at Ottawa's race weekend in late May.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion praised Stronach's strength in light of her new struggles.

"The discretion, determination and dignity with which she has led her fight against breast cancer are an inspiration to all of us, and will undoubtedly serve her and her family well as they continue to overcome this challenge,"Dion said in an e-mail to CanWest News Service.

"We are also encouraged by the news of her excellent prognosis for a full recovery. Indeed, Ms. Stronach has helped to remind us all that regular check-ups and early detection are essential to successfully combatting cancer," he added.

The type of cancer that Stronach was diagnosed with is called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It is one of the most common and treatable forms of breast cancer.

Dr. Eileen Rakovitch, a radiation oncologist at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, told CTV Newsnet that DCIS isn't life-threatening.

"The most important part about treating DCIS is to remove it all," she said. "DCIS is defined by malignant cells that are confined to the duct, so DCIS is, in contrast to invasive breast cancer, localized within the breast and does not spread to lymph nodes."

But Rakovitch said "some women can go on to have a recurrence and some women can get invasive breast cancer so the goal in treatment is to try and get all the disease out."

Breast cancer strikes one in nine Canadian women. But the chances of complete recovery for Stronach are high, as almost 90 per cent of breast cancer victims between the ages of 30 and 49 survive.

Stronach was expected to soon resume her executive role at Magna International, her father's auto-parts company. She said she was leaving politics to spend more time with her children, Frank Jr., 15, and Nikki, 13.

"I am not leaving because I don't have an interest in issues or a passion for public service. I still have an interest. . . . We all have to assess from time to time what our responsibilities are and I'm making this decision right now for my children and my family," Stronach told the Ottawa Citizen in May.

It is not known if she will officially resign from the Liberal party earlier than expected.

Stronach has been involved in Canadian politics for less than four years, but has attracted more attention than many politicians do in a lifetime. Her first political move was a bold one, choosing to run for the leadership of the newly formed Conservative party although she had never held elected office. In April 2005, Stronach shocked many by crossing the floor to join the Liberal party, where she served for eight months as minister of human resources. It was a move that angered many and prompted some nasty name-calling. One Ontario MPP referred to her as "an attractive dipstick."

Some of the issues Stronach has championed while in office include a push for the direct election of party leaders by party members, and The Pink Book, which addressed women's issues.

More recently, Stronach developed an interest in Third World causes, including an African anti-malaria campaign.

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