Belinda Stronach and Design Subversion

I am a sucker for good design. And there’s no doubting that Belinda Stronach’s website is well-designed: it’s simple, bold, and set apart from the dull competition.

And so I think “hey, maybe I should look at that Belinda Stronach — she’s got a well-designed website after all!”

And so I do. I surf around the website, like what I see, process-wise, and get a good feeling from all the “My vision is clear. But I believe in an open, inclusive, consultative approach to getting there.” rhetoric.

Maybe, ancestors turning over in graves aside, I will consider even voting for her.

Recall at this point that I still have no idea what she believes in or espouses.

Now, later in the day, I cringe at my naivety, as the site starts to fill up with content like this, and some of Stronach’s views are exposed.

Note that these are just points, and use policy codewords that I may or may not fully understand. But it’s pretty clear that Stronach and I don’t share a neighbourhood on the political spectrum.

Which makes me realize how easy it is to be seduced by the power of good design.

Still, it’s an awful swell site…

Interesting sidenote: do a Google search for Stephen Harper and you’ll likely see a Belina Stronach text ad.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 21, 2004 - 00:53 Permalink

…and she’s got a much, much better website than she is a public speaker. If that makes any sense.

Nils Ling's picture
Nils Ling on January 21, 2004 - 01:00 Permalink

I’d be interested to know which of the points in her policy outline chafes at you, Peter. Other than keeping marijuana possession a criminal offence (which is, I admit, a tad silly nowadays), I had trouble finding things I disagreed with — at least, disagreed with more than I disagree with the Liberals.

The military thing? I’m a military brat, and grew up in that culture, so it’s not a bogeyman for me the way it is for some folks — I’ve been embarrassed by seeing our military reduced to the role of “auxiliary sandbag crew”.

Letting patients know the true cost of health care services? I wonder how many people would rush to the doctor every time little Jimmy or Janey got the sniffles if they knew what that really cost …

There are some standard platitudes, but by and large, her ideas seem to make sense to me. I’m admittedly not much of a political animal … but I look at Paul Martin and see Brian Mulroney. I look at Stephen Harper and see … well, nothing. So — on any level you want to snicker at, and on the policy level as well — Belinda Stronach doesn’t look too bad to me.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 21, 2004 - 03:25 Permalink

It’s not so much an issue-by-issue problem, more of a problem of emphasis. I don’t believe the solution to the country’s problems lies in “competitiveness.”

dave m's picture
dave m on January 21, 2004 - 04:12 Permalink

I wouldn’t mind weighing in… the fact that tax cuts, military, continued criminalization of marijuana, and “tough on crime” messages come before the mention of health care… and when health care is mentioned she’s gonna encourage listening, and that we’re gonna be sent a bill to let us know how much it’s costing the people who need it most??!!! It demonstrates a set of priorities that doesn’t coincide with mine… That said, these are traditional Conservative values and it’s reassuring to see them associated with that party… whereas the Liberals seem bent on usurping their platform. Leaving us those of us with more centre/left leaners with little choice locally.

Nils Ling's picture
Nils Ling on January 21, 2004 - 05:12 Permalink

I see what you’re saying, Dave — but I’m not too concerned with where things are placed in a speech. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that sometimes the first shall be last when it comes to what politicians say and what they then do. George Bush may lead with “let’s build the economy” … but I’m not fooled when he later throws in “oh, and let’s finish the job in Iraq”. We know what comes first in his mind.

If all she does is encourage listening and show people their bills, you’re right, that’s not much of a health care plan. But I can’t imagine that’s all it will be. I’m willing to wait and see. Right now, all I get from anyone else is “let’s throw more money at the problem” — when the problem seems to have built up an immunity to that particular medicine.

Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on January 21, 2004 - 13:15 Permalink

I’m going to take this as an oppo to weigh in on “Health Care Policy” in Canada. It’s way, way, way past the time that we take a serious look at HC; the delivery of HC, the policy of HC, the model of HC, and the cost of HC in Canada. Both levels of government play football with the funding envelope. The structural players in buracracy, administration and the HC unions (most particularly, nurses and doctors) pull the publics’ emotional strings to support their current wish list. The delivery model is based on 19th century concepts and is hierarchical to a fault.
In other words the system is a black hole for money that inefficiently delivers a publically funded service in an unbalanced manner to only some Canadians. It barely manages a passing grade and is all too often driven and judged by tangental and ideological policies like absolutely no contamination by anything other than a wide open public purse and any position that can satisfy the statement ” In the US they don’t have ……….. so……………..”
Its high time for a radical solution that marginalizes the ideology and simplifies the agenda.
There I said it.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on January 21, 2004 - 13:36 Permalink

What I believe is that it needs to be considered not only what is said, and when it is said, but more importantly, whether or not you believe the speaker will actually act on what they say. I could never vote for someone whom I had not been made aware of their principles, and had not become convinced of their willingness to act on them. If she convinces me she is ready to act against those who think it is right to support dope in the hands of our kids, she would get my vote.

