The Liberal leadership race lost its most glamorous contender Thursday when Belinda Stronach bowed out after months of informal organizing.
The auto parts heiress and onetime Tory leadership candidate blamed a flawed leadership selection process for her decision, saying she wants a more open and democratic system.
But sources close to Stronach said the bottom line was that the Newmarket-Aurora MP knew she couldn’t win. Her inability to speak fluent French along with shallow roots in the party were huge detractions.
It has been less than a year since she joined the Liberals last May after a blockbuster defection from the Conservatives.
Party officials warned last week that they’ll strictly enforce limits on donations and spending by all contenders. That could have nixed Stronach’s one big advantage: her ability to amass a formidable war chest.
That prospect, said one official, had “everything to do” with Stronach’s decision to sit out.
For weeks, other camps have been buzzing with rumours that Stronach was exploiting loopholes in the rules to get around the ban on corporate donations and to hire organizers at as much as $80,000 a pop. (source)