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Former "crossover" Canadian MP to leave politics

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Canadian MP Belinda Stronach has officially announced she will not run for re-election in her riding of Newmarket—Aurora in the next federal election. She will re-join her father Frank Stronach's company Magna International Inc., a large auto parts company, as the executive vice-chairwoman.

"My father is looking to the future, the company is facing important strategic decisions, and the Canadian and global auto sector and economy are in a period of great challenge," Stronach announced. "So I am stepping aside from elected politics for the time being and will now take part in public life in a different way...I will continue to represent the interests of the constituents I serve until such time as a federal election is called," she said. "I also plan to continue to play an active role in the community."

During Stronach's career a series of events have made national headlines.

In 2004, she ran against now Prime Minister Stephen Harper for leadership of then the new formed Conservative Party of Canada and finished second on the first ballot. She was later elected as Conservative MP for Newmarket—Aurora. Stronach had many differences to Stephen Harper and his Conservatives supporting abortion and same-sex marriages. She also claimed the party was going too far-right. In 2005, two days before a non-confidence vote to bring down the Liberal government, she crossed the floor to the Liberal Party of Canada and retained her seat. Upon her crossing she immediately became Minister of Human Resources and Social Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal. It also ended her personal relationship with fellow Conservative MP Peter MacKay. If Stronach had not joined the Liberals an election would have been called. On April 6, 2006, Stronach held a news conference announcing that she would not seek the leadership of the Liberals, which was later won by Stephane Dion.

In September, she was caught cheating with former NHL player Tie Domi. In October 2006, Peter MacKay referred to Stranach as a "dog". Stronach, a feminist, demanded an immediate apology and said that it offended all Canadian women.

CTV bureau chief Robert Fife speculated the decision by Stronach, not to seek re-election, may have had something to do with her dissatisfaction over a diminished role in the new Dion caucus. "She did not have a high-profile critic's role and she had not been prominent in asking questions in question period after Mr. Dion took over," suggested Fife.

Stronach has been serving as Critic for Competitiveness and New Economy. She previously served as Critic for the Minister of Transport under interim leader Bill Graham.

The public is also questioning Stronach's move to keep her seat until the next federal election, they happen every five years or less. If she had decided to leave her seat completely, an immediate by-election would be called.

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