Nils Ling's picture
Nils Ling on January 21, 2004 - 14:10 Permalink

Being married to a front-line health care worker, I’ve been made all too aware that “listening to the concerns of front-line health care workers” is something that really hasn’t been tried. And if we’re going to break out of the desperately failing model currently being used to deliver and fund health care, that seems like a logical place to start.

Sadly, in the past, consultation has begun and ended with the very same administrative drones whose empires are founded on maintaining the status quo. “Give us more money,” has been their consistent cry. And there has been a consistent, inexorable erosion of service and quality.

Will Belinda Stronach actually put in place a valid consultative process — or will this be yet another empty political promise? I’m actually heartened by the fact she has very little political experience. As Wayne says, you want people who have strong principles and a willingness to act on them. So far, the over-riding principle I’ve seen from other politicians (and this crosses all party lines) has been “Let’s say whatever it takes to get elected and/or stay in power — then do what we want.”

The probem with politics is that it attracts too many politicians.

dave m's picture
dave m on January 21, 2004 - 14:25 Permalink

wayne, dope will always make it into the hands of kids. good kids, bad kids it doesn’t matter. that’s what kids do. but let’s take that revenue, revenue that we could put to education, health care…. and sure even tax breaks… out of the hands of organised crime and into the public coffers. decriminalization isn’t the answer… legalisation is. i promise you there wouldn’t be any more kids smoking dope then there are already… there you go ritchie, a radical solution.

Mark's picture
Mark on January 21, 2004 - 15:01 Permalink

For most Canadians I’m not sure the right wing is any less marginalized as the new conservative party.

Still, I’ll be interested to hear more about her track record from objective third-parties. Before last month what did we really know about her? She’s the heir/successor to a massive auto parts empire has lots of money to spend on her campaign…..and that’s about it. Has she been active in politics before — at any level? Where is her expertise? Is her view as parochial as it seems? It will be hard to convince me her big business bias won’t dominate. What does she know about running a government? If she wins I would wonder about who is backing her and who is in her inner circle. Will these will be the ones running the party?

Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on January 21, 2004 - 17:18 Permalink

Works for me Dave. That one and a couple of other chronic social ills can be better be addressed by counter intuitive solutions I tink.

Ken's picture
Ken on January 21, 2004 - 18:58 Permalink

Where’s Alan?

Her beautiful website was bought with lots of money, just like the US administration, National Post, and what you see on TV. Overly impressive on the surface, with a creepy heart — she’s just affirmed her tycoon status.

Ken's picture
Ken on January 21, 2004 - 19:03 Permalink

The part that makes me laugh is she asks for donations! After you give to her, and the warm glow just isn’t there, try donating to something real.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 21, 2004 - 20:37 Permalink

Who me? My comment was lost in revision.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on January 22, 2004 - 02:03 Permalink

My sense is that I don’t think we need an experienced pol. I am fed up with professional pols. I want conviction pols — - I think that a pol with lots of money is a great idea — they are in the game to do somthing rather than to have a job.

On the other hand I am very liberal. But I think that tis is good for the country as her candidacy expands the choice. The idea of Harper or that weed from Ontario makes me weep

Tom's picture
Tom on February 9, 2004 - 19:59 Permalink

Whatever you think of Belinda Stronach it’s hard to disagree with this interpretation of her treatment by the media.

Lowell's picture
Lowell on February 25, 2004 - 18:47 Permalink

Can I add my two cents worth. The media seem to have written off Belinda for whatever reason. They seem to place the most emphasis on her speaking style and her debating ability which I would say are not the most important prerequisites for the job of leader. To me the most important issues for leadership are vision that Canadians can relate and buy into, new ideas about solving old problems such as healthcare (spending more money on the problem isn’t a solution), inspiring Canadians to build a stronger Canada, building an effective team that can manage the government with integrity, and competence, understand the global economy and trade relationships and maximize benefit to Canada, develop a better reputation for Canada among international community (we use to have one). I think Belinda scores high on most of these areas. Involving front line medical workers in developing innovative solutions for healthcare delivery and not leading Canadains down the garden path in what it is going to cost them is a big one, developing incentives for canadian workers to be more productive and developing ideas about how to make Canada more competitive around the world. These are all issues that Belinda has some good ideas about. I think the media are very narrowly focussed and have way too much influence in determining outcomes of leadership contests.