Last night, while watching Mike Duffy's Countdown
on CTV Newsnet, I saw Belinda Stronach
on a panel with Diane Ablonczy
. Belinda, a former Conservative leadership candidate, crossed the floor
last spring to sit as a Liberal cabinet minister, tippping the balance of power when every vote counted and opposition parties almost brought the government down.
For those who hoped bringing the government down before same-sex marriage came to a vote would protect traditional marriage in Canada, her defection was a huge blow.
Belinda says she made a principled move, and clearly she did not fit in the Conservative Party after she failed to persuade members to make the party a mirror image of the Liberal Party. While most Conservative members voted against same-sex marriage, she voted for it. She never seemed comfortable as a team player, and often tried to upstage Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper
. So maybe she was being true to herself.
What interested me watching Belinda last night, though, was how cold and hard she seemed next to Diane, who has a warm smile and twinkling eyes. Boy oh boy did Belinda go negative on Harper. She used every opportunity to paint him in a nasty light. She seemed angry and bitter, as if she
was the one hard done by, and not the one who betrayed not only Harper, but her then lover Conservative Deputy Leader Peter McKay
, and the party she is credited with helping found.
Of course, as a journalist, I could not in good conscience write about Belinda's motivations as if I had omniscient insight into her heart, though, alas journalists attribute motivations all the time. Columnists and pundits make a living at it. But they often get it wrong and their observations and allegations can be hurtful. If I were to meet her, or do a news story on her, I would make every effort to be fair.
But if I were to write a story on a Belinda-based character, I could see the motivations of the heart, because I could create them. My character might have a straight back--Belinda's posture excellent, something I envy. She might have a moon-shaped face, limp blonde hair and long legs. But she is Mylinda, not Belinda. Mylinda would have tremendous confidence like that of some of the American idol contestants who think they are far more talented than they are.
I would research Mylinda's internal motivations by rereading J. Budziszewski's Revenge of the Conscience
. I would imagine Mylinda has to demonize the people she betrayed in order to bolster her narcissistic self-image and the lies she needs to tell herself to avoid the painful truth her conscience is revealing to her. Her conscience would be gnawing at Mylinda like the Harpies of old, and as Budziszewski says, it's the power of the conscience that provokes the need for more lies and more wrong to run away from the truth it exposes.
I do not know the real Belinda Stronach. We've never met. Like everyone else, I was shocked--and I confess fascinated--by her behavior last spring. Maybe she did make a principled stand in the sense of being true to herself. But if that's the case, why is she not more magnanimous to those she left behind? I don't know.
But if I created Mylinda, I would get inside her and imagine how she sees herself, how she deceives herself and what she wants above all else. What she wants would have a conscious and an unconscious dimension. Mylinda may think she wants to make a difference in the world, but the character of my invention really craves the limelight and unconsciously wants to fail at love so she can nurse her sense of moral superiority. Her booby prize.
If some day Mylinda finds her place in a novel, I would probably will ditch the blonde hair or any other outward identifying characteristics. Mylinda would only be a working name. Maybe I'll make her a composite character with a bit of Scott Brison thrown in the mix. Perhaps her name would become Todd.
As a journalist, I make every effort to stay bound to the facts. When at times, the facts seem to get in the way of a good story, I can't overlook them.
So I save the "good stories" for fiction, where I can control the facts.